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Saeima committee supports next year’s budget project for final reading

Publicity photo.
Saeima’s Budget and Finance Committee supported the next year’s budget project, siding mainly with the government’s decisions in funding matters.

Six coalition deputies voted in favour of the budget project and four opposition deputies voted against. No one abstained.

Deputies supported only some proposals that previously received no support from the government. To provide additional funding to higher education, it is planned to allocate around EUR 302,000 from the budget for emergencies.

On Wednesday, 15 November, deputies reviewed approximately 100 proposals for the budget and medium-term plans. Deputies mainly stayed in line with the government’s previously established opinion and declined proposals for separate distribution of funds.

Members of the parliament initially proposed distributing finances of EUR 223 million, but the government had already previously expressed support for Education and Science Ministry’s proposal to increase funding for boarding schools. A total of EUR 2,402,219 will be allocated for this goal in 2018. Multiple coalition deputies also decided to withdraw their own proposals. No initiatives from the opposition were supported during the final reading.

28 legislative drafts associated with the state budget also received 300 associated proposals. The committee started discussing them on Monday.  All proposals received support from deputies and were added to the final document in the final reading.

Disputes did appear during discussions of legislative drafts, but work nonetheless progressed forward more quickly than in previously years. Politicians explain this by saying that the budget project added no changes to tax rates, because the tax reform intended for introduction next year was approved in summer.

When deciding on budget matters, however, members of the parliament agreed to reduce VAT rate to 5% for Latvian fruits, berries and vegetables. This reduced tax rate will be in force between 1 January 2018 and 31 December 2020. The committee also rejected the proposal to reduce VAT for fish, fresh meat, milk and butter.

Deputy Ints Dālderis proposed declining the initiative to reduce VAT for Latvian fruits, berries and vegetables. The committee declined his proposal in the end.

Members of the parliament supported proposals for Education Law that provide the government with the opportunity to dictate the minimal number of pupils in middle schools.

The committee also supported the proposal to pay family benefits for 19-year-olds that continue studying. The law also provides setting bonuses for a specific number of children. This particular practice will be regulated by cabinet rules.

Amendments to the Law on Immigration sate that conditions for payments of EUR 5,000 for residence permits to the state budget will apply to all recipients that have invested in real estate, capital associations and bank commitments. Payment of this amount will be allowed to be divided into instalments.

Changes to legislative drafts also provide greater benefits for adopted child care and performance of foster families’ duties. Funding is planned to be allocated to support specialized foster families and formation of regional support centre, as well as introduction of a Foster Families Registry to speed up adoption of children.

It is planned that the Saeima will decide on the state budget of 2018, medium-term budget and 28 associated legislative drafts on 22 November.


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