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Latvia’s ruling coalition committed to finding compromise in budget planning

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Latvia’s Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš

Nothing in the next year’s budget formation process has been turned down yet. However, nothing has been provided with unanimous support either, journalists were told by Latvian Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš after a government meeting on Monday, 2 September.

The prime minister stressed that ruling parties continue their «interesting and equally complicated» work in the next three-year budget. «We are trying to be innovative – to look at not only the next year but also the next three years and how our decisions will influence the coming years,» the prime minister said.

Kariņš said the process is not simple, especially considering that each party has its own priorities. «On the one hand parties agree that this and that is important, but on the other hand – there is not enough money to afford everything,» he said, adding that politicians of the coalition are trying to discuss what the government should do to make the lives of residents better.

«We are not engaged in irresponsible activities, taking numbers without justifications. All partners have presented justified arguments, but the difficulty is with reaching a compromise. The process continues, and as long as there is no agreement on all important matters, individual tasks will not be outlined,» said Kariņš without revealing any agreements.

«We have not said any clear no or yes to any proposal so far,» said the prime minister. At the moment, coalition partners are actively discussing how much money it is possible to allocate for which activities. Coalition partners have different views on this.

«It is something of a sausage-making process,» Kariņš said about the budget-formation process, adding that will happily report on agreements «once the sausage has been prepared».

Kariņš explained that the goal of coalition partners is reaching an agreement before the end of the week on dividing additional budget funds. The government plans to submit the budget to the Saeima by mid-October.

Justice Minister Jānis Bordāns told journalists after the meeting of the Cooperation Council that every industry in Latvia has tasks have been postponed long enough, and that political forces involved in the process are forced to back up to find a compromise.

«There are areas from which we will not withdraw from, but I can allow compromising certain principles. Each party has done something of this kind to preserve or create a unified idea of this government,» said the politician.

Environment Protection and Regional Development Minister Juris Pūce says Attīstībai/Par! political parties association supports activities that would stimulate economic growth to secure funds for future priorities.

The minister adds that it will not be possible to satisfy all priorities of the political party, reminding that Saeima’s recent decision on rapid increase of wages for doctors was optimistic and was based on the assumption on economic growth.

«In such a situation we may be forced to make an unpleasant but important decision to ensure gradual implementation of all budget needs without focusing on a single sector. If we were to decide on fulfilling all of the Saeima’s decisions, we would not have enough money to afford other priorities either way. Pragmatic budget planning is more important to healthcare workers than short-term solutions,» said the minister.

Meanwhile, Finance Ministry’s parliamentary secretary Atis Zakatistovs does not hide the fact that coalition partners do not share views on certain ideas. He does, however, believe this is only natural.

The politician stresses that partners are committed to resolve disagreements.

«This could be a good example for society as a whole, that in spite of difficulties there is a ray of light that embodies common priorities,» he said.

National Alliance’s board member Jānis Dombrava told journalists that parties involved in the process want the budget to be as good as it can be and accepted by society.

According to him, it is good that coalition partners bring specific offers as to where to find additional funds when discussing increase of expenditures. According to Dombrava, expanding discussions in such a way would help find solutions for a larger number of priorities.

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