Latvian living standards to improve

The Baltic Times
Mar 31, 2008
In cooperation with BNS

RIGA- Although living standards in Latvia fall behind other EU member states, the average standard of living will gradually improve, projected Latvian Finance Minister Atis Slakteris, in an interview with BNS.

“We started off from a very low position. In fact, Latvia had the lowest living standards in the whole EU, and we are still lagging behind Lithuania and Estonia. But we have overtaken Poland, we are ahead of Bulgaria, Romania,” the minister said, predicting that Latvia will likely catch up with Lithuania soon.

“Moving towards the average EU living standards will happen step-by-step. I have an upbeat outlook on our country, and in recent years the progress has been impressive. Obviously, we have been stopped by the fact that we can no longer afford such steep wage increased without a rise in productivity,” the minister stated.

Slakteris indicated that Latvia will catch up with the rest of Europe in terms of living standards, but did not comment on the timeline. “We will work to make it happen as soon as possible,” he promised.

Based on the data from the EU statistics agency “Eurostat”, Latvian households are the third poorest in the bloc, with only Romanian and Bulgarian households being poorer.

According to “Eurostat” figures, actual individual consumption in Latvia (AIC) is at just 59 percent of the European average, while in Romania and Bulgaria the respective figures are at 43 percent and 40 percent. Lithuania’s is at 63 percent of the EU average, and in Estoniait is at 65 percent, ranking these Baltic countries fourth and fifth poorest in the bloc.