The delivery of the briefcase containing the budget is an important moment. It means deputies can commence their work on the next year’s budget draft and accompanying amendments, said Saeima speaker Inara Murniece after receiving the state budget plan on Friday, 14 October.
After receiving the briefcase from Finance Minister Dana Reizniece-Ozola, Murniece expressed her satisfaction with the work of the government and its commitment to increase budget expenditures for defence. Financing of this field will reach 1.7% of GDP in 2017 and 2% of GDP in 2018.
It can be said that the budget of 2017 is a defence budget transitioning into healthcare budget, and the main point is making sure more finances are provided to healthcare in 2018, Murniece said.
The finance minister said the budget brought to the Saeima for review was surprisingly light. This is because it is the first budget and accompanying package of amendments that were signed electronically. She said the main priorities for the next year’s budget include healthcare, education and state security.
Janis Vucans, head of Saeima’s Budget and Finance Committee, noted that the committee will commence work on the budget project on Monday, 17 October. The first reading of the budget is set to take place on 31 October, as BNN was informed by Saeima press-service.
It is also worth mentioning that on her way to the Saeima the finance minister did not even stop to talk with doctors who were holding a protest act outside the Finance Ministry.
The minister later told journalists that she understands the plight of doctors. She added that the next year’s budget provides for the allocation of more than EUR 60 million for the realization of reforms in healthcare, reduction of patient queues and increase of doctors’ pay in 2016. The minister believes the government has done everything in its power to secure larger funding for the healthcare industry.
«I believe we will show our ability to sort out the healthcare sector well. We will use the funding wisely and ensure more funding in future years,» – said Reizniece-Ozola.
After submitting the state budget plan to the Saeima, the minister told journalists she was surprised to find that participants of the protest act did not want to talk to her. «Yes, I was surprised that participants of the protest act showed no initiative to speak to me or the healthcare minister!» – said Reizniece-Ozola.
Murniece told journalists during the previous protest outside the Saeima, participants asked ministers to sit down and talk. This time, however, the head of the trade union Valdis Keris refused to do the same for this protest act.
«In my two years as the head of the Saeima, this was the first case when protesters did not want to engage in a constructive talk,» – Murniece said.
Healthcare Minister Anda Caksa went out with Reizniece-Ozola from the building of the Finance Ministry to meet with protesters. She told LETA she decided to meet with protesters because they represent her industry.
The healthcare minister said next year’s budget funds are intended to raise minimum wages and execute reforms, «which are expected to be painful», because reforms cover service quality improvements and formation of a service network. «Knowing that it will be painful, I have to talk to the industry and be certain that we can overcome difficulties,» – said the minister.
Latvian Health and Social Care Workers Union organized a protest act outside the Finance Ministry.