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Valdis Zatlers

Valdis Zatlers

Annual Report 2010

The economy

 During the course of 2010, President Zatlers facilitated entrepreneurship in Latvia by helping businesspeople to find new markets, taking them along on foreign visits, calling on them to take part in international business forums, and working on ways of promoting the dialogue between businesspeople and social partners and the government.
 
The most important problem in Latvia in 2010 was a high rate of unemployment, so the President called on the government and the public to look for ways of reducing it. Of importance here was a presidential initiative called “Experience for the Future,” which helped young people to gain employment experience. No less important was the proposal to facilitate the competitiveness of unemployed people by helping them to learn the Latvian language.

Dialogue with businesspeople

During the course of the year, President Zatlers has continued to support the ability of businesspeople and social partners to engage in dialogue with the government. The aim is to activate this process and to reduce bureaucratic obstacles against the development of business. There are three areas in which constructive dialogue can be ensured among businesspeople, the government and the President:

Meetings with businesspeople

During the course of 2010, President Zatlers met with representatives of different economic sectors and with major businesspeople on a quarterly basis. Depending on the subject at hand, he also invited the prime minister and representatives of the Finance Ministry to take part. Discussions focused on issues such as illegal employment, tax policies, the national budget, negotiations with the IMF and EU, macroeconomic trends, ways of battling the shadow economy, as well as foreign economic relations. The President is proud of the fact that meetings with businesspeople have become a tradition, and he has said that he is prepared to continue the dialogue with businesspeople. The President is also open to specific suggestions as to how the economy and investment environment in Latvia can be improved.
 

Business forums

During the course of 2010, President Zatlers helped to strengthen the foreign contacts of businesspeople during official, state and working visits to five countries – Serbia, Macedonia, the Czech Republic, China and Russia. Each visit included a business forum, and 160 businesspeople from Latvia took part in them in all.
 
The President has also welcomed delegations accompanying the presidents of the Czech Republic, Finland, Slovenia and Ukraine to Latvia in 2010. Business forums organised in that regard were attended by 257 Latvian businesspeople and 87 businesspeople from the other countries. President Zatlers has expressed satisfaction about the fact that at these forums, businesspeople could establish business contacts which led to co-operation agreements and showed that businesspeople are interested in co-operation at the international level in various sectors of the economy.

 

Events to promote entrepreneurship

During the course of 2010, President Zatlers took part in several events aimed at promoting business in Latvia. On November 5, he attended and spoke at an event at which the business newspaper Dienas Bizness presented awards to the top companies of 2009. On November 16, the President attended a ceremony at which the Spīdola Award was presented to Ruta Dimanta, head of the Ziedot.lv charitable portal. On December 9, as patron of the Export and Innovation Prize, President Zatlers attended the 2010 awards ceremony and presented the main award, “Export Champion.”

 

“Experience for the Future”

 The “Experience for the Future” project, which is aimed at promoting employment levels among young people in Latvia, was launched on June 9, 2010. The purpose is to help young people to gain their first experience at work by volunteering at companies, state and local government institutions and other establishments.
 
Young people aged 18 to 25 can make long-term investments in their career by learning and strengthening knowledge and skills that will, in future, help them to shape their careers. This is an outstanding opportunity for young people to improve themselves and to become more competitive – something that is of critical importance given that according to Eurostat, unemployment levels in the group during the 3rd quarter of 2010 was at a level of 33.3%. This has had a negative effect on the ability of young people to join or return to the labour market. It also harms the self-esteem and the development of talents of young people.

 

 

 

The volunteer project is open to all graduates of elementary school who are prepared to spend some time in developing their skills. Young people who are interested in volunteering and companies and institutions which are prepared to welcome them are asked to visit the Internet portal Prakse.lv. More than 2,200 young people found volunteer jobs in 2010 with the help of the “Experience for the Future” project. Because of this great level of interest, the programme is being continued in 2011.

Helping unemployed people to find jobs

 At the suggestion of President Zatlers, the State Employment Agency (NVA) established an informal educational programme in 2010 to help people to learn the Latvian language so that they could obtain information, communicate with others, and, accordingly, compete in the labour market. There are three levels of training, depending on the initial language skills of the various applicants, and the programme lasts for an entire year. It is very much appreciated by unemployed people, because 8,339 of them were involved in the programme in 2010, and another 9,602 are waiting for their chance to take part. 8.2% of those who were graduated from the programme between January and October found jobs. Given the economic situation in Latvia, that is by no means a small number.