Sprudzs decides to step down

  • 2013-09-11
  • From wire report

RIGA - Environmental Protection and Regional Development Minister Edmunds Sprudzs (Reform Party) has decided to resign on Dec. 1 this year, reports LETA. Sprudzs has made this decision because he wants to quit politics, he says.
When the pre-election period began, he realized that his understanding of the goals and tasks at hand as the regional development and environmental protection minister would increasingly differ from the goals and tasks of the Reform Party, explains the minister.

Sprudzs believes that, in the next few months, the reforms that must be carried out will be unpopular, and, therefore, impossible because they will not be supported by coalition partners.
Nevertheless, he promises to stay true to the Reform Party’s ideals and continue to advocate reforms during his last few months in office.

More trouble in coalition
Ruling coalition partners have a difference of opinion about All for Latvia!-For Fatherland and Freedom/LNNK (VL-TB/LNNK) ultimatums concerning the 2014 state budget, but the overall mood is that the coalition will reach a compromise and approve the budget.
So far, Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis (Unity) has been constructive in talks with the coalition partners, as Cabinet of Minister press secretary Signe Znotina-Znota told LETA. The prime minister is confident that a solution will be found and the coalition parties will reach agreement.

“The coalition partners have conceptually different opinions regarding the most efficient proposals to improve the demographic situation, but the main goal is the same for all the parties, therefore the coalition will arrive at a solution that will be acceptable to all sides. The coalition has also agreed to continue discussions and find a compromise regarding residence permits. As for support for culture, this has already been agreed upon,” emphasized Dombrovskis. He believes there are no ultimatums to speak of, and VL-TB/LNNK representative Imants Paradnieks agreed with this opinion last week.

Reform Party Saeima group head Edmunds Demiters said that VL-TB/LNNK’s move could be considered unconstructive, though eventually coalition members would have to agree on a compromise.
If VL-TB/LNNK insists that the system of residence permits issued to foreigners who buy real estate in Latvia must be halted, VL-TB/LNNK must also offer a solution how to compensate for halting such investments, added Demiters.
Independent MPs’ representative Klavs Olsteins also told LETA that he believed that the coalition would agree on a compromise on the 2014 state budget. Olsteins does not disapprove of VL-TB/LNNK’s recent actions, as “there may be various methods in politics.”

At the same time, Olsteins said the system of residence permits for investments in real estate could not be stopped right away, as these permits contributed to economic development. Nevertheless, the system may be changed, for instance, by increasing the minimum investment amount required to qualify for a permit, he said.
In the meantime, VL-TB/LNNK co-chairman Raivis Dzintars said that his party’s demands should not be viewed as an ultimatum, but as “harmonization of political priorities.” Dzintars said he hoped very much that the coalition would be able to reach agreement on the 2014 budget. He added that VL-TB/LNNK was not demanding that the system of residence permits be altered already from Jan. 1 next year. This could also be done later, but these changes should be envisaged in the budget bill, he said.

The VL-TB/LNNK board has authorized the party’s representatives in the government and parliament to support the 2014 state budget on the condition that agreement is reached on three key priorities: measures fostering birthrates, a halt to residence permits issued in exchange for real estate purchases by foreigners, and higher support for culture.

Pulling apart
With forces pulling in different directions for the Dombrovskis administration, political commentator Iveta Kazoka said she finds the government on “particularly shaky ground at this time.”
“This is because the government is crumbling bit by bit, and this could halt the decision-making process if it loses the majority in parliament,” Kazoka added.

She mentions specific snags, like the joint VL-TB/LNNK manifesto on their demands for the 2014 national budget. Even though she does not know precisely what is behind this joint move, Kazoka ventures to allow for the following possibilities. The RP/VL-TB/LNNK agreement could signal a change in the political course for RP, or it is an attempt to find allies, in order to remain in government. She feels there may be panic in RP’s ranks about the party’s future.
The RP/VL-TB/LNNK manifesto was released last week, with its four key objectives for the government in drawing up the 2014 budget.