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More money promised for doctors’ wages next year; Latvia puts embassy plan on hold

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Latvian Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš

Latvia’s government might be able to find an additional amount of approximately EUR 18 million to increase doctors’ wages next year. This plan includes postponing the opening of Latvia’s embassy in Australia. This means the additional amount to help increase doctors’ wages may reach EUR 60 million, as government representatives told journalists after meeting with healthcare representatives on Tuesday, 5 November.

Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš said coalition partners agreed yesterday to find additional finances in the 2020 budget so that it is possible to find upwards of EUR 60 million to increase doctors’ wages. The prime minister added that funding increase will not be performed at the expense of changing taxes but rather through review of funding of other ministries.

Healthcare Minister Ilze Viņķele added that the coalition has agreed on allocating EUR 60 million to increase doctors’ wages next year. This amount should be enough to increase wages by at least 10%.

It was initially promised to allocate EUR 120 million for the plan to increase doctors’ wages in 2020. This amount would be enough to increase wages 20%.

Finance Minister Jānis Reirs explained that his institution cooperates with other ministries in the development of their budget programmes to make sure it is possible to find an additional amount of EUR 18 million. According to the minister, EUR 10 million has been outlined so far. The government and the Saeima may yet decide on another EUR 8 million during the budget formation process.

It is planned to look for funding to increase doctors’ wages in budget programmes of the Foreign Affairs Ministry. This may mean it will be necessary to put on hold the plans to open Latvia’s embassy in Australia.

Read also: Association leader: doctors are not prepared for a compromise solution

State capital associations will be asked to review their dividend amounts in accordance with their economic situations. Reirs also mentioned the Bank of Latvia as one potential source of funding.

Viņķele admitted the industry is prepared for necessary reforms, adding it would be a big mistake to let this moment pass.

«I hope the compromise variant will be heard and we, politicians, will have learned a lesson in securing source of funding for promises backed by law,»

said Viņķele, adding that the law should be changed to prevent impossible promises in the future.

The minister admits that after approval of the 2020 budget, talks will commence with the industry about the 2021 budget, sticking to the principle of providing source of funding when promising additional funding.

As previously reported, protesting against planned funding for healthcare in the coming years, doctors plan to organize a protest outside the Saeima on 7 November. Doctors stress that the EUR 42 million for healthcare promised in 2020 is not the same as the promised EUR 120 million.


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