Finance Minister: budget planing must be improved

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Latvian Finance Minister Dana Reizniece-Ozola  of the Greens and Farmers Union party intends to alter the principles for allocating finances for new policy initiatives when working on the national budget for 2018.

The minister said in an interview with the LETA news service that work on the 2018 budget would begin in spring 2017.

"Then we will continue revising expenditures by the ministries, and I would also like to change the procedure for the new policy initiatives so that these would no longer be the ministries' requests for additional budget allocations but allocations for meeting the objectives included in the government action plan," the finance minister said but for now would not comment on how she proposed to implement the changes.

She said the expenditure of ministries would be revised during the drafting of the 2018 budget the same way it was done this year when working on the 2017 budget. The process helped to raise additional EUR 60 million in the 2017 budget but it will become more difficult with every following year and policy changes will be needed.

"The ministries will have to think about improving their efficiency or combining certain functions. What matters is that we have started the process and the ministries have understood that this is a good opportunity to review their performance and find ways to improve their efficiency," Reizniece-Ozola said.

The work on the 2018 budget will also be influenced by the new tax policy strategy, and the agreement on its outlines should be achieved already at the beginning of the next year, the finance minister said.

After initially suggesting the 2017 budget had been compiled in exemplary fashion and prepared in good time, the budget debate itself and subsequent revisions have taken the gloss off, with Reizniece-Ozola even having to survive a parliamentary vote of no confidence called over confusion in implementing tax changes.  

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