In the autumn, several deputies told Latvian Television that there would be a discussion on the matter in the state budget negotiations of 2023. However, the slow government formation process has led to the beginning of the year with the so-called technical budget, and consequently, there was no discussion and wage increases have already taken place on January 1, as changes to the legislation had already been adopted at the end of 2021.
Now the President of Latvia, the Prime Minister, and the Chairman of the Saeima receive €7,962 a month before tax. Ministers receive €7,052, parliamentary secretaries €6,256, while MPs €3,981, excluding various allowances. For all positions, it is a rise of several dozen percent. The most rapid increase is for the for the Speaker of the Saeima, whose salary has risen by 74% compared to the one received in October.
“It doesn't seem fair. I certainly think we should come back to this issue, at least in times of crisis, very certainly,” said Edgars Tavars, head of the coalition member's United List faction, in October.
Now, he told LTV that the salaries of politicians are linked to the salaries of other officials after the reform of remuneration, so the wage freeze would also affect those in need of it.
The debate on salaries in the Saeima was also not welcomed by opposition deputies. During the pre-election period, the opposition Greens and Farmers Union (ZZS) announced a draft bill signed by deputies that would stop changes to politicians' salaries. However, after the election, such draft laws have not been proposed by ZZS.
The head of the Saeima Mandate, Ethics and Submissions Committee, Jānis Vucāns (ZZS), told De Facto that the matter "had been discussed".
A week before the increase came into effect, the Committee examined the “manabalss.lv” initiative on the wage freeze, which had been signed by more than 10,000 people. The author of the initiative said that there are several reasons for outrage, such as the reform directly targeting senior officials, rather than officials for which the reform of remuneration was initiated at all, and the increase was too rapid.
“Given that the rest of the nation is thinking how to survive this winter in terms of inflation, which is twice higher than in the eurozone, it seems unacceptable,” said Nora Freimane, author of the initiative.
Although the increase in wages is provided for by the law, which is under the competence of the Saeima, the commission decided to divert the initiative to the government on a proposal from Vucāns. The reply was requested until April 15, so at this time, the politicians have increased salaries.
“Historically, there are other decisions that the government is able to make very quickly. So it's a question, probably more about wanting. And the other – it makes me think about how effective, flexible public administration processes are at all, if this is dealt with for four and a half months, and there is no secret – the commission also examined the option of looking at it for half a year and a year, which I thought was completely detached from reality,” Freimane continued.
Vucāns, on the other hand, replied that a longer assessment was needed because the change in wages could have an impact on the whole reform of remuneration. Although he believes that the increase in salaries is too rapid for top officials, it cannot be changed in isolation from the overall remuneration system.
Officials' salary estimates are also affected by inflation rates, but with a two-year lag. Consequently, last year's sharp rise in inflation will affect wages in 2024. As a result, politicians' salaries are expected to rise by more than 10% next year.