Budget approved after gruelling session of parliament

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Latvia's 2017 budget was approved in the early hours of November 24 following an 20-hour debate that considered 666 separate spending proposals.

In the final reading, projecting budget revenues are €8 billion and expenditures €8.4 billion next year.

The budget for next year was passed in the final reading by 59 votes to 36 opposition voted.

Saeima meeting and debates on the budget and related bills continued for about 20 hours. The meeting started at 9 a.m. on November 23.

As compared to the 2016 budget, revenues are expected to grow by €664 million and expenditures by €680 million next year.

Saeima supported lawmakers’ proposals on support to different infrastructure, sports and culture projects worth €20 million, at which point the debate became occasionally bizarre with deputies reading poems and lauding state aid of "the rhythmical music genre".

Prime Minister Maris Kucinskis said that the budget was "based on the abilities of the coalition partners and their strength to achieve compromises, the wish to make the first steps towards radical reforms in many areas. We are going where we have never been. Let’s make that first step together!” said Kucinskis in an attempt to rouse his colleagues to an enthusiasm that gradually ebbed as the hours ticked by and his colleagues reverted to type by scoring points off each other.

In an attempt to solve Latvia's demographic crisis, families having a fourth child will see its monthly benefit payment rise from €34.14 to €50.07.

The minimum monthly wage will rise by a mere €10 from €370 to €380 in 2017. It was raised from €360 to €370 last year.

The adoption of budget included the introduction of support measures for startups and scrapping the microenterprise tax, a move which several hundred people protested Wednesday. 


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