RIGA - Next year's budget is just a step in the big picture that shows the direction towards the welfare level of the Nordic countries, said Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins (New Unity), addressing the parliament lawmakers today.
Karins said that he wants to speak about the context of the 2020 budget, reminding that one of Latvia's goals is to achieve the welfare level of the Nordic countries.
He said that in order to understand what should be do today, one has to look back at the past 30 years. "Our country restored independence, transition to market economy was hard, but later Latvia joined the EU and NATO. This all required hard work," said Karins, adding that the next phase was the economic crisis.
"Now we have overcome the economic crisis and we are on phase five - introducing arrangements into the system. We have the economic growth, we have a chance to arrange the systems that has not been done successfully in the past 30 years. This is what the government is doing now," said the politician.
Karins underscored that the territorial reform has been in the focus of the government's work because not all local government are able to ensure good quality services. Also, the two problem sectors - health care and education will benefit from this reform.
The prime minister reminded that Estonia has managed to implement education reform by reducing the number of schools. "This is the direction we have to go - we need bigger, stronger schools and teachers to whom we can afford to pay higher wages," he said.
In the context of the health care system, Karins said that he understands medics who need bigger wages. The politician reminded though that in the past years several millions of euros have been given to the health care system. "What is the result? Are lines for medical services shorter? Are medics satisfied with their wages?" Karins said, adding that efficiency should be achieved in the sector.
The prime minister underscored that additional resources have been allocated in all sectors in next year's budget based on interests of the whole society.
"We have been working for nine months, and wonders cannot be created in such a short period of time," the prime minister said, adding that the government will implement the plan step by step. "The 2020 budget is just a small step in the big picture," he said.
As reported, Saeima is scheduled to hold the first reading of the 2020 budget and related legislation today. The second and final reading is scheduled for November 13 and 14.
As reported, the Cabinet of Ministers at an extraordinary meeting on October 11 endorsed the 2020 state budget, where consolidated budget revenue is projected at EUR 9.89 billion and spending at EUR 10 billion.