Latvija in brief - 2011-08-18

  • 2011-08-17

Due to objections from the Finance Ministry, Saeima’s Social and Labor Affairs Committee has decided to remove a proposal to index pensions of under 165 lats (237.70 euros) a month from a bill of amendments to the Law on State Pensions that the Saeima is to review, reports LETA. According to committee Chairwoman Aija Barca (Union of Greens and Farmers), President Andris Berzins had promised to include the bill on the agenda for the next Saeima meeting only if agreement was reached with the Finance Ministry on indexing such pensions. Barca said that indexation would concern 430,000, or 74 percent, of all pensioners. The Finance Ministry’s parliamentary secretary Ilze Vinkele (Unity) said that the matter of small pension indexation should be considered together with the state budget for next year. The committee plans to ask Berzins to call an emergency Saeima session on Aug. 25, so the amendments could be passed in the final reading already on Sept. 8.

If Saeima elections were held this week, Harmony Center would gain the most seats in parliament - 36, according to the results of a public opinion survey carried out by social research company GfK, reports LETA. Unity and Zatlers’ Reform Party would gain 22 and 20 seats, respectively, according to the survey. The Union of Greens and Farmers would gain 12 seats while All for Latvia!-For Fatherland and Freedom/LNNK would gain 10 seats. The survey also asked voters their favorite prime minister candidate, with 22 percent of respondents supporting current Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis (Unity). Twenty percent of respondents support Riga Mayor Nils Usakovs (Harmony Center), 17 percent support controversial Ventspils Mayor Aivars Lembergs (For Latvia and Ventspils), whilst 8 percent support former Latvian President Valdis Zatlers (Zatlers Reform Party). The GfK survey was carried out from Aug. 8 to 11, polling 804 Latvian citizens of voting age.

At the end of July, Latvia’s population stood at 2.2169 million, which is 1,900 persons less than at the end of June, according to the Central Statistical Bureau’s data, reports At the end of July 2010, Latvia’s population was 2.2392 million. Census data is still being collected, with the official results to be announced at the end of this year. Due to the number of deaths exceeding births, the population decreased by 5,700 persons in the first half-year, while due to the long-term emigration, it’s down by 8,000. Even though the decline in population slowed in 2007-2008, the figure increased again in 2009, and 2010 saw the largest decrease in the country’s population since 1998. From 1995 to 2010, the decline was mainly affected by the number of deaths exceeding births, while in 2011, for the first time, emigration had the most significant impact on the population decline.