Latvian Parliament passes 1999 budget

  • 1999-03-04
RIGA (BNS) - Parliament adopted a 1.41 billion lat ($2.43 billion) 1999 budget Feb. 25 by a vote of 60 to 40. All 46 coalition deputies were joined by the 14 Social Democrats in support of the budget. The People's Party and For Human Rights in a United Latvia voted against it.

The budget was worked out without a financial deficit, but the fiscal deficit of the aggregate budget is planned to be larger than it was in 1998.

A fiscal deficit means that special budgets will borrow funds from the basic budget for implementation of various programs in the event their revenues are insufficient. The deficit of the special budgets is planned at 60 million lats.

The People's Party was extremely critical of the government's willingness to increase the national debt by 114 million lats. A statement released by the party called the budget "irresponsible."

The budget forecasts GDP growth at 4 percent in 1999 and the inflation rate at 4.6 percent. The maximum state debt is planned at 485 million lats and 2.2 million las will be set aside for emergencies.

The budget allocates 22.5 million lats for unemployment benefits in 1999, nearly 8 million lats more than in 1998.

Welfare Ministry Secretary of State Maija Porsnova previously explained the increase in the unemployment benefits allocation by the fact that the unemployment benefits are growing, people are remaining unemployed longer and the unemployment level is expected to grow.

Currently 9.4 percent of the work age population in Latvia is out of work, which is the highest recorded level since unemployment registration began in Latvia.