Latvian central banker predicts increased GDP growth, calls for balanced budget

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Latvia's central bank governor held his end of year press conference December 15, using the occasion to predict faster than previously expected growth and to call for balanced budgets in the future.

Ilmars Rimšēvičs said the bank now expects GDP growth in 2017 to be 4.7% (increased from 4.2%) and in 2018 to be 4.1% (increased from 3.8%).

Meanwhile, the central bank is sticking with its previous prediction of 2.9% inflation this year.

In his other comments, Rimšēvičs reiterated calls for "structural reforms" to continue and said it was important to improve training, particularly among unskilled workers, in order to make Latvia's workforce more competitive and employable.

He also repeated earlier calls for a budget that was "at least balanced" if not actually in surplus.

There was also an attractive new graphic of a tree to replace the well-worn graphic of a stool that has become familiar over the last year. 

At the end of the conference he made a point of telling journalists the central bank was not financed from the central government budget, suggesting that there is some sensitivity about recent stories saying his own pay packet was experiencing increases well ahead of the inflation rate, even while calling for wage growth to be kept in check in order to prevent economic overheating.

The central bank offered a range of important services and provided good value for money, the governor insisted.

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