Next year’s budget consolidation measures must not concern the defense sector and its budget must remain above 1 percent of GDP, Defense Minister Artis Pabriks (Unity) said in an interview with LETA. “The defense sector has already suffered a lot, and I hope that deputies will be understanding and there will be no additional cuts in the defense budget only to bring it in line with other ministries,” explained the minister. Pabriks said that budget cuts were also discussed with a delegation of U.S. senators that visited Latvia on April 20. The United States spends 5 percent of GDP on defense needs, Estonia - 2 percent, whereas Latvia - just 1 percent. “The [U.S.] has the right to ask why our defense budget constitutes only 1 percent of GDP. It is not about the numbers, but about the proportion. Five percent and 1 percent is a huge difference,” emphasized the minister.
The State Police report that a tragic incident occurred in the city of Cesis early in the morning of May 7, reports LETA. A hunter, with a registered rifle, attacked two of his neighbors, then used the weapon against himself. The man, born in 1943, had called the police earlier, claiming that his neighbors wanted to poison him. Officers arrived at the scene along with emergency doctors, who gave the man a tranquilizer and left. The police were alerted again later about the attack and resulting suicide. The two neighbors - a middle-age woman and her 29-year-old son - suffered multiple gunshot wounds and were taken to Cesis Hospital. The man had apparently taken revenge for the woman’s complaints about a drinking spree next door. She had called the police
The registered unemployment level at the end of April dropped to 13.9 percent, which is a reduction of 0.5 percent when compared to March, says the State Employment Agency (SEA), reports LETA. At the end of April, there were 157,857 unemployed registered with the SEA, down from 163,454 at the end of March. However, the number of vacancies in the SEA’s database was 3,264 at the end of April. The lowest unemployment level in Latvia is in the Riga region, at 10.5 percent, and the highest is in Latgale Province (eastern Latvia), at 22.5 percent. Reporting on other areas, the unemployment level in Kurzeme Province (western Latvia) is 14.8 percent; Zemgale Province (central Latvia) is at 15.4 percent, and in Vidzeme Province (northeastern Latvia) it is at 15.7 percent. The unemployment level in Latvia’s largest cities is as follows: Riga - 9.7 percent; Ventspils (northwestern Latvia) - 11.6 percent; Jelgava (central Latvia) - 11 percent; Daugavpils (southeastern Latvia) - 12.1 percent; Jurmala - 13.2 percent; Liepaja (southwestern Latvia) - 15.6 percent, and Rezekne (eastern Latvia) tops the list at 20.5 percent.