RIGA 's Two high-ranking government officials said that Latvia could begin punishing teachers and medics who accept and demand bribes as soon as next year.
Health Minister Gundars Berzins and anti-corruption bureau chief Aleksejs Loskutovs agreed this week that a task force, which would include the Education and Research Ministry, would be formed next year to draft legislative amendments mandating criminal offense of educational and medical staff caught demanding or accepting bribes.
Loskutovs told reporters that accepting undue payments would warrant administrative punishment, while demanding them would be a crime. Berzins predicted the amendments could be passed in three to five months.
The minister said he would leave the issue regarding the gravity of punishment for the law enforcement agencies to decide.
He also said he believed that the rampant bribery could be eliminated not only by introducing these amendments but by raising doctors' and nurses' wages as well. Medical workers' ethics would also need to be invigorated, he added. "A person without ideals is a zombie-type money machine," said Berzins.