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Saeima passes 2013 budget

Photo: Lita Krone/LETA.
 RIGA, Nov 16 - After a 12-hour long session yesterday, Saeima passed the 2013 national budget, the medium-term budget framework for 2013-2015 and the accompanying amendments to 25 laws.
55 coalition MPs voted for the budget, 38 opposition MPs were against it. The budget's approval was greeted by ovation and applause.
The Cabinet of Ministers and Saeima previously assessed more than 500 proposals submitted for the budget and the accompanying bills.
The 2013 budget sets economic development, demographics and increasing salaries in the public sector as the main priorities next year.
To improve the demographic situation in Latvia, restrictions on parental, maternity and paternity benefit amounts will be reduced next year. The minimum parental benefit will be increased to LVL 100. Family benefits will remain at LVL 8 per child. As of 2015, family benefits will be differentiated in accordance with the number of children in the family.
Additional funds will also be allotted for reducing queues in kindergartens and free school meals.
Personal income tax is set at 24 percent in 2013. It will be reduced to 22 percent in 2014 and 20 percent in 2015.
Next year, the time period during which unemployment benefits will be paid to the unemployed will no longer depend on the length of the recipient's period of insurance - unemployment benefits will be paid for nine months.
The monthly untaxed minimum will remain LVL 45, while the monthly tax deduction for dependents will be raised to LVL 80 as of July 2013.
Salaries of teachers, policemen, firefighters, border guards, prison and court staff and social care personnel will also be raised next year.
Extra funds will also be allocated to prepare for several important events - Latvia's presidency of the Council of the European Union in 2015, Riga as the European Capital of Culture in 2014, the Song and Dance Festival - and implementing the country's plan for the introduction of the euro.
Budget deficit will amount to 1.4 percent next year, GDP growth - 3.7 percent at constant prices.
Prior to the parliament's approval of several proposals for the 2013 budget, central government consolidated budget revenue was projected at LVL 4.656 billion in 2013, whereas expenditures - at LVL 4.792 billion.
General government consolidated budget revenue will reach LVL 5.7 billion, expenditures - LVL 5.8 billion.
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