RIGA - The government agreed on Sept. 23 that only two of three special assignment ministers' secretariats will be liquidated. Only the EU Funds Secretariat and the Society Integration Secretariat will be eliminated.
Signe Balina, the electronic government affairs minister, will be able to retain her job. Prime Minister Ivars Godmanis stated on Sept. 16 that all three secretariats would be liquidated, but has since stated that as the electronic affairs ministry functions cannot be entrusted to other ministries 's a special agency would have to be formed if the secretariat were liquidated, which would result in similar costs, he said.
"At present we simply cannot do that," Godmanis said, adding that adopting a budget is more important at present.
When asked about the transfer of the EU fund absorption secretariat functions to the Finance Ministry and Economic Ministry, the prime minister replied that the issue is not important at present.
Godmanis expressed hope that the liquidation of the two secretariats would ensure government savings, which is the idea of restructuring. However, Godmanis did not name the amount to be saved as a result of liquidation of the secretariats.
"It cannot be said definitively at present. Calculations are made, but there will be gain. Definitely," the prime minister said.
Godmanis added that several changes are expected in the state government in the spring after adopting the budget. Large scale restructuring of the state administration is necessary, Godmanis said.
"The structure is too large already. Later we will start talking about uniting the large ministries," the prime minister added, without going into detail.
The head of the For Fatherland and Freedom party, Maris Grinblats, told BNS that he supported the closing of all three secretariats and added that this is just the current decision of the prime minister.
"Everybody should clench their teeth at present. If any of the parties does not support any of the budget issues, the secretariats will not change much on the issue, as the government would fall," Grinblats said, adding that each argument affects the time it takes to prepare the budget. Grinblats went on to say that there is not much time and civil servants are working hard on the budget for next year. "This time will show whether there will be particular savings in the budget or we will see other tricks of the civil servants of saving on costs of nonexistent projects," he added.
It was agreed that the government would decide on the issue, as well as next year's budget bill portfolio, in the second week of October.
The issue of which ministries will take over the functions of the liquidated secretariats has yet to be discussed. If the integration secretariat is merged with the Children and Family Issues Ministry, the name of the ministry will have to be changed. The future of the Public Integration Fund also has yet to be decided.
The issue of passing over the functions of the EU fund absorption secretariat has to be discussed as well. The prime minister has said that some of these functions could be taken over by the Finance Ministry and the rest by Economics Ministry.
Both secretariats will be liquidated on Jan. 1 as the budget bill goes into effect.