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Wednesday 23.08.2017 | Name days: Valgudis, Ralfs, Vitālijs
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First 100 days of government: Ukraine’s conflict forces a change in priorities

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RU‘Latvia is no longer the same it was 100 days ago, when the new government had only begun its work. The situation in Ukraine has forced us to change our priorities, turning our attention towards matters that seemed self-explanatory just a few months ago,’ – says Latvian Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma.

‘Under conditions of a new geopolitical situation, it is necessary to make state security the main priority. This means direct investments in defence, the search for solutions to resolve energy independence and the completion of priorities set by the previous government,’ – says the Prime Minister.

Considering events in Ukraine and Russia’s actions, the government has decided to turn its attention towards Latvia’s defence and safety of the population. After intensive talks, it was decided to increase the presence of NATO forces in the Baltic States, including Latvia. 450 U.S. troops have arrived in the Baltic States this week. They will remain here for at least the next couple of months. Military exercises have been organized. An additional amount of EUR 780,000 has been allocated for the National Guard.

Interior affairs is one of the government’s main priorities. Authorities have begun performing measures to combat psychoactive substances. The Criminal Law has been amended in order to include criminal liability to persons who sell psychoactive substances (spice). Law enforcement institutions have been provided with wider authority to help them combat illegal trade of psychoactive substances more effectively.

Experts continue to investigate the Zolitude tragedy. An experiment was held recently – a controlled collapsing of the remaining roof section of the supermarket. The Prime Minister has also met with victims of the tragedy and representatives of NGO’s in order to discuss the details of the investigation.

In order to increase responsibility for the quality of construction work in general, especially in regard to construction projects of public buildings, and improve control mechanisms, it has been decided to begin work on improvements of regulations. The government has conceptually agreed to put off the coming into force of the new Construction Law until October 1st, 2014.

Pension indexation, which is set to begin October 1st, is one of the main mechanisms the government plans to use in order to improve the welfare of residents. An equal share of pensions will be indexed – EUR 285. From now on pension indexation will be performed following a new method. This method includes factors like inflation and average wage growth in the country, as reported by the Cabinet of Ministers.

In order to review remuneration of teachers, authorities have begun work on a new wage calculation model. It is also planned to compile a graph for the planned increase of wages for teachers.

The government has managed to achieve tax benefits for seasonal labourers who work in the countryside. People who work on seasonal jobs will be presented with PIT rate of 15%.

In regard to the matter electrical energy market, the government has been working on a special support system for poor households. In order to reduce electricity prices, the government has made a decision to limit the components of the mandatory procurement price formula – the variable gas price.

Investments from European Funds are especially important to the development of the country and the region. Latvia is one of the first EU member states to have prepared for the next planning period so successfully. Work continues – it is necessary to compile all the necessary documents, sort out regulations and perform a number of other important tasks in order to secure an uninterrupted flow of EU investments. This matter is especially important in the current situation, when external risks to economic development keep increasing, says Straujuma.

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