Latvija in brief - 2010-03-17

  • 2010-03-17

“With the Family Day celebration on May 4, we will raise our values to the highest level, drawing attention to the fact that our future is in our families, not in gays and lesbians,” said Riga Deputy Mayor Ainars Slesers (LPP/LC) in an interview with Latvian State Radio, reports LETA. The ‘clown prince of nepotism’ went on to stress that the 20th anniversary of Latvia’s restoration of independence is an important day, and it should be celebrated in a broad sense, so that this becomes a holiday for “the entire family.” Saying, “The question is, how to celebrate this holiday? To organize a rock concert, which will be visited only by beer-drinking young people, or organize a celebration for everyone?”

President Valdis Zatlers sent back to Saeima the previously approved amendments to the Immigration Law for a second review, reports LETA. The amendments were originally passed on March 4, for granting temporary residence permits to small-time ‘investors’ in Latvia. After a long debate, the bill was passed with 48 votes in favor; 42 Saeima members voted against the bill. The residence permits would be available for a period of up to five years to persons who bring in investment capital of more than 25,000 lats (35,700 euros) and meet certain requirements.The law would go into effect from July 1 this year.

The government has named Jan. 1, 2014, as the target date for introduction of the euro in Latvia, reports LETA. In order to join the euro zone, several Maastricht criteria must be met. One year before final assessment, the national inflation level must be no more than 1.5 percent higher than the average level among the three European Union member states with the lowest inflation figures. The state budget deficit must not exceed GDP by more than three percent, total government debt must not exceed GDP by more than 60 percent, and long-term interest rates must not be more than two percentage points higher than the average rate among the three EU member states with the lowest inflation rates. This year’s deficit is planned to be 8.5 percent of GDP, with a target of six percent for next year and three percent for 2012.