Rihards Kozlovskis has returned to the position of Minister of Internal Affairs after a break of several years. He previously held the post from 2011 to 2019.
Asked about the most important work for internal affairs at the moment, Kozlovskis pointed to personnel issues: "Unfortunately, [there are] unfilled positions in all services. I see that in the last five years, for example, the percentage in the [State Fire and] Rescue service has increased threefold. Also in the State Police, the total vacancies are close to 30%."
This will be one of the priorities of the new government, he said, expressing hopes that in the medium term it will be possible to even out the differences between the provision for the National Armed Forces and the internal affairs system (which includes police, border guards, prison warders etc). Although salary increases are planned for the internal affairs services next year, this gap will not be overcome in one year.
"I hope that I will be able to achieve and agree in the government as well that we do this in the medium term. We have a commitment to reach 2.5% [of gross domestic product] by 2026 for internal security and public order," Kozlovskis said, adding that this figure includes not only the internal affairs services, but also the prosecutor's office and law enforcement agencies.
Next year it is envisaged that spending on defense will already hit 3% of GDP.
In addition to raising wages, social guarantees should also be improved. The politician pointed to the subsistence allowance for NBS soldiers, and compensation for accommodation. "We need to see how we can move in this direction. Of course, I am also aware of the real situation in the budget," Kozlovskis said. Regarding the next year, a 10% salary increase in the internal services was possible, plus progress on social guarantees, he suggested.