The so-called deputy quotas first appeared at the end of the 90s – Prime Minister Vilis Kristopans’ minority government managed to secure support from the opposition for the state budget with LVL 2 million. Since then the opportunity to divide money for different books, films, municipal museums and roads has been a traditional part of the budget creation process. The same thing happened this year; only this time deputies managed to exceed the limit. Instead of the previous two to three million, deputies managed to secure ten times more.
No one wants to take responsibility for allowing deputies to spend EUR 20 million from the budget for emergencies, Nekā personīga programme of TV3 reports.
The government approved the budget on 13 October. The finance minister then carried it to the Saeima. Deputies submitted more than 600 proposals for EUR 180 million. Commissions then sent those proposals to the government for review. Following Karlis Sadurskis’ initiative, the Education Ministry then allocated EUR 9.1 million to six sports objects, two science projects and Ventspils Music School and then sent the budget back to the Saeima.
On 24 November, the Saeima voted in the final reading. In addition to proposals, deputies also voted in favour of deputy quotas worth more than EUR 20 million. This is very different from what deputies promised in September, when only EUR 2.8 million was intended for additional expenditures.
Deputies explain the allocation of EUR 20 million from the budget for emergencies with the general practice to divide the money every year.
Members of the budget committee could not say why the chosen amount was EUR 20 million and who was it that proposed such an amount. This was the agreement in the coalition, they said. The Union of Greens and Farmers demanded the money to be divided. Other parties were eager as well. «As far as I can understand from what the prime minister said, clear signals came from UGF in regards to providing support to municipalities worth several millions. And then other coalition parties said, if I may explain it simply. They said – this cannot be allowed. A faction cannot simply take money from the budget and give it to its municipalities. That said, if we are to allow that, we have to consider the interests of other coalition parties,» – explains Saeima deputy Ints Dalderis.
The money has been divided, but there are no people to be made responsible for its use. Deputies claim Finance Ministry did not protest. «The ministry does condone misuse of finances from the emergency budget. We understand that next year will not be easy, which is largely because of the geopolitical situation and economical risks and vice versa. We urged the creation of a safety pillow. It is important to ensure fiscal reserve. I would say we have a minimum – approximately EUR 40 million. Other deputies have used their right in proposals,» – said Finance Minister Dana Reizniece-Ozola.
«Formally speaking, everything is prepared well. If you look at proposals from parties, everything opposed – the government does not support them. So there is no government support. With that, there is no formal support from the prime minister or the finance minister.
They can say the Saeima decided everything on its own and they cannot do anything about it. It is no big problem that the prime minister and finance minister turned their back to the little box called the budget for emergencies when deputies found money in it. They turned away and said – do with it what you want,» – says Saeima deputy and Budget and Finance Committee member Martins Bondars.
The amount provided for unexpected expenditures was unnaturally large this year – nearly EUR 56 million.
«There is no decision in which we could look for the ones responsible. We simply have to take collective responsibility for the botched budget approval procedure and make conclude that budgets should not be approved in such a way. We should have agreed on reasonable limits and procedures. We did not do that. The government did not support any one of those proposals. […] If the Saeima supports many proposals, one should not expect applause for this process. It is impossible to get a djinn back into the bottle,» – said the Prime Minister Maris Kucinskis.
The Fiscal Discipline Council criticizes the Saeima and the government for increasing budget expenditures at the expense of Defence Ministry. This means deputy quotas have reduces the amount of funding Latvia could have spent on its army, the programme reports.