RIGA - Latvian Prime Minster Ivars Godmanis has proposed shutting down seven ministries next year in an apparent effort to cut back on spending by reducing a bloated government.
The move would bring the total number of ministries in the country to 11 from the current 18.
The head of government said that he would not make any details of the plan public until the beginning of next year. He said the decision will be based on three main principles 's the existing ruling coalition stays, the number of ministers will be reduced to 11 and the ministerial portfolios will be distributed based on the representation of the parties in the Latvian parliament.
Though the government has not yet announced which ministries will be cut or merged, it had already been decided that the secretariat of the special task minister for social integration will be taken over by the Ministry of the Children and Family Affairs and the secretariat of the special task minister for absorption of the European funds will be liquidated as of 2009.
In a Dec. 16 interview with Latvian Public Radio, Mareks Seglins, the head of the People's Party, the largest faction in the ruling coalition, said that in his opinion the Culture Ministry could be merged with the Education and Science Ministry, the Environment Ministry with the Agriculture Ministry, the Economics Ministry with the Regional Development and Municipal Affairs Ministry.
"There are a number of ministries which are not necessary," said Seglins.
The People's Party head also said that he believes the special affairs ministry for e-affairs should be liquidated. "What about the Internet? Is it not working?" he said.
In Seglins' words, the People's Party believes that a "small and compact government" should be formed with 10-12 ministers. "Complete renovation of Latvian state institutions is needed," he said.