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Daiga Auzina-Melalksne, Chair of NASDAQ Riga
The event kicked-off with presentation by Associate Professor of SSE Riga, Arnis Sauka, who summarised main findings of the report. Overall the investment climate in Latvia has improved. The situation has become better in the field of education and science and in the way how policy makers work together and communicate with investors. However, as in previous years, foreign investors are not satisfied with the demographic situation and the availability of labour, as well as with the situation in the health care. The results of the third FICIL Sentiment Index show also some investors' scepticism about the impact of the tax reform.
The presentation was followed by a panel discussion with following participants: Arvils Ašeradens, the Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister for Economic Affairs, Dana Reizniece-Ozola, the Minister for Finance, Roberts Zīle, the Member of the European Parliament, and Uldis Rutkaste, the Head of the Monetary Policy Department of the Bank of Latvia.
The aim of the discussion was to develop recommendations that address the issues of demography, availability and quality of labour force, education, the rule of law, provide a predictable and effective tax system and its administration with the aim to improve the competitiveness of the Latvian economy. The public opinion exchange also covered the quality of the education system.
Regarding the availability of the labour force, the Minister for Economy Arvils Ašeradens pointed out that re-qualification of labour force and attraction of highly skilled workers in the long run is an acute issue. The Minister for Finance Dana Reizniece-Ozola noted that "although entrepreneurs say that there is a lack of labor force, at the moment internal resources are not being used to their full potential."
As for tax system, Dana Reizniece-Ozola emphasized that "over the next 3 years tax policy will not change. We have made a promise and entrepreneurs can count on it." At the same time MEP Roberts Zīle looked critically at the promise of maintaining the status quo, pointing out that this is the election year and tax policy is one of the main pre-election manoeuvres. Arvils Ašeradens addressed improvements in the work of state institutions, pointing out that "the state structures have become business partners and not institutions of punishment."
FICIL will follow-up the issues identified in the Index and panel discussion with our partners in the government and other institutions. At the same time FICIL work groups are planning the work on specific recommendations in their respective areas of work and submit policy proposals to the Government during the regular High Council meetings.
Membership is an attestation that we belong to the modern Latvian business community.
Dace Silava-Tomsone, Managing Partner, COBALT