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Monday 24.10.2016 | Name days: Renāte, Modrīte, Mudrīte

Week in Lithuania. Lithuanian Energy Minister discusses energy imports from U.S.

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Lituanian Minister of Energy Rokas Masiulis

Energy Minister of the Republic of Lithuania, Rokas Masiulis has met Lisa Murkowski, Chairwoman of the U.S. Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee, on his visit to the United States of America. The meeting focused on export opportunities of energy resources from the U.S. to Europe and Lithuania.

The goal of the Lithuanian Minister‘s visit was to enhance bilateral cooperation between Lithuania and the US in the area of energy, to share experience as regards energy security and implementation of strategic energy projects. On Wednesday, September 30, Masiulis delivered a report at Georgetown University about Lithuania’s leadership in the European Energy Security Policy.

Lithuanian Seimas wants more authority on refugee resettlement

A group of Lithuanian MPs have suggested that parliament should have a say on issues concerning refugee resettlement. Meanwhile the ruling Social Democratic Party has offered a political agreement among the major parties, saying that an issue as sensitive as asylum seekers should not be made the topic for electoral campaigning. Meanwhile a group of five MPs have suggested including into the legislation that any decisions on refugee resettlement in Lithuania need the approval from parliament.

According to the MPs, the issue is of great relevance to national politics and therefore the Seimas of Lithuania should have a say. The opposition, however, is sceptical about such an agreement, saying that the ruling majority should first put together a plan on how to integrate asylum seekers. Lithuania has pledged to accept 1,105 refugees over the coming two years as part of the European Union’s effort to deal with the influx of refugees from the Middle East and Africa.

PM‘s advisor slags off Lithuanian president‘s UN appearance

Raimundas Lopata, political scientist and advisor to the Lithuanian PM has slammed the foreign policy of President Dalia Grybauskaitė, saying in an interview published on Friday that her recent speech at the United Nations was« sterile». «The country‘s foreign policy is void of substantial steps, there are no attempts to build partner coalitions in pursuit of national interests,» Lopata said in the interview to the daily Lietuvos Rytas. He added that «Lithuania is no longer seen in international politics as an actor.»

Lithuanian and Finnish cooperation must be bolstered

Lithuania must strengthen cooperation with Finland, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania Linas Linkevičius said when meeting with Minister for Foreign Affairs of Finland Timo Soini. He was visiting Lithuania, to discuss bilateral political and economic relations, regional cooperation and key issues on European agenda, including migration, the security situation in the region, relationship with Russia, the situation in Ukraine, cooperation in the fields of energy and transport.

Committees of Baltic Assembly to mull GMO regulation in Baltic States

The Baltic Assembly‘s (BA) Economics, Energy and Innovations Committee and Natural Resources and Environment Committee convened on Friday, October 2, in Kaunas to discuss the influence of the Russian embargo and the regulation of genetically modified organisms (GMO) in the Baltic states. Lithuanian Deputy Minister of Agriculture Vilius Martusevičius delivered a report on the implementation of the BA‘s recommendations for agriculture.

Lithuanian parliament tightens instant credit loan issuance

The Seimas has approved amendments to the Law on Consumer Credit which are aimed at regulating the consumer credit market in order to promote responsibility of consumer credit lenders and their clients. Sixty-one MPs voted in support of the amendments, two voted against with six abstentions. However, parliament has to vote a second time to pass the amendments.

The changes will tighten consumer credit advertising regulations. Based on the proposal, it would be prohibited to advertise consumer credit during the events for people younger than 18 years of age or in the advertisements of such events. Information about the activities of consumer credit lender or consumer credit mediator and services proposed will have to be correct, clear and not misleading.

The so-called night credits would be prohibited striving to protect consumers, especially those who abuse concluding consumer credit agreements. As the annual percentage rate of charge for consumer credit was until now at a maximum of 200 percent, it raised doubts whether it meets fair business practice and if such an amount is always fair or is in line with consumer interests. It was proposed to regulate consumer credit prices by establishing a two-stage system. Consumer credit agreement would establish consumer credit interest of up to 75 percent.

Numbers of older people on the rise

Statistics Lithuania has published demographic data on the occasion of the Day of Older Persons. It shows that the number of older people is on the rise in the country. People aged 65 and older constituted 15.8 percent of the Lithuanian population in early 2005. Meanwhile by early 2015 the share has increased to 18.7 percent. This year, 547,100 Lithuanian residents were aged 65 and older. 149,100 or 27.3 percent of them were aged 80 and older. 368 people were older than 100 years of age. Moreover, women aged 65 and older accounted for 66.4 percent of all people of this age group. In addition, there were 2.7 times more women than men aged 80 and older. Based on employment study, 5.7 percent of people aged 65 and older were employed in 2014.

Construction of Vilnius railway bypass finished

A second line of Vilnius Railway Bypass has been constructed and will enable to divert freight trains from the city centre. Railway traffic will become safer as a result and hazardous material pollution risk will be reduced. Kyviškės-Valčiūnai Bypass Project worth over 50 million euro was implemented by Lithuania Railways. It will allow directing freight cargoes from the city. The European Union funded 85 percent of the project while Lithuanian Railways funded 15 percent. In addition to the aforementioned changes, two underground pedestrian crossings, a viaduct and a single-level pedestrian crossing were erected. More than 5 km of sound absorbing walls were built and 200 windows in residential buildings were replaced.

EU offsets Lithuanian haulage service losses in Russia

Exports of transport services to Russia is offset by providing more of these services to the European Union (EU) countries, show the results released by the Bank of Lithuania. According to the report, the most rising exports markets are to Austria, Denmark and France. While the exports of transport services to Russia have fallen by more than 40 percent in the first half of the year, the total volume of transport services‘ export fell by only 1.78 percent, according to the Minister of Transport and Communications, Rimantas Sinkevičius. In the assessment of Lithuania‘s export of transport services to the EU, the largest market is in Germany, with France and Denmark being in the second and third places respectively.

Sweden‘s royal couple to pay visit to Lithuania

At the invitation of Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė, Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden and his wife Queen Silvia will arrive on an official state visit to Lithuania on October 7-9. Along with the royal couple, Lithuania will be visited by Sweden‘s ministers of foreign affairs, enterprise and innovation, and defence and the Swedish business delegation of representatives of the country’s largest companies.

Lithuanians in Ireland celebrate anniversary of Lithuanian pilot‘s trans-Atlantic flight

Lithuanians flooded the small Irish town of Ballinrobe, in the west of the country, on September 25-27 for the traditional event «We Still Need Wings». The celebrations were meant to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the feat of a Lithuanian pilot who crossed the Atlantic in 1935.

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Week in Lithuania. Lithuania unveils new tourism brand

Lithuania will until 2020 use a new tourism brand to market itself to foreign tourists. The new brand, unveiled by the State Tourism Department on October 19, features the words «Lithuania. Real is beautiful» printed on a pastel mint postage stamp

Economic Diary of Latvia. The richer the people, the better the security

A very interesting matter was voiced in Latvia this week. The matter addresses the link between the overall level of welfare of the country’s residents and the country’s national security.

Four teachers in Latvia are paid wages that exceed EUR 2,000

In September 2016, the biggest teacher’s salary paid in Latvia with bonuses was EUR 2,260.27, as LETA was informed by Education and Science Ministry.

Producer price level down 1.6% in Latvia’s industry

Compared to August, the level of producer prices in Latvian industry increased by 0.3% in September 2016.

SRS Tax Debt Enforcement Office director Cerneckis steps down

On Friday, 21 October, director of Latvian State Revenue Service’s Tax Debt Enforcement Office Kaspars Cerneckis submitted his resignation.

Bookmakers predict Sadurskis’ remainder in his post for the rest of the year

Latvian Education Minister Karlis Sadurskis has been forced to distance himself from political opponents and teacher trade unions because of criticisms regarding reduced wages caused by the teachers’ pay reform. Nevertheless, political support will keep the minister in his post, bookmakers believe.

Lithuanian military discussing deployment of long-range missiles

A senior Lithuanian military officer has on October 20 stated that Lithuania is considering the deployment of long-range missiles in the country in the framework of hosting a multinational NATO battalion in 2017.

Ukraine in joint declaration with Lithuania, Poland condemns WWII aggressors

The Vekhovna Rada of Ukraine has this week adopted a joint declaration with Lithuania and Poland attaching responsibility for World War II to Germany, the USSR and the international community’s «appeasement policy».

Saeima Budget Committee conceptually approves 2017 budget project

On Thursday, 20 October, Saeima’s Budget and Finance Committee supported the state budget project for 2017, the medium-term budget contents for 2017, 2018 and 2019 and 57 legal drafts associated with the project.

Facebook sorry for removing breast cancer informative video

Facbook has expressed apologies for the removal of a breast cancer informative video shared on the social network by a Swedish foundation.

Two of the last twenty three first refugees have left Latvia

The last two of the first twenty three refugees resettled in Latvia have left for Germany, as reported by LTV.

Pregnant woman in Italy dies after doctor allegedly refused to perform abortion

Police in predominantly Catholic Italy is investigating a case of a woman pregnant with twins dying after miscarriage.

Russia applies discount on transit from Belarus

Russian Railways has applied a 25% discount on petrol, diesel fuel and crude cargo transports from oil processing plants in Belarus to Russia’s north-west ports. With that, Russia has basically provided Belarus with tariffs equal to tariffs in Baltics.

The first container train headed for Riga departs from China

On Thursday, 20 October, Latvian Transport Minister Uldis Augulis, representatives from LDz and YXE International Container Train, multiple Chinese officials and Latvia’s ambassador in China Maris Selga saw off the first test container train from China to Riga.

Customs officials intercept hashish shipment worth EUR 2 million

Latvian State Revenue Service’s Customs Police intercepted and confiscated a shipment of more than 200 kg of hashish worth EUR 2 million, as journalists were informed by SRS Customs Police Director Kaspars Podins on Thursday, 20 October.

SA: Riga Freeport has only realized one of five of our recommendations

Latvian State Audit follows the development of the largest investment projects especially carefully, because the state does not seem to handle them all that well. Krievu Island project is one of the largest investment projects, because there is European Union finances invested in it...

Job seekers in Lithuania want Western salaries, employers dumbstruck

Although Lithuanian labour market is in desperate for workforce, but those willing to toil will nod to a job offer only if the pay is really big. So big that the country‘s hirers feel like grabbing their heads upon hearing the candidates‘ salary expectations.

Overall government budget decreased in 2015

In 2015, the general government budget deficit amounted to EUR 309.0 million or 1.3% of the gross domestic product, whereas the general government consolidated gross debt amounted to EUR 8 846.3 million or 36.3% of the GDP.

SP: claims about Motorola’s murderer are an attempt to show Latvia as the enemy

Latvian Security Police views claims that Donetsk military commander Arseny Pavlov, aka Motorola, was allegedly killed by a hired killer from Latvia named Marks Ozolins is nothing more than yet another attempt at information war aimed to demonstrate Latvia and its citizens and enemies.

Estonian President Kaljulaid not to ask state to pay rent

Estonia’s new President Kersti Kaljulaid will not ask the state to pay rent for using her home unlike the former head of state Toomas Hendrik Ilves did.

Every third coin with Milda’s image has made its way to Europe

Every third euro coin with Milda’s image has found its way to Europe. The proportion of those coins in Latvia is 71% of all euro coins in circulation, according to monitoring data compiled by Citadele Bank’s CBL Cash Logistics service.

Estonia plans to increase female proportion in military

Estonia has announced plans to triple female involvement in the country’s Defence Forces and to expand the list of units accessible to woman soldiers by 2018.

Pre-paid mobile card users to be registered as part of a plan to reduce grey economy

At the meeting of state secretaries on 20 October, a proposal was presented from the transport ministry to begin registration of mobile pre-paid card users.

Next year’s budget plan and other decisions viewed by Saeima this week

On Thursday, 20 October, the Saeima will gather for an extraordinary meeting, during which deputies will discuss the next year’s budget plan and 57 associated legal drafts.

European Space Agency attempts to re-connect to its Mars probe

The European Space Agency has lost contact with its Mars probe on October 19 shortly prior to its planned landing on the planet.