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Seventy-two percent of residents plan to spend no more than 40 lats (57 euros) on food for Christmas dinner and items necessary to mark the holiday, according to a survey conducted by the Maxima supermarket chain, reports LETA. 54 percent plan to spend less than last year, 40 percent plan to spend at the same level, while 6 percent plan to spend more. “The survey indicates that residents have become extremely cautious and thrifty, also curbing spending at Christmas,” Maxima Latvia Press Secretary Ivars Andins noted. Mentioned as the reason for saving money, 40 percent pointed to overall decreased income.”
There is a major potential for defense cooperation among the Baltic States, Latvian Defense Minister Artis Pabriks (Unity) said after the Baltic defense ministers’ meeting in Estonia on Dec. 16. During the meeting Pabriks discussed with his Baltic counterparts the Baltic airspace patrol mission after 2014, as, the current agreement is scheduled to run until the end of 2014. Pabriks believes that stronger cooperation among the Baltic States would be a positive signal to the Nordic countries. And at the same time he emphasized that there are several successful cooperation projects among the Baltic States that are being further developed and improved, for example, the Baltic Defense College (BALTDEFCOL) in Tartu.
Saeima, ignoring the opposition’s proposals, passed the 2011 state budget in the final reading on Dec. 20, reports LETA. Several tax increases are included in the plan. 54 deputies voted for, and 38 against the budget bill, one abstained. Janis Urbanovics (Harmony Center) did not participate in the voting. The budget deficit will be 4.5 percent of GDP. Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis (Unity) said after the vote he was pleased that the budget had been passed. The budget becomes effective from Jan. 1. Dombrovskis pointed out that talks with international lenders on additional consolidation measures continue and they will be the government’s main concern already from the beginning of next year. According to Dombrovskis, the Ministry of Finance is already working on several proposals in this regard.