RIGA - President Valdis Zatlers has squelched rumors that the money that Latvia is due to receive from international loans will be misspent. He also dispelled talks of extending the deadline for joining the eurozone, saying that the sooner the currency is introduced, the better it will be for economic stabilization.
"Radical measures are required now to stabilize the tilting ship of economy. The loan from the international institutions is not a chance to correct and cover up one's mistakes quickly. It will take radical changes in economic policy. It will take radical improvements to public administration," said the president in an address to Parliament.
Zatlers explained that events in the past few weeks have shown how important a transparent ongoing dialogue is between the government and the public.
"The issue of communication of the government and politicians with the public or, rather, lack of such communication was raised long ago," the president said.
Zatlers also added that updating the government-wary public is important in a time when unpopular decisions are being made.
"Now, when decisions unpleasant for the entire population will be made and the municipal elections are coming, it is especially important to keep the public informed in a clear, responsible, timely, respectful and regular manner," the president said.
"We must not cast even a shadow of doubt about fair spending of the financing. Those, who silently hope for personal gain on account of blaming others for creating the crisis or exaggerating their own merits, are greatly mistaken," he said.
Rumors started by pop stars, professors and politicians alike resulted in sudden speculation of the devaluation of the lat and fears of overboard spending by governmental institutions.
The president also spoke about gaining back trust from the people, emphasizing that rationality and reasoning was needed to back decisions so that the public could understand.
"Politicians, if they want to win back the trust of the people, need to explain their decisions and the effects of such decisions on the public," said Zatlers.
President Zatlers also announced that Latvia must make every effort to be able to introduce the euro in 2012 or 2013. Zatlers expressed his disappointment to parliament, saying that at a recent meeting with EU officials in Brussels he received criticism for Latvia's failure to implement advice from international institutions regarding economic development necessary to meet the Maastricht criteria.
"There was little debate and no action at all to make the process proceed to its goal. The introduction of the euro will strengthen the economic, political and national stability of our country. Now, by supporting and implementing the plan, we have to make all efforts to introduce the euro in Latvia in 2012 or 2013," Zatlers told lawmakers.
He said that accession to the eurozone would make it easier for Latvia to overcome the financial problems that the country is now experiencing.
Latvia had previously planned to switch to the euro in 2008, but the move was delayed because of high inflation 's a result of unbalanced economic development.
Following steep economic growth in recent years, Latvia has now entered a phase of sharp economic downturn. In order to stabilize its macroeconomic situation, Latvia has asked for a loan from the EC and the IMF.