Observer Latvija SIA
WEEK 4th. 2004

Friday, the 23rd of January, 2004

Latvia is the only country ready for euro
According to the survey compiled by the Bank of Austria, Latvia is the only country of the 10 EU candidate states, which follows all the criteria of Maastricht in order to join the European Monetary Union. The authors of the survey believe that as Latvia had the budget deficit not more than 2.5 percent and state debt not more than 14 percent and had slight currency exchange rate fluctuation it could apply for the euro zone already in 2002. According to the data at the European Commission, Latvia had the lowest inflation among the 10 EU candidate states in 2002. However, in 2003, inflation in Latvia exceeded 3 percent. The Latvian economists assume that it is the only criteria, which could cause problems to Latvia in introducing euro.

Potential of state guarantee agency increased
The Latvian Guarantee Agency has once again increased the maximal limit of the state support for the projects of small and medium companies in the last three months. By attracting resources from the EU structural funds in the time period from 2004 to 2006 the agency will be able to provide state guarantees for some LVL 25 million. The limit for starting entrepreneurship has increased from LVL 20,000 to LVL 50,000. Also immaterial projects, e.g., connected with receiving licenses, purchase of patents, will be given state guarantees. The limit of state guarantees for those, who wish to expand their business, has increased the most – from LVL 90,000 to LVL 200,000. Already functioning companies that intend to expand their operations and attract additional investments will be able to apply as well.
(Biznes & Baltija)

Thursday, the 22nd of January, 2004

State to deal with innovations
The government believes that the Latvian economy should be based on high technologies. In April 2003, the government approved the National Innovations Program. Its main goal is to increase the volume of the science-intensive industries in the national industry from the current 7-8 percent to at least 25 percent. On January 21, the Ministry of Economy introduced the journalists to the activities plan for 2004. It anticipates spending LVL 12 million for different activities, which should improve the innovation environment in Latvia. The Minister of Economy, Juris Lujans, stated that similar documents would be developed for every coming year now. It is necessary to improve the overall innovations environment, organize events about the significance of innovations, to raise the qualification of the employees, to promote implementing innovations in commerce, to support cooperation of Latvian scientists and entrepreneurs with foreign colleagues and to support creating a world level infrastructure of innovations. Most of the resources needed for the program will come from the EU structural funds.
(Biznes & Baltija)

Tuesday, the 20th of January, 2004

Ministry of Finance traces record-high indices
Last year, the State Revenue Service (SRS) collected LVL 1.741 billion in taxes, an increase of 11.8 percent compared to 2002. The deficit of the consolidated budget amounted to 1.8 percent of the GDP last year. It is the lowest in the last five years.
(Biznes & Baltija)

Monday, the 19th of January, 2004

11 percent increase
The newspaper has performed a survey by questioning 300 managers and officials. According to the survey, the turnover of the economically active companies in Latvia increased by 11 percent on average in 2003 compared to 2002. 34 percent of the surveyed entrepreneurs replied that the turnover of their companies most likely would remain the same in 2003 as it was in 2002. The economist Edmunds Krastins states that the development of the companies last year was fostered also by euro currency exchange rate increase and the decrease of US dollar currency exchange rate. The majority of the questioned entrepreneurs were not very positive in the turnover increase forecasts for 2004. They believe that in the best case the level of 2003 will be maintained. One of them replied that the current situation is pessimistic. The government has not developed precise plans for acquisition of the EU structural funds and is not prepared for them. Nevertheless, there are companies in Latvia that plan to have 50 percent or even 100 percent turnover growth in 2004. Mr. Krastins stresses that several industries, e.g., food production and textile industry, will have to encounter increase in competition, which may lead to decrease in production volumes.
(Dienas Bizness)

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