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Saturday 25.01.2020 | Name days: Sigurds, Zigurds
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Lithuania’s political and economic diary. Lithuanian beef, chicken and pork pushes way into U.S.

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RULithuania might soon be given the green light to export meat products to the United States, Lithuanian Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevičius has been informed during his visit to the U.S.

The Lithuanian government issued statement on Thursday, October 9, that this was what the prime minister was told during a recent meeting with U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Thomas Vilsack:  the Food Safety and Inspection Service has drawn up the final draft equivalence verification audit report stating that the state meat quality control system in Lithuania meets all requirements and is equivalent to the exiting quality system in the United States.

The Lithuanian PM was also informed about the U.S. administration’s further procedures necessary for Lithuania to be included into the U.S. Federal Register of countries allowed to export meat products to the United States.

«Lithuania is very interested in developing trade ties with the United States in the area of meat products. U.S. institutions’ decision to recognize Lithuania’s control system for meat products as being equivalent to the U.S. control system is very important politically and economically, especially under the existing geopolitical conditions,» the Lithuanian Prime Minister said.

Lithuania considers introducing tax on cars in spring

In a major shift, the current ruling majority in the Lithuanian Seimas came back to the idea of introducing a car tax.

The tax could reportedly be introduced as early as next spring, after the municipal elections on March 1.

Bronius Bradauskas, the Chairman of the parliamentary Budget and Finance Committee, admitted that he had heard talks about the car tax. He also admitted that the Finance Ministry had also considered the new levy. He claimed, however, that the tax would not be introduced any time soon.

Minimum pay rise

Lithuanian parliament Chairwoman Loreta Graužinienė ponders that next July the minimum monthly salary could rise by LTL 100 (EUR 29).

According to the Seimas speaker, it is crucial to reduce social exclusion and one of the measures in this aspect is the growth of minimum monthly pay or non-taxable minimum income.

She hopes that these provisions will find a place in the 2015 state budget.

As reported, member of the Order and Justice Party Petras Gražulis has proposed to peg minimum wages to average salary, so that the former rises automatically to equal 50% of average salary recorded over the previous year. If the law is passed, minimum monthly salary would rise to LTL 1,150 (EUR 333).

Meanwhile Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevičius has said that minimum monthly salary could be raised after the municipal and mayoral elections next spring.

Minimum pay was last raised as recently as 1 October, from LTL 1,000 (EUR 290) to LTL 1,035 (EUR 300) per month.

Russia defies calls from Brussels to release Lithuanian fishing vessel

The European Commission, which is helping Lithuania to sort out the circumstances of the detention of a Lithuanian fishing vessel by Russian officials, has not received any response from Moscow to its inquiries, Lithuanian Agriculture Minister Virginija Baltraitienė told.

She said she has been notified of the fact by Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Commissioner Maria Damanaki on Wednesday, October 8.

«She sent a letter, saying that the European Commission had again turned to Russia with a repeated request for information. We have asked the European Commission twice and received an answer yesterday that they are making inquiries and asking Russia to provide information as to the coordinates (at the time of the detention of the vessel). However, Russia has not responded to the letters from the European Commission, » the minister told BNS, a Lithuanian news agency, on Thursday.

In her words, the issue of the arrested ship will be again raised during the European Union’s Agriculture and Fisheries Council in Luxembourg next week.

Immediately after the incident, the Lithuanian ministry turned to the North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC) for help to protect Lithuania’s interests in the release of the ship.

Earlier this week, a Russian court set a bail for the release of the Lithuanian fishing vessel at over EUR 3million. Representatives of the shipowner, Arctic Fishing, maintain the motion is inadequate and decided to appeal against the decision and request a lower bail.

Lithuania’s new energy minister uncertain over a new NPP construction

Lithuanian Energy Minister Rokas Masiulis has yet to make up his mind whether Lithuania needs a new nuclear power plant (NPP) in Visaginas. According to him, Lithuania is stepping up its position regarding energy security, thus there is no need to rush with the decision.

«Considerable work has been done on the project – there is a cross-party agreement that once the project is improved, further steps may be taken. We are working on this, » the minister told Lithuanian radio on Thursday, October 9.

He argued that Lithuania now is standing strong on its feet.

«With the Liquefied Natural Gas terminal we are at least sure that we will not be cut off from gas. We will have gas and, consequently, electricity. At the moment, generating electricity with gas would be more expensive, therefore, we will import a substantial amount. However, at least we are prepared and the situation similar to the one in Ukraine cannot happen here. From now on we must act wisely and see which option is best for us and which is the least expensive,» the Minister said.

Masiulis acknowledged that deliberations over the nuclear power plant have gone on excessively long.

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