bnn.lv Latviski   bnn-news.com English   bnn-news.ru По-русски
Ceturtdiena 17.10.2019 | Name days: Karīna, Gaits
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

Probing infections in Latvia, salmonella found in meat from Poland

As infection outbreaks in Latvia are under investigation, laboratory tests showed salmonella bacteria in Polish-origin poultry samples taken from SIA Gaļsaimnieks.

Germany to allow Huawei equipment on 5G networks

The Chinese tech giant Huawei will not be banned from the 5G mobile networks in Germany as Berlin stated it wants to create «a level playing field» for vendors.

OECD: Bribery prevention results in Latvia disproportionate to cross-border risks

Latvia’s results in fighting bribery are still disproportionate with the risks of cross-border bribery and money laundering the country is subjected to, says the Working Group on Bribery of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

In pictures: Ukrainian President Zelenskiy in Latvia

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and the Ukrainian first lady made an official visit to Latvia on Wednesday, October 16.

airBaltic not planning to cancel flights with Airbus A220

airBaltic does not plan to reduce its flights with the Airbus A220-300 plane, after Swiss International Air Lines decided to do this being concerned over the aircraft’s engine problems, according to a statement of the Latvian airline on social media.

PM Kariņš recommends spending confiscated EUR 29 mln as single investment

Latvian Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš has recommended the 29 million euros confiscated by the Riga Regional Court for being criminally-acquired to be spent on a one-off investment, according to an interview to LNT programme 900 sekundes.

Latvian security service develops terrorism financing prevention strategy

The Latvian State Security Service (VDD) has prepared its Strategy for the Prevention of Terrorism Financing 2019-2021 with its goal being improvements of the system of preventing such financing, developing Latvia’s abilities to fight such illegal attempts and to improve the country’s reputation in foreign financial markets.

Estonian President sends invitation to Russian President

Estonian head of state Kersti Kaljulaid has invited her Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to visit the Baltic country during a gathering of Finno-Ugric peoples in 2020.

Riga transport company needs additional 2.9 million euros

Rīgas satiksme, the transport company of the Latvian capital, will request from the municipal budget an additional allocation of 2.9 million euros, said Rīgas satiksme’s council chairman in an interview with Latvijas radio.

Government decides: Latvia will have 39 municipalities

The Latvian government has backed the draft Law on Administrative Territories and Populated Places that sets forth cutting the number of municipalities in Latvia from 119 to 39.

Rail Baltica: In rebuilding of Riga Central Station deadlines and quality are key

In Rail Baltica, the new railway project, the rebuilding of the Riga Central Station is planned, where meeting deadlines and quality are key, said the head of Eiropas dzelzceļa līnijas, the company responsible for the project in Latvia, commenting on how the project could be affected by involved builders ReRe grupa being under the scrutiny of the Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau and the Competition Council.

Deal or extension? Last day of Brexit talks on before decisive EU summit

The Brexit delegations from London and Brussels are on Wednesday, October 16, spending their last day of talks before a key European Union summit intended either to discuss a potential deal or to decide on an extension of the Brexit process.

Exclusive | Latvian MP: Top justice figures, Bičkovičs and Kalnmeiers, working like this in private sector, would be sacked long ago

The Moneyval report has told us not only that Latvia is unable to deal with financial crimes, but also that long court cases are under scrutiny. It is about the scale of money laundering – branding us a major power of money laundering. The expert committee also has questions: where are the guilty ones and where are the sentencing rulings? «The same Lembergs’ case; believe me, Moneyval is observing carefully, how it’s going forward,» MP Gatis Eglītis (NCP), the head of the Financial Sector Supervision Committee of Saeima Budget and Finance (Taxation), said in an interview with the BNN.

Latvian medical workers to hold unprecedented protests against funding cuts

Latvian Trade Union of Health and Social Care Workers has decided to hold protests it calls unprecedented against state budget plans that would result in reduced funding for health care, according to the LVSADA Council.

History repeating: Lemberg’s-linked medium recalls false news about Meroni

Once again, a medium linked to the criminally-accused Latvian politician Aivars Lembergs has been forced to admit its lies and to recall its unfounded claims directed at lawyer Rudolf Meroni. This time the recall has been published by Neatkarīgā Rīta Avīze daily.

Unity: Riga City Council tries to retain structure of Riga.lv despite liquidation

In the Riga City Council, opposition Unity faction fears a near-million increase of the municipality’s Public Relations Division could be coming in city budget effectively to transfer the structure of Riga.lv, the foundation up for liquidation.

Latvian minister: System wants its people as Prosecutor General, top court chairman

«There is information that the system prepares its heirs and wishes to appoint people close to it,» discussing reforms in the Latvian justice system, including the changing of the chairman of the Supreme Court and the Prosecutor General, has said the Latvian Justice Minister speaking to Latvijas Televīzija programme Rīta Panorāma.

Latvian coalition reaches deal to support changed administrative reform

Latvian government parties have agreed to support the country’s major administrative and territorial reform expanding the initial plan of cutting the number of municipalities in Latvia from 119 to 36.

Spain’s conviction of Catalan separatists sparks mass protests and clashes

The imprisonment of Catalan politicians and activists has sparked mass protests in the Spanish autonomous region leading to violent clashes with police and disruption of civil aviation. A total of 108 flights were cancelled on Monday

U.S. imposes sanctions on Turkey over incursion in Syria

U.S. President Donald Trump has stated he has issued an executive order to impose sanctions on Turkey’s officials and customs tariffs on steel imports from the country, which is continuing its military attack on Syria.

On safe side: Estonian tech minister changes Huawei to iPhone

Estonian Foreign Trade and Information Technology Minister, Kert Kingo, has changed her Huawei smartphone after criticism about alleged security issues with the device of the Chinese brand.

Ukraine's Zelensky to visit Latvia this week

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy will make a state visit to Latvia this week, the Chancery of the Latvian President informed.

Orbán’s party defeated in Budapest election

In the Hungarian municipal election, a rare win has been reached by opposition parties as they joined forces and overcame Budapest mayor István Tarlós from the ruling Fidesz party, led by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.

Latvian city trio could retain special status after reform, minister says

As the massive Latvian administrative reform is to be discussed in government, its advocate, the Regional Development Minister, has suggested Liepāja, Rēzekne and Daugavpils could retain their special status thus increasing the number of prospective municipalities to 39.

Latvian budget to receive 20 million euros ruled to be criminally acquired

The Riga Regional Court has ruled that arrested 29 million euros have been acquired illegally and that they have to be transferred from a bank to the Latvian state budget, announced the Latvian Office of the Prosecutor General.