RIGA - It would be necessary to clarify the issues concerning the costs of the proposed merger of Latvia's public service media as soon as possible, Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins (New Unity) said in an interview on Latvian Television on Wednesday.
Asked if financing for the public service media has been earmarked in Latvia's long-term budget, the prime minister said that for the time being nobody knows how much money would be needed for the merger.
"The problem is that the Public Electronic Mass Media Council (SEPLP) plans to clarify the issue later, when the reform is already in the process, but I think that it would be better to do it at the beginning," the prime minister said, adding that this would make planning the necessary financing and its source easier.
In Karins' view, the biggest challenge in this situation is that usually budget-affecting reforms are carrier out by the government at a ministry's initiative, but that this time the reform has been proposed by an independent authority, SEPLP, and its proposal is going to affect the budget.
"The Finance Ministry must find out how much money will be needed and where the money will come from, because allocating more money for something means allocating less to something else, and this is a political decision which the government and the Saeima must take together," the prime minister said.
Karins said that these issues should be sorted out in the near term. It is better to do it sooner than later, because the worst case scenario would be to prepare a reform and then realize that it is not possible to agree on financing for its implementation.
As reported, the government coalition has decided to remove urgency status from draft legislation providing for a merger of Latvia's public service media - Latvian Radio and Latvian Television - and to hold a more extensive debate on the proposal.