Government is united and able to avoid dividing society further - Silina

  • 2024-06-13
  • LETA/TBT Staff

RIGA - The current government is united and able to talk about complex issues without further dividing society, Prime Minister Evika Silina (New Unity) says in her annual report presented to Saeima on Thursday.

According to Silina, politicians of her generation are those who "dismantle Soviet monuments and choose not to cooperate with the aggressor state", not because they are afraid, but because they stand by their values: democracy, freedom of expression and the rule of law.

The prime minister believes that it is very important for Latvia to show unity of the government in the current complicated geopolitical situation. "We are able to communicate on very difficult issues and not divide society further," said Silina.

Overall, it is important for the prime minister to make it clear that the government cares about society and that the government wants to bring about good change. Any change comes with some uncertainty, but "by showing leadership and believing, these changes can be achieved".

Silina believes that politicians with their work can make Latvia a stronger country where everyone feels that they belong here and can travel freely about Europe thanks to NATO protection.

On 4 June, the government approved Silina's report to Saeima, which says that internal and external security of Latvia is the main priority for the government so that residents of Latvia could live in freedom, develop the Latvian language and culture, and build a prosperous and happy life for themselves here.

Another top priority of Silina is the national economy and competitiveness, in order to increase prosperity of the country and every citizen.

This year, investment in Latvia's defense has reached 3 percent of gross domestic product. The government is developing the combat capabilities of the National Armed Forces, Latvia's military industry and infrastructure, including infrastructure meant to host much larger forces and equipment from allied countries once the number of NATO units deployed to Latvia increases to a brigade level.

Silina also says in the report that funding for public order and internal security has been increased to modernize internal affairs infrastructure, increase salaries, while improving civil defense system and establishing a Crisis Management Center responsible to the prime minister.

Additional funding for internal security is at the top of the government's priorities for the next year few years.

The government is working on strengthening Latvia's border, which is also the external border of NATO and the European Union. Construction of a fence on the border with Belarus has been completed and work continues on the border with Russia.

The government continues work to double the size of the country's economy by 2035 by pursuing an ambitious economic growth strategy, Silina says in the report.

Latvia has the potential to become a green energy superpower and is working hard to increase support for export-oriented, innovative and productive companies and economic sectors. A new management model for the country's oil security reserves is expected to save Latvia more than EUR 500 million over the next ten years.

The Cabinet of Ministers cooperates with major foreign investors in Latvia to foster implementation of large-scale investment projects in Latvia.

Silina pays particular attention to reducing administrative burden in Latvia. In the real estate sector, changes are being made to reduce by 70 percent the time it takes to complete a construction project, from conception to completion.

Red tape is also being cut in the financial sector and agriculture, and work is underway to propose changes to the tax system that will simplify the payment of taxes.

The prime minister has also focused on education, a prerequisite for the long-term economic development and growth of any country. The government has already increased and continues to increase the role of STEM subjects in education.

Work is underway to ensure that every school, wherever it is located, provides quality education that meets modern requirements. To achieve this, a new education financing model has been developed.

The government is working to ensure equally accessible public services in the regions and to reduce disparities between municipalities. In work on changes to the way local governments are financed, the main principle is to stimulate economic activity.

A special program is being developed for socio-economic development of Latvia's eastern regions.

Silina's report also focuses on military, political and other support for Ukraine.

"Russia's defeat and Ukraine's victory will improve security of Latvia, our region, Europe and the world. That is why Latvia is committed to allocate at least 0.25 percent of GDP annually to military support for Ukraine this year and in the years to come. Total support for Ukraine in 2024 will exceed EUR 200 million," says the report.

In the meantime, severing of all economic and other ties with Russia continues. The accelerated synchronization plan foresees disconnecting Latvia's power grid from the Russian and Belarusian power system BRELL to synchronize the Baltic power systems with the synchronous grid of Continental Europe.

As proposed by Latvia, the 14th sanctions package against Russia includes a ban on transit and export of manganese ore to Russia. Vehicles with Russian license plates are not allowed in Latvia. The Cabinet of Ministers has also achieved that imports of Russian and Belarusian agricultural products are reduced, not only in Latvia, but in the entire EU.

This has made Latvian farmers more competitive, while also reducing Russia's revenues.

In response to the complicated situation on agricultural markets and farmers' calls for less red tape, Latvia has initiated changes to the EU Common Agricultural Policy. Controls for small farms have been eased, and greater flexibility has been given to farmers in meeting requirements.

The report says that the government is pursuing reforms to reduce prices of prescription medicines by 15 percent to 20 percent, while increasing their availability. Healthcare funding has been increased significantly.

The report also addresses work on measures to support vulnerable social groups, straighten out the pension system, eradicate domestic violence, and others.