Sunday, April 26, 2009
It is hard to follow all the events because the whole state governance system is forced to transform now. In meantime there are many unknowns due to expected massive layoffs. By the end of the years there is a plan to lay off about 4000 teachers and cut the number of hospitals by half (from 56 to about 23). The reality is harsh and long postponed reforms have to be managed all at once in Latvia now. Scenarios about the future range from apocalyptic visions of Ivars Ījabs to moderate assessments of Latvia coping with the existing crisis for the next twenty years. Latvia is transforming and to paraphrase young people of the late 1980's from the Juris Podnieks movie "Is it easy to be a young person?" ("Vai viegli būt jaunam") one may conclude that it is not easy to be a Latvian citizen in 2009.
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
It is Wednesday morning and today Saeima must pass constitutional amendments in Art. 78 and 79 in final third reading, thus giving 1/10 of the electorate a right to initiate early elections. Latvian PM Dombrovskis just gave a very concise interview on Latvian radio, where he explained that the government simply cannot afford to back off from plans to overhaul the economy. The strategy for the budget making, that should be accepted somewhere in the early June, is to bring the government expenses down to the 2006 level, good. Valdis Dombrovskis must clean up the mess of previous and very complacent "apparatchiks", and while there is some whining here and there the overall comprehension among the majority in society hopefully is - you reform or you die!
Reforms are piecemeal so far and communication between the government and IMF is secretive. While the Minister of Health Mr Eglītis (People's Party) announced that he disagrees with the proposed budget cuts in health care system PM disagreed with him, thus Mr Eglītis must figure out how to overhaul the system of health care after all. The same is expected from the Minister of Education and Science Mrs Koķe (Union of Greens & Farmers). Sending her own employees from the ministry to participate in the Teachers Trade Union organized march was not the most brilliant idea. New ideas for overhauling the relic of Soviet past, stagnant and ineffective system of education are required from Madam Koķe, does she & her party have them, if they do not even have a real candidacy for Maire's post for the upcoming municipal elections?
Required administrative reforms are very well showing other bottlenecks in Latvian governance system. Hopefully the early spring endogenous reforms will brake a way in for a new generation coming into the Latvian political field. The spring weather is promising so far.
P.S. And while Latvian government has to overhaul their economy with the means possible Estonians are recalling the role of Finnish YLE to provide the cultured elites of Estonia during the Soviet occupation. There is documentary released about the same phenomenon that is so often brought up in discussions, when Latvian and Estonian economies & societies are compared these days.
P.P.S. Those of you reading Latvian here is my piece I wrote for Diena on April 2, 2009