New government's priorities include territorial reform, higher minimum wage, preserving schools in frontier regions

  • 2019-01-13
  • LETA/TBT Staff

RIGA - The new government's priorities will include territorial reform, bolstering the national economy, continuing reforms to education and healthcare, rule of law, national security, cooperation with Latvian diaspora abroad, and demography, according to the main ideas put forward by ministers in the new government, which will form the basis of the new government's declaration.

Pending coalition parties continue to work on the draft declaration, therefore the declaration can still change substantially. New Unity's politicians have said that some of the proposals are too costly and there is no money in the budget for them, which is why some of the plans may be put off.

The first version of the declaration includes 15 chapters that offer general definitions of the pending government's goals and objectives.

For instance, the declaration's chapter on financial affairs emphasizes the need to strengthen the national economy by pursuing responsible fiscal policy and revising budget expenditures, reducing administrative burden on public and municipal institutions. The new government resolves to pursue predictable tax policy, increase the minimum wage, and bring non-taxable minimum closer to the minimum wage, as well as simplify application of labor taxes.

The draft declaration's chapter on defense says that the main goal of the national defense system is to ensure security and protection from conventional and unconventional threats. National security will be based on self-defense and collective defense, and comprehensive national defense will also ensure resilience to external influence. The chapter also emphasizes the need to improve cyber security in Latvia.

The chapter on education and science lists the following priorities: access to quality and competitive education, increasing financing for science and research, improvements in lifelong education, as well as fostering the use of the Latgalian language in Latgale.

The chapter on the rule of law emphasizes public trust in courts and improving courts' reputation. It also mentions construction of a new prison in Liepaja, and reducing political parties' dependence on private donations by increasing state financing for the parties.

In transport, the new government will work on the development of smart transport policies and keep a close eye on implementation of the Rail Baltica railroad project, as well as improve Latvian Television and Latvian Radio's penetration near Latvia's borders.

The chapter on healthcare currently stipulates that access to timely healthcare services is one of the fundamental human rights, therefore the government will work on a universal healthcare system financed from different sources and accessible to all residents of Latvia, regardless of how well-off they are or where they live.

The new government could carry out a territorial reform and will foster the development of sustainable regions. The government will also work on environmental protection, climate policy, e-governance, ICT, and public services.

In culture, the focus will be on preservation of national culture and Latvian language.

Members of the new government also pledge that they will consider reducing value added tax on fresh meat, eggs, and dairy products.

The government's economic priorities will include exports, productivity, availability of labor, and achieving that the number of companies that export their service or products increases by 5,000.

The new government will continue Latvia's current foreign policy and ensure Latvia's active participation in international organizations, especially in the EU, NATO, and OECD.

Yet another priority of the new government will be "growing Latvia" - creating conditions for Latvia's birth rate to increase and for Latvia to have more happy families.