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2021 budget passed by Saeima after record-breaking debate

Following more than a week of lengthy deliberations, the Saeima finally passed the 2021 budget plan on December 2, at the end of a parliamentary session that started on November 23.

The days between were largely taken up by opposition deputies blasting both the budget plans themselves and the low level of participation in the debates by representatives of the ruling coalition.

Despite having their speaking time cut, opposition members managed to drag the debate to a new 8-day record duration and concluded it by continuing to heavily criticise the manner in which the debate had been pushed through parliament. The Greens and Farmers Union (ZZS) took the lead on some days and the Harmony party on others, with various unattached members also to the fore.

At the conclusion of the debate Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš stressed the importance of passing the budget saying "This is an extraordinary situation" and praised deputies for working through the hundreds of amendments in virtual format instead of in the actual Saeima debating chamber.

"We are - you are - as Saeima deputies - a reflection of our Latvian society," the PM said, admitting the importance of opposition in the political process and expressing hopes that next year's budget process would be easier for all concerned.

However, maverick opposition MP Aldis Gobzems said the budget constituted "hari kiri" [sic] by the government and predicted it would last just one or two months before falling.

The vote passed by 63 votes to 32, after which a relieved-looking parliamentary speaker, Inara Mūrniece, thanked deputies and the government for their work before declaring a recess ahead of Kariņš planned state of the nation speech in the afternoon.

Revenues of the consolidated state budget for 2021 are planned at 9.579 billion euros, while expenditure is 10.759 billion euros. Compared to the 2020 budget, the planned state budget revenues for next year are expected to be 328 million euros lower. In turn, the state budget expenditures next year are planned to be 744.1 million euros higher than in the 2020 state budget law.

The planned revenue in the basic budget in 2021 is 6.7 billion euros, but the expenditure is 7.8 billion euros. The general government budget deficit in 2021 is planned at 1.2 billion euros or 3.9% of gross domestic product.

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