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Tuesday 25.04.2017 | Name days: Līksma, Bārbala
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Week in Lithuania. North Atlantic Council to visit Lithuania

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The principal political decision-making body within NATO – the North Atlantic Council (NAC) – will visit Lithuania on March 23-24.

The NAC meeting in Vilnius on March 23 will feature a discussion on NATO’s adaptation to the changed security environment.

Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania Linas Linkevičius and Minister of National Defence Juozas Olekas will attend the meeting. The NAC session on March 24 will focus on the security situation in the region. A meeting with the President of Lithuania Dalia Grybauskaitė will also be held.NAC meetings in Lithuania will be chaired by the NATO Deputy Secretary General Alexander Vershbow.

IMF tells Lithuania to freeze minimum wage hikes

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) says Lithuania should put a pause on raising the minimum wage in order to sustain its economic growth.IMF has come with the recommendation after examining a range of marcoeconomic conditions.

Lithuanian Railways to be fined up to 50 million euro

The European Commission is set to fine Lithuanian Railways up to 50 million euro for disassembling almost 20 kilometres of the Rengė section of railway track, reported Energetyka24.com, citing European Commission sources.

Lithuania happiest country in Baltics

Lithuanians are happier than either Latvians or Estonians, but not as happy as people in Russia or Poland, according to the World Happiness Index. The report, published by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network, ranks the world’s nations according to poll results and six objective factors: levels of GDP, life expectancy, generosity, social support, freedom, and corruption. Lithuania ranks 60th in the 2016 index, down four positions from 2015, but still ahead of its Baltic neighbours. Lithuania is ahead of Latvia (68th position), Estonia (72) and neighbouring Belarus (61) but behind Russia (56) and Poland (57).

Lithuania’s Foreign Minister visits Ukrainian soldiers near frontline

Lithuanian Foreign minister Linas Linkevičius visited Mariupol, where he met with Ukrainian soldiers who stood on guard near the frontline, the Governor of Donetsk Oblast Pavlo Zhebrivsky, and the Mayor of Mariupol Vadim Boychenko to discuss security situation in the city and its surroundings, ways to further develop dialogue between the region of Donbas and Europe. The minister visited the Ukrainian Marine Corps stationed near the village of Shyrokyne. During the visit, separatists breached the truce and fired a grenade launcher towards contact line. Lithuania’s Foreign Minister noted that he visited troops out of respect for these servicemen and women who stood on guard near the frontline, defending their freedom and European values.

OECD presents Lithuania’s economic assessment – to do list

On Tuesday, March 15, PM Algirdas Butkevičius and OECD Secretary-General, Angel Gurría, participated in the presentation of OECD’s economic assessment of Lithuania, preceded by the bilateral meeting, where the Head of Government emphasized Lithuania’s progress and further accession arrangements.

The Economic Assessment states that Lithuania’s economy has managed to recover from the crisis relatively quickly. As noted by OECD Secretary-General Gurría, in recent years our countries’ economy has been growing faster as compared to the other EU countries, and the accession to the euro zone is a result of Lithuania’s work.The Assessment recognises the fact that Lithuania has managed to re-orientate its exports to other markets quite successfully (the exports of the Lithuanian goods to the Middle East and Central Asian countries have increased significantly). It is also estimated that the unemployment rate will continue to decrease.

The Assessment notes that Lithuania has undertaken effective measures against tax avoidance, and progress has been made in implementing infrastructure projects in the energy sector. The Head of the OECD said that Lithuania should focus on increasing effectiveness of state-owned enterprises and continue to fight corruption by acceding to the OECD Convention, as well as draw attention to the issue of skills mismatches. The OECD recommends that Lithuania review the presence of temporary contracts in the labour market. The proposal has been included into the package of amendments to the Labour Code.

The European Commission calls on Lithuania to make more progress

President Dalia Grybauskaitė  attended last Thursday, March 17, a European Council meeting which focused on the EU’s Annual Growth Survey and the progress of member states in implementing the European Commission’s economic and social recommendations for 2015.

According to the European Commission, Lithuania made virtually no progress in 2015, it is called limited. Some little progress was achieved only in easing tax burden, reforming pension and health care systems and seeking to ensure that education meets the needs of the labour market. However, there are still many economic and social problems which need to be addressed immediately.

The pension reform, fiscal discipline and stability, improvement in tax collection, and the liberalization of the labor market – these are the areas that need immediate action from the Government. EC noted that Lithuania must also reduce poverty and social exclusion, which are still among the highest in the EU. Although innovation is a key priority for the state, the higher education system is not sufficiently innovation-oriented, emphasized EC.

Baltics among EU countries to sign letter to Juncker

Leaders of eight European Union countries, including the Baltic States, have sent a letter to European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker criticizing plans for Nord Stream 2, a second underwater gas pipeline between Russia and Germany.

Lithuanian PM supports VAT drop proposal

The currently existing value-added tax (VAT) of 21 percent might be reduced, believes PM Algirdas Butkevičius. But the lowering will come not this year, he told.

Candidate for finance minister named

PM Algirdas Butkevičius has named Rasa Budbergytė as the candidate to replace Finance Minister Rimantas Šadžius, who lands nomination for the European Court of Auditors, ECA.

President turns to Constitutional Court

President Dalia Grybauskaitė has asked the Constitutional Court to look into a government decree that she believes could have been adopted in breach of the Constitution. The decree on lifting zoning requirements in resorts has raised suspicions about clashing interests and almost cost the environment minister his post.

Tax revenues ahead of projections so far

Lithuania’s central government and municipalities collected 1.132 billion euro in taxes over January-February 2016, exceeding the target by 25.1 million euro, or 2.3%, the Finance Ministry said.

Klaipėda company to tap geothermal waters

Geoterma, a Lithuanian company, has received permission to use geothermal water from a underground well in Klaipėda for the first time for health purposes.

Lithuania braced itself for winter return

Lithuanians were bracing themselves for the arrival of sharp winter cold snap over the next week with temperatures expected to plummet to -10 degrees Celsius and blizzards predicted for some areas.

New research centres will make Lithuania innovative

Two new research centres – the Joint Centre for Life Sciences and National Centre of Physical and Technological Sciences – just opened in the Sunrise Valley in Vilnius will allow Lithuania to become an innovative country, President Dalia Grybauskaitė and Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevičius told Ángel Gurría, Secretary-General of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), all of whom opened the most advanced research centres in the Baltic Sea region and a science exhibition of the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN).

The Joint Life Sciences Centre has 800 students. The tests and inventions made here can provide a breakthrough in treating cancer and creating new-generation plants. Scientists are already carrying out non-invasive cancer diagnostic tests, meaning that in the future medical professionals will not have to take samples by surgery – saliva sample tests will suffice.

Environment minister cleared

The Chief Official Ethics Commission (VTEK) decided on Wednesday, March 16, not to open a probe into the actions of Environment Minister Kęstutis Trečiokas, saying there was no clash of interest in his conduct. The prime minister said he would not ask Trečiokas to step down. VTEK was looking into evidence, handed to it by prosecutors, to see whether Trečiokas deserve to be sanctioned by ethics watchdogs for his part in helping mayor of Druskininkai to lift zoning requirements for the resort.

Lithuanian company lands fat contract with NATO

JSC Mitnija, a leading construction company and part of Lithuania’s MG Baltic group, has bagged an order from NATO worth more than 2 million euro.

Independence act signatory passes away

Politician and signatory to Lithuania’s 1990 declaration of independence Vladimiras Beriozovas passed away on Wednesday, March 16.

Lithuanian parliament will back permanent military conscription

The reintroduction of military conscription for good in Lithuania is likely to be approved by the Lithuanian parliament unanimously, said Parliament Speaker Loreta Graužinienė of the Labour Party. Almost half the positions of this year’s military draft have already been filled by volunteers, according to Lithuania’s Ministry of National Defence.

If volunteers continue signing up at the present rate, there might not be any need to draft young men who have not come forward for the military service themselves, the ministry says.

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