RIGA - The Latvian government has decided to eliminate the secretariat of EU fund absorption and the EU Information Agency in a bid to cut back on public administration expenses in 2009.
The government on Nov. 4 approved a reorganization of the EU funds secretariat by transferring the ministry's functions to the Finance Ministry.
Normunds Broks, the special assignments minister for the absorption of EU funding, told the press that "the decision to liquidate the secretariat was a political decision related to the intention to save on public administration expenses in next year's budget."
The EU Information Agency will delegate its functions to the State Chancellery.
The State Chancellery will be in charge of coordinating public information campaigns on the EU, developing an information strategy, organizing debates and preparing materials and publications on EU issues.
The State Chancellery will also be in charge of spreading information on the EU in Latvia's regions, covering current issues concerning Latvia's membership, as well as organizing public opinion polls and studies.
The government foresees the functions currently carried out by the secretariat will be transferred to the Finance Ministry and other direct government bodies as of Dec. 31.
The Finance Ministry had drafted the government order on the liquidation of the secretariat and said that the reorganization would save approximately 149,400 lats (212,600 euro) of the government budget.
However, Broks said that he did not think that the move would result in much economization because "only four staff positions will be eliminated."
Broks said he himself would probably not continue working for the Finance Ministry due to differences in political views.
Finance Minister Atis Slakteris said in a press release that "in the context of the global financial crisis local banks have also become very cautious in respect of corporate lending. [Because of this], we expect the implementation of EU-funded projects that have not been launched yet to slow down next year or to be put off until some later time."
The finance minister also explained that "the decision to liquidate the secretariat of the special assignments minister for absorption of the EU funding was an example of how to make the public administration more efficient. It also is a logical step at a time when the workload related to absorption of the EU funding becomes more concentrated."
After consulting with other parties from the ruling coalition, Latvian Prime Minister Ivars Godmanis from Latvia's First Party/ Latvia's Way party had said earlier that he planned to liquidate two of the three secretariats of special assignments ministers next year to save the public money, transferring the functions of those secretariats to the appropriate ministries.