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Ceturtdiena 23.01.2020 | Name days: Strauta, Grieta

Attīstībai/Par! political party invites raising doctors’ wages at budget deficit’s expense

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 Attīstībai Par, budget deficit, budget 2020, Ilze Viņķele, doctors, wages

Healthcare Minister Ilze Viņķele

Political parties association Attīstībai/Par! (AP) invites allocating the necessary EUR 60 million for doctors’ wages at the expense of budget deficit, as reported by the political party’s representative Amālija Brūvere.

AP intends to submit its proposals for discussion to the government and will insist on expanding the state budget for 2020 in the near future, as reported by the party association.

Healthcare Minister Ilze Viņķele has submitted to Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš plans for healthcare development and reform approved by the previous government and improved by the current government in Latvia.

The political power references European Commission’s published assessment of EU member states’ budgets on 20 November, in which the EC outlines the negative effect the previous Latvian government’s exacted tax changes had on budget revenue and warns of resurfacing risks. At the same time, the EC is positive about Latvia’s budget plan. It is clear that even full compliance with EU regulations would allow reducing Latvia’s budget deficit by a little, reminds the party association.

EC’s published analysis mentions that «of all sectors, healthcare funding will decline the most: to 3.5% of GDP».

AP stresses that much larger risks for Latvia’s future come from instability in healthcare than from reasonable increase of budget expenditures.

Latvia has a slight budget deficit and increase of funding for healthcare by approximately 0.2% of GDP is possible, the party says.

«Although Latvian government’s submitted budget plan contains an increase for healthcare care is presented as one of the biggest tasks, this increase is expressed in nominal digits. Healthcare funding base does not reflect the worsening of the demographic situation and cost increase. This puts healthcare in a particularly unpleasant situation when compared to other industries in budget talks,» the EC analysis mentions.

AP notes that most EU countries have budget deficits and state debts that exceed that of Latvia multiple times, but EC does not initiate any violation procedures against these countries.

Estimates performed based on EC method show that Latvia’s budget deficit (0.6% of GDP) is below the average in Eurozone (0.8% of GDP). Latvia’s state debt (36% of GDP) is the second smallest in Eurozone and more than two times smaller than the average there (86% of GDP).

Latvia’s budget deficit is at least two times smaller than that of Belgium, Spain, France, Italy, Finland and Slovakia, AP stresses.

«Investments in healthcare will pay back in the form of more productive work by residents and longer life expectancy,» says Viņķele.

She stresses that unorthodox situations require unorthodox solutions. «While the EC had coordinated Latvia’s budget expenditures’ deviation from strict austerity norms in 2017-2019, Latvia’s government and Saeima have to coordinate the 2020 budget with doctors’ and patients’ expectations, which are based on laws approved by the Saeima,» says the minister.

«We believe healthcare should be a joint priority for the government and society, not just one party or industry organization. Latvia as a country still pays unacceptably less than necessary attention to healthcare. We still have the lowest indexes in Europe when it comes to healthcare,» stresses Viņķele.

Read also: Minister: pressure is needed, but the message of LVSADA’s protest is unclear

On 14 November, Latvia’s Saeima approved in the final reading the country’s 2020 budget, promising to allocate approximately EUR 60 million to raise wages for doctors.

Saeima’s decision made in 2018 provided for allocating EUR 120 million to raise doctors’ wages in 2020. This would have allowed raising wages by an average of 20%. However, the coalition has since admitted that approval of this law was a mistake, because there is no way to secure promised finances.

Initially it was planned to allocate EUR 42 million for doctors’ wages. However, in response to the growing outrage, a decision was made to review previously supported priorities. After reviewing budget priorities, as well as looking at profits of state companies and the central bank, the government found another EUR 18 million. This allows for allocating a total amount of EUR 60 million for doctors’ wages.

LVSADA chairman Keris had previously said that if the changes requested by doctors are not implemented, a request will be put in for the healthcare minister’s dismissal, signatures will be collected for the Saeima’s dismissal and a protest organized.

LAB president Aizsilniece had previously said that if doctors’ proposals end up ignored, there will be a new strike. According to her, doctors were ignored during the budget review process, and different methods were employed to ensure the budget is reviewed is as quickly as possible without addressing problems.

The previous protest did not bring desired results, and although around 4 000 people had participated in it no guarantees were secured in regards to wage requests.

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  1. Zerry says:

    Some of bad behaving doctors could also act as normal persons even if the patient is not able or willing to pay some pocket money.

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