In its December 16th issue The Economist puts Estonia and Latvia together as the most dynamic duo of the European Union. All in all I agree with the overall assessment about the state of business in these two states.
However, there is one issue that sets Latvija far behind Eesti and what The Economist article unfortunately omits - Latvia still grapples with the problem introducing mandatory revenue reporting system! In Estonia such system was introduced back in 1993 and it has been the cornerstone for Estonia' s fiscal stability and overall enlightenment of the Estonian populace about the basics of the capitalist democracy!
Populace that knows that their revenues are monitored regardless of their belonging to one or another party also see their tax deductions when they invest in education or purchace morgage for their first home. In addition they are also vigilant about expenses of public servants and State Revenue Service can easily track down transgressors. Also Ombudsman institution helps here in defence of public against constant depredations of the state!
There is NO universal and mandatory tax reporting system, NO ombudsman institution in Latvia, but there is growing alienation among Latvian public. Today www.delfi.lv announced that former head of the Office of the Prime Minister Kalvitis, Mr. Jurgis Liepnieks (the same fellow who ''legally'' financed third party PP campaign) is selling stock worth Ls 3,2 million and giving the rest of his assets to his wife Diana. Is Jurgis afraid of political come-back of Mr. Skele or Latvian prosecutors office is behind him?
And last but not least....Spring 20006 Eurobarometer data shows that support of Estonian public for parliament, political parties and government is averaging from 9-13% and that is the EU average. In Latvia the same support was 4-6%, so basically Latvian populace considers its rulers and democratic regime as illegitimate! Why do pundits wonder then that Latvian populace still craves after the rule of a strong hand or to put it politically correctly, that Latvian populace still believes that Byzantian political culture and authoritarian rule is preferential to democratic cow trading...still sad:)