RIGA - The creation of jobs and the reduction of unemployment will be the government’s priority task, said Latvian Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis (New Era), in commenting on his first year in office, reports news agency LETA. The prime minister recognizes that the most serious consequences of the economic crisis in the social sector are in employment.
The unemployment rate grew rapidly in 2009, and could reach 20 percent in 2010. In 2009, the overall unemployment rate in the country was 16.9 percent. Therefore, the government has given 27 million lats (38.5 million euros) in additional support for the implementation of active measures in 2010 for increasing employment, allocating funds from the European Social Fund (ESF), as well as involving funding from the state budget.
More than 72,000 more unemployed could participate in employment activities in 2010. Altogether, with support from the ESF and the state budget, more than 110,000 unemployed people, or 55 percent of the total number, will have an opportunity in 2010 to participate in employment activities which involve the provision of financial support during the time period of the program.
With the situation in the employment market worsening, amendments were made in 2009 to the law “On Unemployment Insurance,” which widened the range of persons who had the right to unemployment support, and extended the time period for payments to nine months, noted Dombrovskis while discussing the activities of his government last year.
Meanwhile, in terms of preventative measures for the reduction of unemployment, programs were introduced, such as profession education, with a coupon system for those out of work, as well as support for unemployed people who wished to set up businesses or become self-employed. More new activities are planned for 2010, including professional education at the first and second levels, organized using a coupon system, as well as lifelong learning programs for adults.