2019 state Latvian budget could be passed at end-March

The 2019 state budget could be approved at the end of March, Finance Minister Janis Reirs (New Unity) told LETA.

Passing the 2109 budget will be the first job for the new finance minister, Reirs said. If all goes well, the budget could be approved at the beginning of April, but Reirs wants to accelerate the process and have the budget approved by mid-March or by the end of March.

According to Reirs, members of Krisjanis Karins’ (New Unity) coalition have agreed that the 2019 state budget will be based on the multi-annual budget approved by the outgoing government, but several current policies, for instance, the policy on healthcare workers’ salaries, may have to be revised. The fiscal space is currently unclear, added Reirs, therefore financing for new priorities is impossible to discuss at this point.

When asked about new tax policy guidelines, which are referred to as a priority in the new government declaration, Reirs said they did not mean reforming the tax system, the new tax policy guidelines are meant to make the tax system work better.

“The idea is that the current taxes remain unchanged for businessmen in 2018 and 2019, but we will begin assessing the tax system at the beginning of 2020. Discussions with business associations about what improvements are needed will take six months, so the changes could come into force as of 2021,” said Reirs, emphasizing once again that the tax guidelines were not meant to change taxes, but to make the tax system work better.

For instance, the overly complex system of labor taxes is one aspect of the tax system that should be improved, said Reirs.

Implementation of recommendations offered by the Moneyval committee of the Council of Europe will also be high on the finance minister’s agenda, said Reirs.

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