RIGA - Latvia must lessen its dependence on oil and gas imports from Russia, Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins (New Unity) said following a meeting with President Egils Levits on Wednesday.
The premier said that since last October, the government has taken a number of decisions to mitigate the effects of rising energy prices on various groups of people. The current support package comprising various measures for dealing with the energy crisis, will cost EUR 450 million, or roughly 1.6 percent of Latvia's GDP.
Karins noted that the crisis support provided in Latvia is among the most generous in Europe, with assistance being provided to all consumers and businesses, as the mandatory procurement component and distribution fee in electricity bills has been cut to zero and will be fully paid by the state. Support is also being provided to those groups of people that are especially sensitive to any price increase.
The prime minister underlined the necessity to bear in mind long-term perspectives and one of the main objectives is to lessen Latvia's dependence on oil and gas imports from Russia and to speed up the transition to a green economy. The Environmental Protection and Regional Development Ministry is drafting regulations that will enable consumers to apply for EU funding, so they can replace their gas-fired boilers with pellet-burning heating systems or install solar batteries on the roofs of their homes, thus reducing reliance on costlier energy.
Levits indicated that with its EUR 450 million support, Latvia has become one of the most generous providers of state aid in Europe. In Poland, for instance, state support makes up 1 percent of GDP.