Sunday, April 26, 2009

Latvia transforming

I have kept quiet for the most of April due to couple of projects to be finished, work at the university and forthcoming European Parliament elections. In the meantime Latvian government is trying to transform sectors of education and health care now. Last Thursday president Zatlers convened a closed government meeting and inquired about the pace of structural reforms. Presentations of the Ministers Koķe and Eglītis convinced the president Zatlers that the structural reforms have taken off from the absolute zero. By May 15 the comprehensive system of civil service remuneration system should be finally introduced in Latvia after eighteen long years.

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.


TRex said...

If I understand it correctly, these “closed” hospitals will now turn into private clinics, correct?

Having just spent over 320 lats for two one year policies for my wife and myself I think I can see how this will go. A really good medical insurance policy is actually double that from what my friends tell me.

Jānis Bērziņš said...

First of all, I would like to say that I liked very much the homage Ijabs made to me, comparing Latvia to Brazil in his article. As a Brazilian Latvian, I like it very much. However, I disagree with the comparison. The process in Latvia is rather of Uruguay, in every aspect.

Latvia isn't a failed state. The problem is very simple: everything meaning a greater level of democracy, in other words, limiting the assault of the state by the usual scoundrels is called "populism", even by the intelligentsia.

The problem is a political crisis of representation of public choice, the separation between the politics/politicians/government and the people/voters, so charachteristic at the European Union's level. Latvia's state has became an independet entity, serving its bureaucrats. The point is that Latvia must do reforms it postponed to be a normal state.

I'm going to write more in my blog about this issue very soon.

Veiko Spolitis said...


Sorry for the late answer, but the work with this years graduates and elections campaign takes too much of precious time:) Not really is the answer to your question, because some are plan to turn private, but some will turn into simple medical/ambulatory centres. The model would emulate Swedish example - building of centres of excellence - and the rest would have to survive somehow:)

Jānis you are right, but the same isues have been covered by me, Ivars Ījabs and other colleagues for 15 looong years and to no avail.....hence the decription of failed state. Better check out Juris Kaža blog:)

Jānis Bērziņš said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jānis Bērziņš said...

Hello Veiko! Pratically all other colleagues call any form of change and/or increase of democractic control as populism. To say that politicians are responsible for the crisis is populism. To go to Domburs more informaly than suit and tie is populism. To say that Latvia is not as developed as the USA is populism (this I'm telling you privatly who said). To say that premiums paid to civil servants is wrong because this money may be used or to control the budget or to improve schools, hospitals, etc, is populism. Everything is populism. Anyway, the IMF is controling the Latvian economy and something is going to happen. And the best is that none of our colleagues, the politicians or Domburs may say: this is populism. Anyway, just commented about Ivars's text on my blog:

And now it's my turn:
"To say that Latvia is passing or may pass through a process of brazilianisation is...

POPULISM! :))))))

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