Saeima's got a brand new bag

Latvian Finance Minister Jānis Reirs presented his budget plans to the Saeima October 14 for discussion and debate. In keeping with tradition he did so by handing his spending plans over in a briefcase, but in a break with tradition he used a brand new and decidedly eye-catching piece of designer luggage.

The venerable but somewhat battered brown leather briefcase used since 1998 was nowhere to be seen, replaced by a white-painted, eight-sided, multi-faceted small wooden crate with an angular wooden handle designed by sculptor Ivars Drulle. According to the Finance Ministry, it is inftended to symbolize "productivity and intelligent reindustrialisation". 

"The portfolio is made of ash wood, creating a reference to Latvia's natural resources, sustainable economy and renewable resources. The revival of export-oriented production or smart reindustrialisation is Latvia's common goal for stable economic development. The life of the portfolio is longer than our life," added the Ministry meditatively.

Affixed to its front is a brass plate bearing the words "Esi apdomīgs nelaimē, vēl apdomīgāks laimē" which translates as "Be prudent in misfortune, even more prudent in fortune" or, more loosely, "Be careful in the bad times and even more careful in the good times". The words are a quotation from Latvian writer Reinis Kaudzīte (1839-1920). Whether Saeima deputies heed these words of wisdom remains to be seen.

On the reverse are the brass plates from the old bag listing the Reirs' predecessors making the short courier journey from the Finance Ministry to the Saeima. In fact Reirs' own name appears more than any other as this is the sixth time he has sent a budget to Saeima.

Inside the enigmatic white box are proposals for state budget expenditure in 2022 of 12.406 billion euros, and revenues of 10.663 billion euros.

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