2024 budget to get first reading Thursday

On Thursday, November 16, the Saeima will consider next year's state budget draft in the first reading in an extraordinary session.

The draft law on the state budget for 2024 and the budget framework for 2024, 2025 and 2026 and the accompanying 19 draft laws are all on the agenda of the Saeima session.

Next year, the revenues of the consolidated state budget are planned to be 14.5 billion euros, and the expenses 16.2 billion euros.

In next year's budget, planned revenues are epected to be 1.76 billion euros more than this year, while expenses are 1.54 billion more than in the 2023 state budget law. The budget deficit of the general government next year is planned to be 1.3 billion euros or 2.8 percent of the gross domestic product. 

Internal and external security, education and health are defined as the main priorities. 

Funding for national defense next year is expected to reach 2.4 percent of the gross domestic product – well above the NATO recommended minimum of 2 percent – and by gradual increases, it is planned to reach 3 percent of GDP in 2027. 

In the field of security, additional funding worth 91.9 million euros is intended for increasing salaries in the fields of internal affairs and justice (including prison guards, border guards, firefighters and police), as well as money for building infrastructure of the external border and cyber security. 

In 2024, an additional 119.5 million euros are planned to be directed to measures in the field of education, with significant funds allocated to increase the salaries of teachers with the lowest hourly rate. Also, additional funds are planned for higher education, science, and continuing the transition to studies in the national language, Latvian. 

Additional funding for health is planned to the tune of 275 million euros. Funding is intended to improve the availability of reimbursable drugs, and reducing waiting lines for examinations and medical procedures.  

The extraordinary session of the Saeima will start at 09:00 a.m. on Thursday, November 16.

Budget debates are often drawn-out affairs in the Latvian Saeima, with the final reading usually developing into something of an endurance marathon. However, this first reading will probably not be so protracted, though opposition deputies will certainly not be shy about attacking government spending plans. The second and final reading of the budget bills are provisionally scheduled for December 7.

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