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Sunday 22.01.2017 | Name days: Austris
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Week in Lithuania. Parliament endorses resolution rekindling hopes for ousted president Paksas

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Linas Jegelevičius for the BNN

The Lithuanian Parliament has approved the findings of the ad hoc commission tasked with probing the implementation of the European Court of Human Rights decision in the case of impeached former president Rolandas Paksas.

In its resolution, the Commission blamed the «insidious practices» of Lithuania’s Constitutional Court which had banned Paksas from ever running for elected office again. Paksas was impeached and removed from the presidency in 2004 for grave violations of the Constitution. The Constitutional Court later ruled that Paksas would not be allowed to hold any public office that required giving an oath. Paksas challenged the decision at the ECtHR, which ruled in 2011 that the life-long ban was excessive.

Kindergarten education becomes mandatory

The Lithuanian parliament has adopted an amendment to the Law on Education that has made kindergarten education compulsory in Lithuania. Fifty-nine parliamentarians voted for the amendment, 9 voted against it, and 27 abstained. With the newly adopted amendment, kindergarten will be compulsory for Lithuanian citizens living in Lithuania, as well as for foreigners that have a permanent or temporary residence permit in the Republic of Lithuania. Education up to 16 years of age is mandatory and guaranteed under Lithuania’s primary, kindergarten and basic education programs.

Lithuania to send up to 130 soldiers on international missions next year

Lithuania will send up to 130 soldiers to international missions in 2016-2017, the Lithuanian parliament decided. Compared with 2015, the maximum number of soldiers has been reduced from 265. Next year, Lithuania may send up to 40 soldiers for the operation in Mali (MINUSMA), led by the United Nations. Another 50 servicemen may be deployed to Afghanistan for the Resolute Support Mission. In 2016-2017, five soldiers may join NATO international contingent in Kosovo. Up to 30 soldiers and civilians will participate in the European Union’s (EU) mission Atalanta, aimed against piracy in the Indian Ocean. Up to five soldiers will be deployed with the EU operation Sophia, aimed against illegal migration in the Mediterranean Sea.

Kaunas launches a new Wizz Air route

Wizz Air has announced it will add operations from Kaunas to complement its low-cost Lithuanian flight services. From March 29, the airline will start operating a new service with five flights a week between Kaunas airport and London Luton. With an initial seat capacity of 93,000 seats, the new route is expected to stimulate the aviation and hospitality sectors in Lithuania. Since its first flight from Vilnius in 2011, Wizz Air has carried nearly three million Lithuania passengers, becoming the leading airline at Vilnius International Airport.

Lithuanian parliament finishes autumn session

The Lithuanian parliament, Seimas, completed its seventh ordinary autumn session. From September 10 through December 23 the Seimas held 48 sittings and adopted over 300 pieces of legislation. The main document adopted in the autumn session was the Law on the Approval of the Financial Indicators of the State Budget and Municipal Budgets for 2016. The State Social Insurance Fund Budget and the Compulsory Health Insurance Fund Budget were adopted together with the law. Each year, the Lithuanian Seimas convenes for two ordinary sessions in spring and autumn. The spring session lasts from March 10 to June 23, while the autumn session, from September 10 to December 23.

Lithuania’s biggest consumer credit company chief sacked

After the Bank of Lithuania revoked the licence of 4finance, the country’s leading consumer loan company, last week, it said it would contest the decision. Less than a week later, however, the company’s shareholders sacked its general manager Gediminas Velička. Kieran Donelly, the head of 4finance Group which owns the company, said in a press release on Wednesday that 4finance respected Lithuanian laws and was ready to cooperate with the country’s central bank.

Energy experts: do not abandon cogeneration plants

Energy experts have urged the Lithuanian government not to close down combined heat and power plants which they say could upset security of electricity supply. The Lithuanian committee of the World Energy Council wrote an open letter to the government, co-signed by over 50 energy professionals, scientists and politicians, urging to reconsider its decisions to scrap subsidies for combined heat and power plants in Vilnius, Kaunas and Panevėžys, which effectively means that the facilities will be closed down as of January 1, 2016. These power generation facilities are needed as a backup supply, the letter says.

Retirement pensions to be raised to 265 euro

Average retirement pensions is to be raised by 8.21 euro, to 265 euro, as of January next year, the Lithuanian government decided on Wednesday, December 23. The decision will affect about 857,000 people. The government is also raising poverty relief, maternity and paternity leave benefits and some other payments. Sodra, the national social insurance fund, has set aside extra 74.1 million euro for retirement pensions in its 2016 budget. The government budget envisages 11 million euro for the raise.

Lithuanian taxi app to offer Uber-like services

eTAKSI, a Lithuanian taxi hailing app, is planning to start offering Uber-like ride services to meet higher demand during the holiday season. The company said in a statement that it had started signing up drivers on December 22 and that the pilot project will complement eTAKSI’s traditional taxi services. The so-called ride sharing service pioneered by Uber uses GPS data to match clients and drivers who are not licensed taxi drivers. Uber launched its app in Vilnius in November.

Lithuania’s new prosecutor general appointed

Evaldas Pašilis, a judge from Ukmergė, has been appointed prosecutor general six months after his predecessor left the office. Pašilis said that the first thing he will do as prosecutor general is to familiarize himself with the structure, the people in the Prosecutor General’s Office. According to opinion polls, prosecutor’s offices are among the least trusted institutions. Pašilis says, however, that prosecutors should not be made to endure too much public pressure.

Lithuanian PM still undecided about running for president

Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevičius, leader of the Social Democratic Party and currently one of the most popular politicians in Lithuania, says he is not yet thinking about running for president in 2019. According to the prime minister, the presidential election that will take place in 2019, after the end of the second term of Dalia Grybauskaitė, are still quite far and many things can change. He said that the main thing is to maintain good relations among the prime minister, the president and the parliament speaker.

Coca-Cola acquires Lithuania’s Neptūnas

Coca-Cola is buying Lithuanian bottled water company Neptūno Vandenys. The deal has to be approved by the Competition Council. Gintas Petrulis, head of Neptūno Vandenys, has told Delfi.lt that the parties will not comment on the details of the deal until it is approved by the competition watchdog. He added that the Competition Council would give its decision within one to four months.

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