The Latvian Welfare Ministry proposes to not only set a new minimum monthly income level, but also to alter the minimum pension and non-taxable minimum income, informs LETA.
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The Welfare Ministry has completed work on a new concept of calculating minimum monthly income and wants it to be implemented from 2017. The new minimum monthly income level will be used in calculating minimum welfare amount, non-taxable minimum income and various benefits. According to current estimates, minimum monthly income could be EUR 129 per family member in 2017.

At a press conference on Wednesday, Evija Kula, senior expert at the Welfare Ministry's Social Inclusion Department, said that the Welfare Ministry would also propose increasing non-taxable minimum monthly income from the current EUR 75 to EUR 129, and the minimum pension from EUR 70 to EUR 129.

The ministry will also consider linking up the minimum monthly income with various benefits paid by the state, including the unemployment benefit, possibly by introducing a minimum unemployment benefit.

The implementation of the new concept will require EUR 160 million to EUR 215.8 million annually, depending on what method will be used to increase minimum pensions, Kula said.

When asked whether the state budget has sufficient funds for this, Welfare Minister Uldis Augulis (Greens and Farmers' Union) said that considering the current economic situation and the time required for discussing and implementing the new concept, it will be introduced in 2017.

"2017 is the most realistic year when we could have the necessary funding, as it will not consist only of funds from the state budget," Augulis said, explaining that the sum will be made up of social insurance funds and local governments' funds. However, he added that "if the state budget revenue remains comparatively low, it may be rather complicated in 2017 too."

Augulis believes that the Welfare Ministry's offer will remain an important matter for the governments to come. "This proposal could reduce poverty in the country. I believe that any rational government will work on it in the future and come to a systemic solution by 2017," the minister said.

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