Budget battles begin in earnest

Ministers began making their cases for funding to Finance Minister Janis Reirs and Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma on Monday as a closed cabinet session began planning the national budget for 2015. 

Speaking on Latvian Radio Monday morning, Reirs said that ministers were asking for an additional €200m of spending but that with only €100m available, compromises would inevitably need to be made.

"We will continue to talk, to listen to each other, and we won't think only of our own sectors... we will look for compromises," Reirs said.

According to a government timetable designed to ensure the new budget is passed before the end of the year, it will be delivered to parliament on December 10 with the hope that it will be passed in a vote on December 20.

Reirs said that while growth was slowing, Latvia's GDP figures continued to be "better than average" for the Eurozone.

Slowing growth meant that spending plans had to be pared back too, Reirs argued, while assuring that planned wage increases for civil servants in education, health and emergency services would go ahead as planned.

He also defended controversial plans to increase the tax on small-scale "micro-businesses" from 9% to 11% of turnover, claiming the 9% rate had always been intended as a temporary measure.

 

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