At an extraordinary meeting on 13 October, Latvian Cabinet of Ministers approved the 2017 state budget project and the legal draft for budget contents for 2017, 2018 and 2019. Next year’s state consolidated budget revenue is planned at EUR 8.066 billion and expenditures are planned at EUR 8.367 billion.
«While working on the next year’s budget, the government had made some important decisions in relation to the future development of our country. Additional funding has been found for public priorities like defence and security, healthcare and education. It was possible to find resources for those priorities by reviewing existing expenditures and by introducing multiple measures to reduce grey economy. It is good that we will also have fiscal guarantee reserve next year,» – comments Finance Minister Dana Reizniece-Ozola.
Compared with 2016 budget, next year’s planned state budget revenue is expected to be larger by EUR 664 million. The state budget’s expenditures are expected to be EUR 681 million larger than this year, Finance Ministry reports.
Next year, financing for healthcare will increase by EUR 64 million. The increase is mostly associated with the allocation of additional funding for the realization of the healthcare system’s reform. Additional funding was secured thanks to an agreement with the European Commission in regards to budget deficit deviation by 0.1% of GDP. With that, additional funding worth EUR 34.3 million will be allocated in 2017.
Execution of a reform in healthcare will ensure the increase of accessibility of oncology services, diagnosis services, rehabilitation and physical medical services.
Funding for state defence will grow by EUR 98 million in comparison with 2016. Financing will reach 1.7% of GDP. In addition it is also planned to ensure defence expenditures at 2% of GDP in 2018 and 2019.
Financing of Latvia’s education sector will be larger by EUR 11 million in comparison with 2016. It should be said that the government has secured an additional amount of EUR 47.2 million for the introduction of the teacher’s pay reform, the ministry notes.
Funding for social protection will be EUR 197 million larger in 2017 in comparison with 2016. Funding for public order and security will be EUR 80 million larger.
Speaking of demographic measures, the next year’s budget provides for an additional amount of EUR 19 million. The state benefit for families for fourth and other children will be EUR 50.07 instead of EUR 34.14. Additional financial support will also be provided to children who lost one of their parents.
Next year, it is also planned to increase minimum wage amount to EUR 380.
The expected economic growth rate for 2017 is 3.5%. In 2018 and 2019, economic growth in Latvia is expected to be 3.4% annually. The expected employment growth in 2017 is 0.2%.
Legal drafts in relation to the next year’s budget, including 57 amendments accompanying the main document, in addition to the medium-term budget plan will be submitted to the Saeima for review on Friday, 14 October.