Latviski English По-русски
Friday 24.11.2017 | Name days: Velta, Velda

Kilis: government clings to empty hopes

(+1 rating, 1 votes)

Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RU, social anthropologist Roberts Kilis

Social anthropologist Roberts Ķīlis

Radical pessimism is not that evident already, currently most of people hope it is going to be better. They want it to be better, as they are simply sick and tired of tormenting themselves with questions and uncertainty. But the government has little to do with it, the social anthropologist Roberts Ķīlis told the business news portal BNN.

A year ago you concluded the society’s mood was mostly negative, but stabilizing and not worsening. Why is the economic optimism that fragile?

One of the surveys, measuring people’s mood since April 2008 is DNB Nord Latvijas barometrs. Their research shows an improvement in the average mood. Of course, not everyone is becoming more optimistic. It simply means that deep and radical pessimism is becoming less apparent. Half of the population was willing to emigrate a year ago, while in late 2010 the figure amounted only to 20%. It stresses the thesis there is «two speed» society in Latvia. There are sectors of the national economy (exportable production) whose employment and remuneration level were back on track already half a year ago. While the permanently unemployed are the unlucky ones. Their mood is worsening. The so called «unemployment expectations» have dropped as well, which means those working hard believe they are unlikely to lose their jobs.

Is it possible for our society to get rid of «the fat years» consumption habits at all?

I’d say it is absolutely impossible. Capitalist economy does not abandon consumption driven by fight for social status. You cannot change that. It is only possible to put the emphasis on smaller, greener and more sustainable consumption. If all the leaders suddenly started to travel by trams like in Sweden, then a huge part of the society could switch to these standards as well.

You wrote in your blog in a situation of a «prisoner’s dilemma» and ideal government «cuts and reduces». Why?

We should not deceive ourselves by believing the GDP will constantly and inevitably grow, due to the global tendencies. It is silly to trust that everything is going to return to the pre-crisis level and our economy will rule as a «Baltic Tiger» again. We should get used to the fact the economic development will take place much slower, ranging from 2-3% a year. One percent growth, as in the most wealthy EU member states, would be a very good indicator as well. If we cannot transform ourselves from the inside, then Dombrovskis government hopes the damaged economic organism will recover itself – grow back its extremities.

Have we hit the very low-point already?

You know in very primitive computer games they have gradual pits. If you jump over them unsuccessfully, you might find yourself landing on one of the steps, not necessarily the lowest one. Is there a final step of this economic pit at all? Maybe this was a metaphor for «a trap for the clumsy giant»? Despite joining the eurozone and and 1.3 million people, Estonia might soon not be able to ensure public services, due to its little population. Latvia’s financial stability does not exclude the government’s most important challenges, linked to the negative demographic situation. It can thrust us on an even lower step.

You head the Latvia’s Commission of Strategic Analysis under the Auspices of the President of Latvia. Will you try to generate new ideas of combating the structural unemployment?

We cannot perform the same functions as the executive power, as it would mean doubling but what we can do is we can propose new ideas for the respective ministries to discuss. In near future Latvia should implement considerable restructuring of everything connected to economic innovations. Currently they are simply on the level of imitation. There is not a single, completely safe recipe of how to reduce the army of 164 000 jobless persons in a year’s time. When electric bulbs started to be produced, candle makers with their skills were not necessary any more. Structural unemployment is a huge issue, if the economy is shrinking. When it starts recovering, it should be that people’s skills were fit for the new job openings. They do not need lectures on psychology, they need psychological support. Re-qualification of the unemployed faces difficulties in adapting their skills to the actual economic situation. Those employers hiring jobless persons of certain categories should be granted 50% discount for the social tax contributions. It was the President’s idea that young people should be offered internship in both the private and the public sectors, so that they get some kind of an experience to list on their CV for their future work and career. They are short-term solutions, though.

You forecast the Latvian country side will be completely different in ten years, moreover agriculture will be more like a hobby than means of making a living. What should farmers and and their children willing to follow their parents footsteps do?

When there is a huge inflow of cheap foodstuff from other EU countries, it means the type of the economic activity should be altered. Why should our consumers (tax payers) subsidize ineffective agricultural production? People should seek for small niches, where their agricultural activities would be competitetive, for example, growing buckthorn, herbal tea, big berry cranberries, technical oats for the pharmaceutical industry or planting aspen for heating. The structure of population will definitely change in Latvia. If we do not start selling Latvia part by part, in a long term we will not be capable of ensuring public services to distant locations. The number of people purchasing cheap country houses for a healthy life style will not compensate for the huge number of country people leaving.

Last year the third Micro-enterprises and Self-employment Ideas workshop took place in Latvia, with 220 people participating. Is it planned for this year as well?

We have developed a site on the Internet –, partly financed by the European Commission delegation in Latvia. Starting from January this year, we will organize discussions among people and experts every week.

Just recently it was concluded more than a half – 62% of Latvians are future-oriented. Will they end up having lived in illusions?

It is not bad to consider the future. But to what extent are we planning our future? The average time planned by a family is nine months. Everything following that is abstract, which is a problem, because we cannot plan neither getting a profession, nor investing in the family budget to pay back during many years. If we as the government and the society planned for more than 18 up to 24 months, we would be more successful.

The future of Latvia is uncertain, according to you, at least of four scenarios. How will the society and businesses benefit from the foundation of an institute for future research?

The society of Latvia would need 10 to 20 different institutions to forecast future. What we have is the Future Fund with Ilmārs Mežs, analysing demographic issues. Many business institutions – the leading commercial banks are concerned whether investments in agriculture will pay back in 10-15 years time. Real estate projects developers need to know whether people will buy apartments in the following years. It is important for insurers to know whether it is worth ensuring against the loss of job or business risks. The state cares for the fact whether the society will be able to sacrifice part of their welfare for servicing the public debt. The government should not intervene with the development of such a society, if they cannot enhance the process. Thus gathering the residents in the regional centers is a reasonable policy.

What would you say to those recognizing us as the «failed state»?

The article evoked a certain discussion. I would be very cautious with statements like that. Because Latvia is by no means «failed», as it is not possible in the framework of EU. We might have problems with different decision taking stages, for example, power outages due to the severe winter. Personally I would never indulge in discussions with people considering Latvia doomed. It would be like milking a he-goat…

You say the current policy of Latvia has promoted only one thing – the development of the average wealthy society level, not willing to pay taxes. Where is the solution?

Receiving services should be linked with tax payment, for example, a personal account in health care. People should be able to direct certain tax payments to specific sectors. Latvia is close to educating children after the principle money follows the pupil. The public funds to culture or other sectors to be directed money could be subject to individual choice, with the help of vouchers, like it is practised in the Netherlands, in comparison, with us when a small and personally interested group of people is dividing money for theaters, museums, publishing houses and concert halls. Only then people would realize the true essence of paying taxes. There will always be people willing to avoid taxes, there is even a company in Great Britain helping to do it. The question is whether we will motivate two thirds of the population pay taxes voluntarily.

Does the society lack long-term positive outlook, not offered by the political leaders?

The society of Latvia has never had a common outlook, not even back in 1990ies. It is crucial that the government defines its outlook for the future development and puts in on public discussion. The Commission of Strategic Analysis recommend this to the government.

Ho can the state make those who have left the country return?

It is yet too early to make them return to Latvia. It will be a topical issue in some years. What we should do is solve the issue of double citizenship for children born on an exile. The state should develop its unique immigration and birth promotion policy, as we are currently failing with it. We should not care for British people living in a multi-level society calling us «the white negro».

Do you see a strong spirit of live in Latvians?

At the moment the nation is voluntary committing a silent suicide. In Schopenhauer’s style. Without insisting and demanding that we should promote the birth rate. Discussion of experts would reveal the social budget cuts are constantly favouring the retired. Let’s say, the government clings to empty hopes, as pensioners will not be the ones boosting GDP growth in 10 to 20 years. yet they are voters and politicians are scared of them. It is not that we would actually want to die out, but our behavior could be compared to man drinking because of depressive thoughts. If we continue like this, we could really become extinct. The society needs a wake up call. As an expert, I must behave as someone screaming or hitting a gong in a public gathering.

What did the government’s approved forecast «Latvia 2013» show with regard to the economic benefit of promoting immigration?

The idea of tens or hundreds of thousand immigrants inflow is taken out of blue. If we do not restructure the the Latvian national economy, it will be just a pain-killer for 10-15 years. It is only worth inviting here fertile and healthy men/women aged about 20, in order they made kids here. However, as the residents of the developing countries would also drag along the elderly generation, it would be utterly pointless.

Leave a reply

  1. Tom says:

    “It is only worth inviting here fertile and healthy men/women aged about 20, in order they made kids here. However, as the residents of the developing countries would also drag along the elderly generation, it would be utterly pointless.”
    What? Would Latvians also ask for only blue eyed and fair haired people like Hitler did?
    And how would you know they are fertile????
    The comparison of pensioners and clinging to EMT hopes with regard to them, namely, adopting decisions in favour of them, is a scandalous one as well.

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

Saeima approves next year’s budget; more funding for health and defence

On Thursday, 23 November, the Saeima approved Latvia’s budget for 2018. Next year’s budget revenue is planned at EUR 8.75 billion, whereas expenditures are planned at EUR 8.95 billion. The largest increase of funding is planned for healthcare. Latvia’s defence budget is set to reach 2% of GDP

Ķuzis: 94% of sex crimes against children are committed by people they know

Approximately half of sex crimes committed against minors take place on the internet, said Chief of State Police Ints Ķuzis at a press-conference on protection of children against sexual violence.

European Parliament approves use of EU Solidarity Fund’s advance payments

European Parliament’s Budget Committee has approved MEP Inese Vaidere’s submitted report on the use of advance payments from the EU Solidarity Fund in 2018, as reported by European People’s Party group Latvian press and communication advisor Ģirts Salmgriezis.

Authorities unmask illegal trade of products made from protected animals

Nature Protection Office and State Police have stepped up their efforts to increase control over trade of products made from endangered and protected species in the past month. Authorities have already confiscated different goods made from animals protected in Latvia and the world.

Swedbank survey: youngsters want stability; belief in Latvian labour market grows

Stability and income predictability are two of the most important values for Latvian youngsters when planning their future jobs. According to a survey performed by Swedbank, 53% of youngsters would gladly start working in an existing company.

Myanmar and Bangladesh to sigh refugee return agreement

In South-Eastern Asia, Myanmar plans to sign an agreement with neighbouring Bangladesh on the return of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees, who have fled to the latter, while rights organisations point to atrocities committed by Myanmar's military.

Polish shipbuilder accused of bribing Port of Tallinn management

A senior executive of Remontowa Shipbuilding, a Polish shipbuilding company, is facing accusations of handing large bribes to former senior figures Port of Tallinn, the Estonian state-owned port operator.

Lībiņa-Egnere may be appointed head of Saeima’s National Security Committee

Unity member Inese Lībiņa-Egnere may be appointed as the new head of Saeima’s National Security Committee, as reported by Latvijas Avīze.

Expert: real estate transaction volume this year may reach 100 million euros

The volume of commercial real estate transactions in Baltic States may exceed EUR 1 billion. Latvia, meanwhile, remains behind its neighbouring countries because the volume of transactions in the country may reach EUR 100 million, says CEO of Colliers International Deniss Kairāns.

Finnish medication prescriptions to be valid in Estonia

In Estonia, Finland's digital prescriptions of medications will be valid from summer 2018 and vice versa – from around mid-2019.

Talks commence on restoring ferry traffic between Ventspils and Saaremaa

On Wednesday, 22 November, a delegation from Saaremaa municipality arrived at Vetnspils Freeport to discuss with representatives of Ventspils municipality and freeport the proposal to restore ferry traffic between Saaremaa and Ventspils.

Family of killed Maltese journalist take police to court

The family of the killed Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia has sued police believing that it does not perform an impartial investigation.

Saeima reduces VAT for vegetables, berries and fruits typical for Latvia

Starting 2018, a reduced VAT rate will be applied for fresh fruits, berries and vegetables in Latvia. This is provided by amendments approved by the Saeima on 22 November for Law on Value Added Tax.

Georgian anti-terrorist raid ends tragically

In the Georgian capital Tbilisi, security officers have conducted an anti-terrorist raid in an apartment, where a shoot-out has started and three suspected militants and a special forces' soldier have been killed.

Jerošenko: Ušakovs offers unhealthy policy, Harmony is used as Lembergs’ «satellite party»

«Cooperation between Harmony and Aivars Lembergs’ Union of Greens and Farmers has always existed. It existed even before Harmony first appeared in Riga City Council. The situation is the same in the Saeima, even though Concord is in the opposition. Still, in situations when one or the other matter important to Lembergs appears, one does not have to be a great politologist to notice the ties between those parties...

Bosnian Serb commander punished with life imprisonment for Srebrenica

The UN the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia handed a life imprisonment sentence to Ratko Mladić after it found the former commander of Bosnian Serb forces guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity committed in the 1990s during the Bosnian War.

EC positive about Latvia’s 2018 budget project

Based on the conclusion from the European Commission, Latvia’s budget project for 2018 fully fits conditions listed in the Stability and Growth Pact. In accordance with EC’s estimates, the structural balance of Latvia’s general budget is viewed at -1.8% of GDP. Government budget expenditures, on the other hand, are expected to grow by 7.1 percentage points.

Producer price level in Latvia declined 0.2% in October

Compared to September, the level of producer prices in Latvian industry dropped by 0.2 % in October 2017. Prices of products sold on the domestic market decreased by 0.5 %, while prices of exported products went up by 0.1 %.

Vaškevičs feels «harsh but fair» attitude from court justice system in Austria

Former deputy director of Latvia’s State Revenue Service Vladimirs Vaškevičs, who is accused of bribery and whose extradition from Austria has been a priority for Latvian authorities for some time now, says he feels «harsh but, thank God, fair» attitude from the Austrian court justice system.

Antāne: lost Russian cargoes have cost Latvia nearly 50 million in nine months

Latvia’s economy has lost nearly EUR 50 million in nine months because of missed Russian transit cargoes. While Russian Railway had approved 90% of oil and coal cargoes for transit through Ventspils port at the beginning of the year, this amount had declined to a mere 5% by September, says Baltic Association – Transport and Logistics President Inga Antāne.

In pictures: Museum of painter, Holocaust survivor Bak opened in Vilnius

In Vilnius, a museum to Jewish-Polish painter Samuel Bak has been opened. During the occupation of Lithuania by the Nazi Germany, the artist survived the Holocaust in the country.

Ratio of old people and invalids on a rise among unemployed people

The total number of unemployed people has been decreasing in recent years. However, the ratio of old people and invalids continues increasing in the ranks of unemployed people. On top of that, the number of lasting unemployed people remains high and largely unchanged in the country.

Saaremaa looking into possible ferry traffic to Latvia

The local government of the largest Estonian island is looking into possible interest of five shipping companies in opening ferry traffic between Saaremaa and Latvia.

Balta: exhaustion and overload are the most common causes for accidents at work

More than EUR 20,000 has been paid in compensations for injuries acquired at work this year so far, according to information from insurance association Balta. Compared with the same period of last year, the number of accidents has grown 40%.

Estonian town tempts population to reregister with spa in Latvia and 100 euro payment

The town of Keila, located 25 kilometres away from Tallinn, has started a one-and-a-half month campaign to motivate its residents to register back in the town as many of them have registered in the Estonian capital, which grants free public transport to its population.

Most read

Most commented