There is a lack of good specialists in public administration. There is a high turnover, and the skilled ones pursue higher wages in the private sector, according to the State Chancery. Therefore, the government and Saeima adopted a remuneration reform last year. It entered into force three months ago and gave the authorities the right to raise wages. The categories of positions are ranked on a scale. For example, for the lowest positions, wages may be between €543 and €799 this year, while the highest level corresponding to the heads of the institutions may be between €3898 and €6403.
Ministries have been tasked with achieving at least the minimum threshold at each level of office within five years. The money must be found by the ministries themselves, for example, by eliminating vacancies or by dismissing people.
Information collected by Latvian Television from ministries shows that in some cases the money for raising officials' salaries has been allocated. For example, the Ministry of Defense responded that wages have grown on average by 25% since the reform. In the Ministry of Education and Science, wages have grown by almost 15%.
In other ministries, the situation is much more modest. Either the total money for remuneration increased by a few percent or not at all.
There is a relatively good situation in the Ministry of Finance, where salaries are already reaching the minimum salary threshold for all employees at all levels, while only a third of the employees have salaries of the minimum threshold in the Ministry of Culture. In the meantime, in the Ministry of Welfare, the salaries are smaller than the minimum level corresponding to the position for half of the employees.
Altogether, ministries have requested over €200 million for both their and institutional salary increases in next year's state budget, according to the Ministry of Finance. This is twice more than the budget allows. The new government and the Saeima will decide whether to allocate money. On the other hand, there is a whole different situation with political posts, for which reform will also raise wages in order to maintain the hierarchy.
For example, since the minister is in a higher position than any official, the reform stipulates that the minister's salary should be higher than the maximum threshold theoretically allowed to be paid to an official, even though in practice no official receives such a salary.
The expected increase in remuneration of politicians and other officials can be consulted by comparing the calculation of the State Chancery for the basic monthly salary in 2022 and 2023, added to this story.
Unlike officials' salaries, for politicians, money has already been included in next year's national budget base. The increase will also be particularly rapid due to the fact that the calculation is linked to the average salary rise in the country.
As a result, next year, the President, the Prime Minister, and the Speaker of the Saeima will receive nearly eight thousand euros a month before tax. The rises in wages will be the following in 2023 (in euros):
- President of State from 6260 to 7962 (+27%)
- Speaker of the Saeima from 4565 to 7962 (+75%)
- Prime Minister from 5216 to 7962 (+53%)
- Saeima deputy 2963 to 3981 (+34%)
- Minister 4952 to 7052 (+42%)
- Parliamentary Secretary 3841 to 6256 (+63%)
The Saeima's public relations department told LTV that in next year's budget the amount for members' salaries increased from EUR 4,406,436 to EUR 6,482,055 or by EUR 2 million, while the increase in the salary of ministers and the Prime Minister's parliamentary secretary would cost the State Chancellery less than half a million euro. In addition to the increase in remuneration for the other parliamentary secretaries and the President of State, it appears that raising the salaries of political posts will cost approximately EUR three million in the budget for next year.
The spending has been included in the national budget plan already examined by the government.
Ministers elected to the 14th Saeima were asked whether it is fair to include money in the budget for salaries of politicians but not officials. Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš said: “Qualified people are leaving to work in the private sector, there is a crisis, and we wonder why the Ministry is not coping. We need to raise these wages, in line with external circumstances. Wages rise across the country [..] also in the public sector for educators, medics, and so on. We need to continue this path.”
The final decision on raising salaries for politicians will be in the hands of the new Saeima, which will be able to amend the budget approved by the government. The increase is being braked by the late Union of Greens and Farmers (ZZS), which is likely to be in opposition. Spokesman for ZZS, Viktors Valainis, said: “Such increases are absolutely not in line with the existing realities and we will intervene for significant cuts to these increases.”