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Monday 09.12.2019 | Name days: Sarmīte, Tabita
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Economics Minister: Latvia would benefit from selling its Lattelecom and LMT shares

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The Economics Minister Artis Kampars

Currently, it would be beneficial to sell the state’s shares in the telecommunications companies Lattelecom and Latvijas Mobilais telefons (LMT), believes the Economics Minister Artis Kampars.

At the moment, this sector is developing rapidly in Europe and the amount of money gained after selling these companies would be considerable. Moreover, there is a competition in the Latvian telecommunications market, so the state’s participation in these companies is not needed, Kampars emphasizes in an interview to LNT broadcast 900 sekundes, adding that the price should be the key selling criterion.

The Minister also admits that overall to improve the situation Latvia has to carry out reforms – new job creation, industrial and manufacturing sector development, as well as qualified employees and social budget sustainability.

Social budget issues are difficult, but they must be addressed. As regards spending cuts, the social budget is the most comprehensive solution for 2012, because no further expenditure cuts in education and health are possible. I do not know what exactly to reduce, because there have been no proposals from the Welfare Ministry; however, the proportion – 1.5 billion euro – is disproportionate, compared to 400 million in the health and 300 million lats in the education sector, Kampars indicates.

If the government agrees on several social budget expenditure custs, such as unemployment benefits for six rather than nine months, we should not raise the excise tax on fuel, so that it does not accelerate inflation. Social budget is usually linked to pensions, but it is not the case, the Minister points out.

Kampars recognizes that inflation has two sides – one of which is taxes that the government can affect. The coalition partners actively oppose spending cuts in certain areas. Global oil and food price surge, due to unrest, is a problem propelled by global demand – the government cannot influence these two things.

At the same time, we are tired of reductions, we have to stop this and aim at development. Productivity and competitiveness are increasing already now, and soon enough the remuneration has to rise as well, Kampars says.

Asked about the new electricity tariffs that have been litigated, the Minister points out that neither he nor the Economics Ministry calculates and approves new tariffs; there is a system created, stipulating they are approved by an independent institution – the Regulator. According to the Minister, Latvenergo did not try to explain to the population how the new tariffs are determined and based on what methods they are approved.

If proceedings are initiated and the court sees no violations, as a minister, I cannot interfere with the actions of independent institutions. Energy policy is a free market where competition creates the lowest price possible. The company generates profit in other countries, but not in Latvia, Kampars notes.


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