What to expect in Latvia in 2020

2020 will bring all sorts of changes in taxes, wages, utilities and public transportation, so LSM.lv has compiled an overview of what changes to expect in Latvia in the New Year.

More money in your pocket

  • Natural gas: the lowest price in 10 years was promised by Latvijas Gāze in the beginning of December for the first six months of 2020. Prices will decrease by 7% to more than 10% as a result of lower global prices and the creation of a common market with Estonia and Finland.
  • Electricity: Sadales Tīkls announced lower tariffs for the next five years starting from January 1. The average decrease in rates will be 5,5%.
  • Healthcare: Next year patients over 65 will pay 1 euro instead of 1.45 to see a GP, and adults under 65 will pay 2 euros. All residents will see decreased co-pays when visiting a specialist, and other changes will improve access to healthcare.
  • Childcare: Parents will receive longer-term support in cases of illness. The support term has been extended to 26 weeks if constant, but no longer than three years whithin a 5-year period if the care is repeatedly necessary. In acute cases this will include children up to the age of 18, where previously it was only up to the age of 14.
  • Child support: The amount for children up to the age of 7 will increase from 103.20 euros to 107.5 euros, and 129 euros instead of 122.50 euros for children aged 7-21.
  • Guaranteed minimum income: This support for the poor will increase from 53 euros to 64 euros per household on January 1. In 2018 20 878 people qualified for this support.
  • Pensions: The new minimum base payment for calculation pensions will be 80 euros, according to the Welfare Ministry. Previously this amount was 64.03 euros. Disability pensions will also increase. It will also be possible to inherit 2nd level pension savings.

A few higher expenses

  • Post office: The Latvijas Pasts tariffs will will both increase and decrease. The average domestic posted parcel will be 18% more expensive. The average international postal cost will increase by 39% for letters and 6% for packages. 
  • Transport: From January 15 regional bus tickets will increase in cost by 10 cents, and train tickets will increase 10 to 20 cents. There will, however, be discounts available for online tickets and seasonal tickets.
  • Waste disposal: These services will increase across the board from January 1. Find the tariffs for various service providers on the Public Utilities Commission website. The higher rates are related to higher taxes for municipal waste disposal.
  • Unemployment benefits: The time period the benefits are paid will decrease from nine months to eight and percentage of salary paid will also decrease for all months, except the first two.

Tax increases

  • Gambling: Tax rates will increase on January 1 for all roulette, card and dice games from 23 400 euros to 28 080 euros per year. For video games and automatic games the rate will go up from 4164 euros to 5172 euros.
  • Natural resources: Tax rates will increase for sand, carbon dioxide emissions, coal, and changes in the law regarding garbage burning taxes.
  • Tobacco products: Taxes will increase for non-cigarette tobacco products such as cigars, cigarillos and smoking tobacco on January 1.
  • Fuel: A tax increase accepted a few years ago will be implemented on January 1 – for unleaded petrol it will increase from 476 euros to 509 euros per 1000 liters, for diesel fuel –  from 372 euros to 414 euros per 1000 liters, and for petroleum gas – from 244 euros to 285 euros per 1000 kilograms.

Wage increases

  • Teachers: The minimum monthly salary will increase from 710 euros to 750 euros. Wages will once again be increased on September 1 to 790 euros, however this will require an addition 9.2 million euros in the state budget.
  • Health sector: Medics will see a 10% wage increase, while residents will receive a 20% raise. 60.1 million euros have been allocated for this increase. Wages for medics have increased for the fourth year in a row.
  • Culture sector: Cultural workers can also experience wage increases, with the average increasing from 780 euros to 910 euros, or by about 16%. 

New regulations

  • International driver's licenses: The Road Safety Directorate will begin issuing international licenses, which will be valid together with a national license on January 2. It will be valid in all countries, which have signed on to the 1968 Vienna Convention. More information is available on the United Nations website.
  • Smoke detectors: It will be legally mandatory for all homes to install smoke detectors. Cheaper models are available for purchase for prices from five to 60 euros, while more expensive models can even send warning notifications to mobile phones. Detectors need to be regularly tested and have their batteries changed.
     
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