bnn.lv Latviski   bnn-news.com English   bnn-news.ru По-русски
Monday 24.09.2018 | Name days: Agris, Agrita
LithuaniaLithuania

Lithuania’s 2018 budget focuses on spending cuts, NATO commitment and social security

FaceBook
Twitter
Draugiem
print
(No Ratings Yet)

Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RU

Linas Jegelevičius for the BNN

Lithuania’s 2018 budget, approved this week by the Seimas, Lithuanian Parliament, makes history for being the first budget ever with fewer spending for the governmental sector, the commitment to NATO of earmarking 2 per cent of the gross domestic product to defence and bigger allotments for social security. The budget was adopted by 84 MPs, 29 voted against, with 15 abstentions.

Those who voted in favour of the budget included four Order and Justice MPs, three Liberal Movement MPs, all eight MPs of the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania–Christian Families Alliance, and two non-attached members of the Seimas.

The opposition Homeland Union-Lithuanian Christian Democrats (TS-LKD) blasted the budget, claiming that the next year’s revenue-spending plan was not focused on the future.

Gabrielius Landsbergis, the TS-LKD leader, said he was «quite surprised» to see part of the opposition parliamentarians vote in favour of the budget.

He speculated that the ruling Farmers and Greens and some opposition lawmakers may have colluded.

«I am really surprised that although the demands of the opposition fractions have not been met and considering that the budget balances on the brink of lies and fake promises, some of the opposition lawmakers voted for it. I wonder what happened?” Landsbergis asked rhetorically before adding, «Who can deny that the Government has bought their votes promising support for the projects in the regions from which the parliamentarians are from?»

Landsbergis lambasted the budget, claiming that no change will come to the ordinary man with its approval.

Although 2018 state budget is projected to feature a deficit, yet the budgets of the social security and health along with the municipal budgets should be a surplus.

The surplus of the public finances should stand at 0.6 per cent of the GDP, 0.5 percentage points above this year’s level (0.1 per cent of the GDP). If the targets are met, Lithuania’s public finances would be in surplus for three consecutive years.

Commenting, Finance Minister Vilius Šapoka said that the main focus of the next year’s budget will be on reduction of poverty, tackling social exclusion (for the purpose, 600 million euros was granted more than in 2017), giving a boost to the country’s safety, promoting health care and entrepreneurship and investments in the country.

In 2018, Lithuania expects to scoop up 9.071 billion euros in state revenues (including 2.304 billion euros in support from the European Union and other international aid), while spending should total 9.558 billion euros.

The voting on Lithuania’s 2018 state budget showed that there should be enough political support in the Seimas for other reforms, too, Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis underlined after the vote.

«I thought there would be slightly fewer (votes). This shows we can move forward with the necessary reforms, and it’s quite clear that we can reach agreement and obtain support from those political forces that do want progress in the country and vote for progress and for solutions to old problems,» PM said.

Skvernelis added that at the end of the year he would be able to name the government’s key projects that would require a majority of votes in the parliament.

Weighing in on 2018 budget, President Dalia Grybauskaitė underscored through her adviser that the new budget is more socially sensitive and responsible.

«We see that this budget is indeed more socially sensitive and responsible, reflecting our priorities for the next year. When it comes to the share of public resources intended for the social sector, we had a major gap from the European average. In 2018, Lithuania’s share should be around 13 percent, while the average in Europe is 18-19 percent. The gap remains but we are drawing closer,» Mindaugas Linge, the adviser, told Žinių Radijas news radio.

«Additional injections, additional 600 million euros have been envisaged, and this should contribute to settling social exclusion issues by at least keeping the gap from widening, however, this probably won’t solve the deep-rooted problems,» said the presidential adviser.

Yet President seems to be not quite happy with the performance of the Lithuanian Farmers and Greens-orchestrated Government during its first year in power.

«Over the first year in office of Lithuania’s new government, there were no targeted solutions, with reforms replaced by insignificant decisions,» President Dalia Grybauskaitė told daily Lietuvos Žinios.

«People pinned hopes of major changes and a batter life with the new ruling majority, giving the coalition an immense credit of confidence. However, the first year in office of the Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union is marked by uncertainty, fading expectations and scattered confidence. The time has come to keep the promises, however, the political agenda, which has been locked in vegetative phase for a long time, does not include any targeted solutions even a year later. Reforms are placed by insignificant decisions in connection to buildings, jobs, working hours and homework for school students,» said the president.

In her words, «major management mistakes (are emerging) where institutional memory is destroyed without creating anything new.»

«Many fields are headed by acting leaders, and the areas start to look like construction sites with visions and good intentions only, however, without a clear determination on what, why and how it will be constructed,» Grybauskaitė underlined.

The president also said she saw inconsistency in values when the ruling majority, which has declared a war on corruption, lacked the will to deter corruption gaps in internal deals of municipalities and take a principled stance on the actions done, for example, by Artūras Skardžius, a MP who allegedly breached law on separation of personal and public interests.

Responding to criticism from Grybauskaitė, PM Skvernelis shot back that «all the projected reforms are being implemented» and will be up for assessment in three years, after the work is complete.

« We can have different views on how this should be done but saying that nothing is happening… It seems to me that there is a phrase to describe this: a person who does nothing is never wrong. And there is one person in our country who never makes a mistake,» PM emphasised referring to the President.

He added that all of the reforms that have been planned and stipulated in the government’s program were being implemented, dismissing the accusations of destroying something that should have been left untouched.


Leave a reply

  1. mort says:

    @king
    I renew my request for you to stop spamming advertisements.

Week in Lithuania. President proposes amendments to restrict bailiffs' remuneration

Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė is putting forward amendments aimed at restricting bailiffs' financial remuneration to up to 15 per cent of the amount recovered.

BNN summary of the week: pre-election heat, rule of law in Latvia, Baltics prepare for Pope’s visit

BNN offers a summary of this week’s topical news in a variety of categories: Elections; Change; Stagnation; Fight; Visit; Investigation.

Court reschedules viewing of criminal case due to Non-citizens Congress leader’s poor health

Riga City Vidzeme Suburb Court announced today that the viewing of the criminal case in which leader of Non-citizens Congress Aleksandrs Gapoņenko is accused of inciting national hate will be postponed to a later date.

Producer prices in industry up 1.0% in Latvia in August

Compared to July, level of producer prices in the Latvian industry rose by 1.0 % in August 2018. Level of prices of products sold on the domestic market grew by 1.9 %, but of exported products – went up by 0.1 %.

Bishop: priest suspected of sexual abuse to be operated on in hospital

Pāvels Zeiļa, who is a priest of Rezekne Aglona diocese and the suspect in the criminal case regarding sexual violence and human trafficking, will undergo a complicated surgery on Friday, 21 September, as reported by Bishop Jānis Bulis.

Study: residents withdraw money from ATMs less often but in larger amounts

Every now and then discussions about dropping cash money altogether become active in society, AS PrivatBank representatives say.

HND Grupa design company, involved in Zolitude tragery, declared insolvent

Building engineer Ivars Sergets company HND Grupa, which was involved in the case revolving around the Maxima supermarket that collapsed in Zolitude, killing 54, not five years ago, has been declared insolvent, as reported by Latvijas Avīze.

Deputy Chief of State Fire and Rescue Service suspected of misappropriation

Latvia’s Interior Affairs Ministry’s Internal Security Bureau has detained deputy chief of State Fire and Rescue Service Ints Sēlis and one other official – a senior inspector, as reported by Panorāma programme of LTV.

Washington sanctions China for buying Russian military equipment

U.S. government has introduces sanctions against the Chinese army over a purchase of fighter jets and missile systems from Russia, despite a U.S. sanctions law targeting Moscow for attempts to sway in the 2016 U.S. election.

Autumn expected to begin soon in Latvia

Friday, 21 September, is expected to be warm in Latvia. Sun and considerable amount of clouds are expected, but not precipitation. Wind will draw in from the south, reaching a speed of 15-17 m/sec in western and central regions, as reported by Latvia’s Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

Brexit: a finish line with no end in sight

Less than 200 days are left before Britain officially leaves the European Union. The state of the agreement between Britain and EU only serves to create more chaos, from which neither Britain nor EU, or even Latvia will benefit.

EU underlines to London: No-deal Brexit also option

European Union's top officials and member state leaders planned to push for a Brexit deal in October, while urging London to give ground on the issues trade and the Irish border by November, to avoid a no-deal Brexit.

Lithuanian PM, a presumable presidential hopeful, set to curb grocery price growth

Having chastised food retailers on many occasions for high grocery prices, Saulius Skvernelis, the Lithuanian Prime Minister, stepped forward in the bid to harness local supermarkets. The presumed presidential candidate of the ruling Farmers and Greens (LVŽS) has summoned this week executives of major retail food chains, scolded them and reaffirmed his pledge to rein in the edging up prices.

Industrial prices in Estonia – up by 3.4% on year

The industrial price index in Estonia has risen from August 2017 to August this year by 3.4%, official statistics show.

Latvian parliament approves transition to competence-based approach in education content

On Thursday, 20 September, Latvia’s Saeima approved in the final reading amendments to the Education Law, necessary for the gradual introduction of competence-based approach in education materials.

Latvian Saeima wants to disallow shareholders to work in company management board

On Thursday, 20 September, Saeima approved in the first reading amendments to the Credit Institutions Law that provide for multiple measures to enhance Latvia’s finance system and its long-term stability, as reported by the parliament’s press-service.

Aglone Council prohibits residents from organizing protests during Pope Francis’ visit

A protest against the Catholic Church’s ban on abortions and expression of shock in relation to the recent sex scandals involving Catholic priests was planned to take place in Aglone during Pope Francis’ visit, but the city council decided to disallow them.

Latvian parliament conceptual supports pension bonus indexation

On Thursday, 20 September, Saeima supported in the first reading several initiatives for a more rapid pension climb for several groups of pensioners, as reported by Saeima press-service.

Majority Saeima deputies support open president vote; UGF members fail to decide unanimously

On Thursday, 20 September, amendments to the Constitution regarding open election of the state president were approved in the second reading.

Four Estonian parties have strong support, enough to enter Riigikogu

Four Estonian parties are believed to currently have enough support to enter the Estonian parliament, a broad opinion poll showed, as leading parties compete for voter backing.

Vitol Group concerned over state of rule of law in Latvia; turns to state officials

One of the largest energy resource traders in the world – Vitol Group – has sent a letter to Latvia’s highest ranking officials, expressing deep concern over the rule of law and application of legislative acts in the litigation between LatRosTrans and Polocktransneft Druzba over the EUR 66 million worth technological oil.

As Pope heads to Baltics, more attention to Catholic sex abuse

The time, when Roman Catholic Pope Francis is set to visit the Baltics, greatly differs from the visit by Saint John Paul II in 1993. There is public resentment over the countries spending several million euros to host the trip of the pontiff and the Catholic sex abuse scandals are topic of discussion.

Officials asked to take responsibility for misuse of state resources

If misuse of state resources takes place, officials have to take responsibility and pay for the damages caused to the state, says Public Expenditure and Audit Committee chairman Andris Bērziņš.

May asks EU not to divide Britain, while Brussels waits for UK change of position

At a European Union summit in Austria, UK's Prime Minister Theresa May called on EU leaders leave behind "unacceptable" Brexit demands that according to her may rip Britain apart.

Saeima decides to divide EUR 8.3 million of healthcare budget funds to finance reforms

Saeima’s Budget and Finance Committee has supported the initiative to divide EUR 8.277 million from the planned chronic patient care funding to further finance reforms in the country’s healthcare system.

Newest comments