Latvia ups asylum seekers' daily allowance

Latvia's Cabinet of Ministers on Tuesday increased asylum seekers' daily allowance to €3 from €2.15.

The subsistence allowance is paid to asylum seekers residing at the Mucenieki asylum seekers' center near Rīga.

It's meant to cover basic expenses like hygiene products and essential goods.

Justice Minister Dzintars Rasnačs (National Alliance) said that his party objects against the move, claiming that there are other people in Latvia living in poverty, too. He said that there are other groups in society which receive lesser benefits - between €1.44 to €2.77 per day.

Rasnačs faced backlash from PM Māris Kučinskis, who, according to LETA, said that ''We can compare this ad absurdum if we wish and say that it would be better if these asylum seekers were put in jail, where they would get seven euros,'' Kučinskis said, reminding that these persons have not arrived to a foreign country because they wanted to, but because they are fleeing war.

Interior Minister Rihards Kozlovskis (Unity) said that the funds for raising the subsistence allowance had been allocated previously so no extra money will have to be squeezed from this year's budget.

On Tuesday Sandra Zalcmane, the head of the NGO Shelter Safe House, told Latvian Radio that the subsistence allowance has remained unchanged for 15 years, even though the prices of goods and services have grown significantly.

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