bnn.lv Latviski   bnn-news.com English   bnn-news.ru По-русски
Ceturtdiena 20.06.2019 | Name days: Rasa, Rasma, Maira
LithuaniaLithuania

Lithuania's next President set to take bull by horns in tackling poverty

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 president-elect Gitanas Nausėda has touched one issue – social exclusion and high level of income inequality in Lithuanian society – a lot more than all the others. But can Nausėda, economist by profession, blur the gaping gap between the rich and the poor? Can he find a common ground with the ruling coalition in tackling poverty?

BNN spoke to a number of Lithuanian analysts observing every move of the new state-of-head.

Employers’ representative praises president-elect’s approach

Speaking this past Wednesday, Nausėda once again accentuated risks stemming from poverty:

«The issue of social exclusion is becoming a matter of the state’s integrity or social peace. If we do nothing in this area, we will not only lose people to emigration but will also have a difficult social climate.»

Speaking to BNN, Danas Arlauskas, director of Lithuania’s Employer Confederation, noted that Nausėda’s emphasis of acute social problems, such as social exclusion and income inequality, is «very timely». «They pose extremely big challenges for us, employers. We see an ongoing marginalization of our society, when some can afford affluent lifestyles and the others live from hand to mouth. It breeds populism and destabilises the state’s life,» Arlauskas underscored. «What we have been proposing for many years is to remove the bureaucratic constraints crippling commencement of small businesses. Our public sector is ballooned and is often inefficient.»

Nausėda in contrast with his predecessor

Kęstutis Girnius, a Lithuanian political analyst of US descent, observed to BNN that Nausėda has already paid a lot of his attention to acute social issues. «He seems to genuinely understand that the issues, if unsolved, can result in big problems for the country and the society. Nausėda has already come forward with some concrete proposals as far as income inequality is concerned. He has said that progressive tax system needs to be improved and that raising the existing rates or introducing new ones is not enough. His rhetoric on the issues is in stark contrast with that of outgoing president Dalia Grybauskaite who has not just done very little in fighting poverty, but also spoke very little about them,» Girnius told BNN.

Addressing the government’s policies this week, Nausėda warned that the government’s plans to raise the non-taxable income rate fast can undermine the implementation of social policy goals, thence, the planned pace should be slowed. «It might happen so that we might need to choose whether to implement these measures that are planned on child benefits and other things, and perhaps when also considering the non-taxable income rate, not necessarily to halt but to slow the increase, or we just leave the tax reform situation the way it is and refrain from any more significant push in the social policy area,» the elected president said. Weighing in on outgoing president Dalia Grybauskaite’s State of the Nation Address delivered on Monday, June 10, Nausėda said he «missed attention» to social exclusion and education problems in the speech.

Ruling parties tend to please a new president

Asked if he believes that Nausėda can strike a common chord with the ruling party and the government on social issues, Girnius said that every incoming president is in a good position to start things from a blank page.

«Just because the ruling parties want to please the president-elect, they understand that they have to accept the will of the nation, therefore they, as a rule, are cooperative rather than disruptive with the new leader.

Importantly, the ruling LFGU did emphasise necessity to tackle social exclusion and poverty, so both Nausėda and the ruling parties are likely to find themselves being on the same page when addressing the issues. With the backing of Nausėda the ruling parties can surely do a whole lot more,» the analyst said.

According to Girnius, joining Nausėda in the fight against poverty could boost the ruling parties’ ratings ahead of Seimas election next year. «With just 16 months remaining till the election, the LFGU will certainly put more emphasis on its social agenda,» Girnius concluded.

Analyst misses concrete proposals

Vytautas Bruveris, an analyst and journalist of daily Lietuvos rytas, also notes that the president-elect does heed the country’s current socio-economic situation. «But I miss concrete proposals what specifically has to be done tackling poverty in the country. His rhetoric is more about stating the situation, rather than addressing it with concrete measures. But, again, it is too premature to expect a detailed plan (from him). He will definitely unveil more details in coping with social issues when he is inaugurated and introduces his team,» Bruveris told BNN.

Likewise Girnius, Bruveris expects that the ruling LFGU coalition, which is likely to be expanded in the weeks to come, will address the new president’s concerns in the government’s programme for year of 2020, envisioning more allocations for social issues. «I am optimistic that relations between Nausėda and the ruling party and the government will be better than the latter two had with Grybauskaite,» Bruveris emphasised.

Every president has substantial powers to fight poverty

Lauras Bielinis, professor of Kaunas Vytautas Magnus University, paid attention to the fact that the president-elect not only singled out a set of (social) issues from scratch of his presidency, but vowed to set up an expanded working group to address them. «This is very important. Every president has powers to do a lot in solving social issues, which now exacerbate in Lithuania. Moreover: the population sees president as one who cares most about ordinary people. Nausėda definitely understands that and will do all he can not to disappoint the people,» Bielinis told BNN.

To the question if Nausėda can work fruitfully with the current coalition, he replied that it seems that the president-elect is «ready» to work with it, but it the «whole situation” is pretty «shaky» with the ruling LFGU reeling off from the worse than expected performance in the municipal council, presidential and EP elections. In addition, the coalition expansion attempts did not produce tangible results yet. «Provided that the coalition stays after Nausėda inauguration, social issues will be on the new president’s table from day one. Especially that he wants to have an expanded qualified team dealing with them. The coalition will be impelled to work with the president’s office on the issues. Besides, tackling them ahead of the parliamentary elections is also in favour of the ruling parties’ interests too,» Bielinis noted.

Outgoing MEP: a clear picture will emerge after inauguration

Petras Auštrevičius, an outgoing Lithuanian MEP, also observes Nausėda’s striving to address acute social issues. «I am pretty sure he will be much more proactive in the regard than his predecessor, Grybauskaite. But we will see a clearer picture how he will do it when he assembles his team and outlines his policies after inauguration,» Auštrevičius said. He doubted if the president-elect and the ruling LFGU-led coalition will find a common ground on most of the issues.

«We might see some splurging of budgetary resources ahead of the parliamentary election – I mean the ruling bloc is likely to try to please the voters by raising the minimum wage and allowances, but Nausėda will have to push the brakes at some point,» he emphasised.

The ruling Farmers and Greens (LFGU) has committed this week to further raise child benefit payouts. The European Commission has recently named Lithuania among the EU member states with the highest income inequality in the bloc.


Leave a reply

Researchers: Eastern Latvian cities promote Russia’s influence in Latvia

Despite Latvia’s difficult relations with Russia, two major Latvian cities engage in initiatives adhering to the interests of the eastern neighbour, researchers of the Centre for East European Policy Studies have found in a new, revealing study.

Experts on Latvia’s compensations to Jewish community: Good idea poorly developed

The Latvian draft law on paying compensations to the Latvian Jewish community for the real estate confiscated by Nazi and Communist occupation powers embodies a good idea, yet the requested sum and articles of law lack clear substantiation, legal experts commented to BNN.

Hollywood filmmaking in Tallinn? Estonia considering EUR 5 million support

The Estonian government is reviewing a request from film director Christopher Nolan, renown for Hollywood thriller blockbusters, to support with five million euros a film currently shot in Tallinn. Estonian state movie budget for 2018 is two million euros.

Annual inflation in Latvia, Estonia among EU's highest

Data on the annual inflation rate in the European Union showed that price rise in Latvia was 3.5%, followed by Estonia with 3.1%, Eurostat reports.

Nausėda’s pick for doctor seen as éminence grise of Lithuanian health care

Lithuanian President-elect Gitanas Nausėda has chosen Remigijus Žaliūnas as his personal doctor. The pick is seen as controversial by LRT broadcaster over Žaliūnas’ contacts with both business heavyweights and policy makers.

Latvian Prime Minister not to bend to budget appetite of extra EUR 600 million

For the Latvian state budget of 2020, the ministries have submitted requests exceeding the spending plans by 600 million euros, said Latvian Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš to Rīta Panorāma TV programme. The PM also expressed determination not to raise taxes.

Availability of cancer diagnostics in Latvia worsening critically, surgeon warns

The availability of cancer diagnostics and chemotherapy in Latvia is worsening critically, warned the head of the Oncology Clinic of the Riga Eastern University Hospital, surgeon Armands Sīviņš.

Take two: Trump starts re-election campaign for U.S. President

U.S. President Donald Trump has officially opened his bid to be re-elected to the post in the 2020 election. The new campaign slogan is: «Keep America great». There are 39 other candidates competing in the race to White House.

Ban on anonymous comments suggested after Baltic Pride in Vilnius

To stem offensive comments on Lithuanian internet media, member of the Seimas Vytautas Kernagis has suggested banning such anonymous expression of opinion, yet European case law upholds the right of authorless speech online, LRT reports.

Plaster to education: Latvian teachers’ pay increased for 2019 alone

The Latvian government has approved the rise of the lowest pay rate of teachers, but funds for this purpose have been earmarked only for the second half of 2019.

Pay cut to major Latvian port board members approved by government

The salary of the board members of major Latvian ports has been cut by a quarter in a decision by the Latvian Cabinet of Ministers.

Nordea bank searched in Denmark over money laundering allegations

The Danish offices of the Scandinavian Nordea Bank have been searched by police as a probe in alleged money laundering is being conducted, Bloomberg reports.

Fire Service: Violations in new Ventspils music school prevented

In the newly-built Ventspils Musical High School and concert hall Latvija, which had problems with fire safety, the Latvian State and Fire Rescue Service has found in a repeated inspection that the violations have been fixed.

UN: 2.2 billion people globally still lack safe drinking water

A report by the United Nations Children’s Fund and the World Health Organisation has found in study that 1 in 3 people or 2.2 billion people around the world lack safely-managed drinking water, while 673 million people practice open defecation.

Key owner of pharmaceutical giant Olainfarm changes board member over distrust

In Olmafarm, the largest owner of the Latvian pharmaceutical giant Olainfarm, changes in the management board have taken place over no-confidence, according to a decision of the majority of the co-heirs of Olmafarm seen by LETA news agency.

Lithuanian experts: No way of stopping coming nuclear power plant of Belarus

Options that could stop the building of a nuclear power plant in Belarus have been exhausted, experts in neighbouring Lithuania have said to its public media.

Latvia pushing for joint stance of Baltic-Nordic MPs on security policy

Ahead of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organisation of Security and Cooperation in Europe, it is key for the legislators of the eight Baltic-Nordic states to have a common position on security policy, said MP Inese Ikstena, head of the Latvian delegation.

Latvian coalition undertakes to rise teacher salaries over reform

Recognising that education reforms in Latvia have been initiated, the ruling coalition has pledged to pass the decision to allocate funds to rising teacher salaries, as indicated by Latvian Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš. Kariņš stated that the coalition parties have established that «reforms envisaged by Minister of Education Ilga Šupilinska have been initiated».

Latvian Enterprise Register: Companies not revealing true beneficiaries to be wound up

Once changes to the Latvian Law on the Prevention of Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing are signed by State President, the Enterprise Register will be tasked with winding up legal entities not revealing their true beneficiaries.

Latvian PM: If Estonia breaks deal on alcohol excise, we’re forced to respond

If Estonia has broken a deal with Latvia on alcohol excise tax, then Latvia is left to no choice, but to respond with a corresponding cut in excise, said Latvian Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš.

Never too late to marry – elderly marriages jump in Latvia

Over the year 2018 in Latvia, the total number of marriages fell by 0.7 %, the number of marriages concluded by elderly population grew 1.7 times, data from the Central Statistical Bureau of Latvia showed.

Eesti Energia suggests introducing customs tax to cheap Russian power

Estonian state energy firm Eesti Energia has proposed introducing a customs tax to electricity imported by Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania from Russia.

Social care centre in Latvia blamed for severe human rights violations

Latvian Ombudsman’s Office has found severe human rights violations in the social care centre Ezerkrasti and accused the institution of not complying with recommendations to it. Ezerkrasti is a branch of the state social care centre Riga, located outside the Latvian capital.

Unmarried couples’ law to be proposed in Latvia

In the Latvian Saeima, this week, a draft Law on Unmarried couples would be proposed by the party alliance Attīstībai/Par!.

Glass fibre maker Valmieras stikla šķiedra files for legal protection

Latvia-based glass fibre maker AS Valmieras stikla šķiedra has on Monday, June 17, announced filing for the start of legal protection proceedings aimed at ensuring sustainable continuation of group level operations.