RIGA - President Egils Levits has turned to the Cabinet of Ministers suggesting that the government, in cooperation with publishing houses, consider applying a reduced 5 percent value added tax to schoolbooks, Latvian literature, as well as newspapers, magazines, periodical literature and subscriptions.
Levits points out that, according to the first sentence of the preamble to the Constitution, the State of Latvia has been established in order to guarantee the existence and development of the Latvian nation, its language and culture throughout the centuries. The Constitution defines the importance of the Latvian language, culture, and democracy to the establishment and existence of the State of Latvia, and Latvia is the only place in the world where the existence and development of the Latvian language and culture can be guaranteed.
In Levits' opinion, Latvian literature is one of the key elements of the sustainability of the Latvian language, while quality mass media ensure democratic discourse. "Any country has to strengthen the preconditions for its existence and development, therefore it is a constitutional duty of the State of Latvia to support and foster the sustainability of the Latvian language and culture," said Levits. It is a duty of the State to take goal-oriented measures and support Latvian literature and publishing houses, which contribute to educated, creative, loyal society of Latvia united by the Latvian language and culture.
Levits reminds that books published in Latvia were applied a 5 percent VAT from 2004 to 2008, but due to the economic crisis, the VAT rate was raised to 22 percent, which had a negative impact on the industry, and book sales fell by as much as 70 percent. As a result, the VAT on books was reduced to 10 percent in 2009, but then raised to 12 percent in January 2010.
On the other hand, VAT on the delivery and subscription to mass media has been gradually raised from 5 percent in 2005 to 12 percent now. In most European Union member countries, VAT on the delivery and subscriptions to the mass media is lower than in Latvia, Levits points out.