Budget debate under way at Saeima

The final reading of the Latvian government's budget for 2020 got under way at Saeima November 13 with a lengthy day of debate in prospect.

The extraordinary session of Saeima has been called to try to meet the deadline for passing the Saeima suggested by President Egils Levits, who said it should be in place before the November 18 Independence Day celebrations.

Wednesday's session is set to consider next year's final state budget bill, the medium-term budget framework for 2020, 2021 and 2022, and 26 state budget-related bills so that 29 items are on the agenda in total.

The budget plan has revenues expected to be 9.9 billion euros and expenditures of 10 billion euros. The general government budget deficit for 2020 is projected to be 0.3% of gross domestic product (GDP).

During the debate on pensions, Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš said opposition deputies were "operating outside of the facts" with some of their criticism and attempts to amend the laws relating to pensions.

In immediate response, independent deputy Aldis Gobzems - himself a former prime ministerial candidate - described the budget adoption process as "a farce" and characterised those pushing it as "robots".

By the time of the 12:30 lunchbreak, deputies had worked their way through six of the items on the agenda.

If you would like to watch the debate live, you can do so at the Saeima website.

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