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RIGA- Although living standards in Latvia fallbehind other EU member states, the average standard of living will graduallyimprove, projected Latvian Finance Minister Atis Slakteris, in an interviewwith BNS.
"We started off from a very low position. In fact, Latviahad the lowest living standards in the whole EU, and we are still laggingbehind Lithuaniaand Estonia.But we have overtaken Poland,we are ahead of Bulgaria,Romania,"the minister said, predicting that Latviawill likely catch up with Lithuaniasoon.
"Moving towards the average EU living standards will happenstep-by-step. I have an upbeat outlook on our country, and in recent years theprogress has been impressive. Obviously, we have been stopped by the fact thatwe can no longer afford such steep wage increased without a rise inproductivity," the minister stated.
Slakteris indicated that Latviawill catch up with the rest of Europe in terms of livingstandards, but did not comment on the timeline. "We will work to make ithappen as soon as possible," he promised.
Based on the data from the EU statistics agency "Eurostat",Latvian households are the third poorest in the bloc, with only Romanian andBulgarian households being poorer.
According to "Eurostat" figures, actual individual consumption in Latvia(AIC) is at just 59 percent of the European average, while in Romaniaand Bulgariathe respective figures are at 43 percent and 40 percent. Lithuania'sis at 63 percent of the EU average, and in Estoniait is at 65 percent, ranking these Baltic countries fourth and fifth poorest inthe bloc.