RIGA - Latvia’s First Party/Latvia’s Way on Aug. 5 confirmed its party platform for the 11th Saeima elections, stealing a move from Valdis Zatlers’ playbook in the process when its congress participants voted to rename the party after party leader Ainars Slesers. The party will now be referred to as Slesers’ Reform Party/LPP/LC, reports news agency LETA.
The party’s program states that the group’s basic values are “strong families, Christian values, new jobs and economic growth.” The party claims to offer “professional government, since Latvia must compete for a place in the global economy, therefore there is no time to experiment. Latvia requires politicians who are capable of increasing the state budget revenue instead of only proposing budget cuts.”
The party’s slogan will be: “Earn money, not save.”
Slesers, the party’s candidate for prime minister, promises that Latvia will become Europe’s best small economy through sweeping reforms in state administration.
The party’s candidate for foreign minister is Janis Jurkans, who promises that Latvia’s foreign policy will be economic, and the country’s interests will be above all. Former Riga mayor and prime minister Andris Berzins is the party’s candidate for finance and economy minister. Berzins promises to reduce residents’ income tax to 20 percent in three years time.
The party’s candidate for transport minister is Vitalijs Aizbalts, who promises to restore the liquidated Highway Fund and channel to it 80 percent of the excise tax on fuel. It’s candidate for welfare minister, Ainars Bastiks, promises to restore maternity benefits and ensure decent pensions.
Dainis Turlais, the party’s candidate for defense and interior minister, points out that the recent tragic events in Norway indicate that internal and external security are no longer two separate terms. Eizenija Aldermane is the party’s candidate for education and culture minister, Rita Strode - for environmental protection and regional development minister, Juris Radzevics - for justice minister, Janis Zarzeckis - for health minister.
With the election race well off the starting block, Zatlers Reform Party (ZRP) has announced its own economic program. The party’s platform promises to make the tax system more progressive, reduce the tax burden on labor, increase property tax and raise the reduced value added tax rates. The overall tax burden will not increase, as one of the author’s of the economic program, economist Vjaceslavs Dombrovskis, said at a press conference on Aug. 4.
ZRP presented its medium-term economic program for 2011-2018, which stipulates four reforms to be carried out in the first three years and five reforms during the entire period of the program.
One of the reforms deals with changes to the law and public procurement system to encourage economic growth, legal employment and fair competition.
For this to happen, ZRP plans to reduce the tax burden on labor 9 percentage points in three years. To offset the negative fiscal effect of this, the changes will be compensated by increasing property tax, raising the reduced VAT rates and combating the payment of wages under the table.
At the same time, the increase in VAT rates will be compensated for the needy by increasing the non-taxable minimum and permitting local governments to introduce property tax breaks.
The program also offers several changes to the tax system in the medium term to motivate local governments to contribute more to business development.
For instance, property tax will be collected by the State Revenue Service, while tax revenue will be handed to local governments, which will be able to introduce tax reductions if that may encourage business development.
The program stipulates that the State Revenue Service will be reorganized to make it customer and taxpayer-friendlier, according to the principles of the Road Traffic Safety Directorate or the Register of Enterprises.
The public procurement system will also be altered in several ways: companies will have to meet a certain set of requirements and a ceiling will be introduced on profit from public procurement.
Other reforms proposed by ZRP include reduction of government debt, pursuit of modern industrial and investment policies, more efficient use of state resources, reforming the higher education and science sector, reducing unemployment, privatization of state and municipal companies, except those of strategic importance.
ZRP’s reforms also deal with making health care and education accessible to more people in order to encourage residents to pay taxes, more efficient use of European Union funds, work on making the Common Agricultural Policy fairer to Latvian farmers.
On Aug. 6 the parties that make up the Unity political alliance officially merged into one party during a general meeting in the town of Valka. Unity’s co-chairpersons Girts Valdis Kristovskis, Solvita Aboltina and Aigars Stokenbergs signed the reorganization agreement, establishing one party.
Unity press secretary Laila Timrota said that the party’s main goal is the sustainable development of Latvia. Other main goals include stable growth of the national economy, improving the country’s demographic situation, and the development of educated, tolerant and free individuals.
Unity’s goals also include the strengthening of the rule of law and the fight against corruption.
The three parties that make up Unity - Civic Union, New Era and Society for Different Politics, previously supported merging into one party.
During the general meeting Unity confirmed current Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis as the party’s prime minister candidate for the 11th Saeima elections.