RIGA, Feb. 7 (Xinhua) -- Latvian Finance Minister Dana Reizniece-Ozola wants to increase investment in scientific research and innovation, naming it one of the Baltic country's top budget priorities for next year so that Latvia could make products with high added value.
The minister said in an interview with public radio on Wednesday that 2019 was the right time to make larger investments in development and applied science in order to enable Latvia to create technological solutions with high added value.
According to Reiniece-Ozola, the most pressing budgetary issues in other sectors of the economy have been dealt with, and it is therefore high time to consider larger investments in development.
The minister underlined the need to make use of European Union (EU) funds, adding that Latvia was working hard with EU institutions to secure this funding also in the bloc's next multi-annual budget.
Health care and defense are the two main priorities in Latvia's 2018 budget. The national health budget, which has been increased by more than 235 million euros (288 million U.S. dollars), has for the first time exceeded one billion euros.
The Latvian defense budget, meanwhile, has grown by nearly 127 million euros this year to 2.0 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) as is expected of a NATO member.
Ojars Sparitis, president of the Latvian Academy of Science, said in a televised interview in January that Latvia's science funding had been cut from 0.6 percent of GDP in 2017 to 0.44 percent of GDP this year. (1 euro = 1.23 U.S. dollars)