Latvian Interior Minister demands more funding to tackle critical situation

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Interior Minister Sandis Ģirģens (KPV LV party) on August 6 said the area of home affairs was in critical condition after years of underfunding and floated an idea to try to claw back some of a shortfall estimated at 88 million euros by seizing criminal assets. 

Speaking in an interview on LTV's "Rita Panorama" morning news show, Ģirģens said: "In Latvia, the home affairs department has been in a state of starvation for several years and has not been adequately funded," reported LSM's Latvian language service. 

"We're living with infrastructure that is already life- and health-threatening," the minister warned, adding that bringing infrastructure up to standard was a process that could take up to 25 years.

In 2019 the home affairs budget would be € 400 million, without European Union funding. In the next two years, however, the budget is expected to fall to € 354 million by 2021.

The Minister said that the interior services were unable to cope, citing lack of equipment, low salaries, aged vehicles, and lack of training and claiming that not even "basic functions" were covered, with departments also at the mercy of fluctuations in fuel prices.

In his opinion, the annual budget of the Ministry of the Interior should be between 500 and 600 million euros. Currently, an additional € 88 million has been requested. Meanwhile, he said that confiscating half of the proceeds of criminal activities could help shore up financing, despite objections to such an idea from the Finance Ministry.

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