bnn.lv Latviski   bnn-news.com English   bnn-news.ru По-русски
Monday 25.03.2019 | Name days: Māra, Marita, Mārīte
LithuaniaLithuania

President vetoes two bills over consecutive days, still enjoys high support

FaceBook
Twitter
Draugiem
print
(No Ratings Yet)

Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RULinas Jegelevičius for BNN

Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė has used her presidential powers in full swing this week, vetoing two bills over two consecutive days. First the head-of-state vetoed amendments paving the way for a far-reaching overhauling of the country‘s healthcare facilities. And the next day, on Wednesday, July 11, she scrapped amendments to the Referendum Law, which, if implemented, would have lowered the threshold for a dual citizenship referendum. President cautioned that the bill was potentially not in compliance with the Constitution.

Although some speculated that President with the vetoes retaliated the ruling Farmers and Greens Party leaders for their criticism following the revelation of the private conversations between Eligijus Masiulis, former Liberals’ leader charged of political corruption, and Grybauskaitė, Vytautas Dumbliauskas, a Lithuanian political analyst, is firmly convinced that this is not the case.

«Both bills were very controversial, especially was so the overhauling of the health system, so what Grybauskaitė did was very logic and deserves praise,» he told BNN.

The Seimas has been introduced the healthcare system overhaul last spring and it has sparked a big backlash both from medics and patients.

According to the plan, drawn up by the Lithuanian Ministry of Health, the rural hospitals would have provided only essential care and nursing, with the focus being on out-patient care, if the reform had been implemented.

«The regions are losing part of their population, the rest of the population is older, thence these services need to be somewhat different…If we agree to provide different medical services in each of the municipalities, the quality of medical services would improve and the medics‘ salaries would go higher,» Veryga defended his plan in spring.

The minister believed that optimising the network of medical institutions in the country would not push small hospitals out of business.

However, many Lithuanian mayors and heads of hospitals disagreed and bristled against the planned reform, lobbying to avert or derail it.

«Currently, about 80 per cent of the population of the district receives urgent necessary assistance in the hospital admissions section. It would be inconvenience for people because, with the reform completed, they would be transported several kilometre to the hospitals,» Algirdas Miklyčius, director of Varėnos Hospital, told BNN in March.

«We optimised the network, the number of beds, the staff and work on the plus… The policy of paying for services could be more rational and also support areas where the secondary level of health care is relevant. This will solve the problems,» echoed mayor of Varėna, Algis Kašeta.

If the hospital reorganisation plan had been greenlit, hospitals in such small municipalities like Lazdijai, Druskininkai and Varėna, would have been added as divisions to the Alytus County Vincas Kudirka Hospital, a major medical hub in southern Lithuania.

The Health minister did not conceal that that amendments were drawn up and are pursued in order to allow the ministry to become co-founder of the hospitals.

The amendments would have authorised the health minister to decide on a network of health facilities that would have been given priority in signing agreements with Territorial Health Insurance Funds for the costs of health services to be covered by compulsory health insurance.

«Since municipalities are the only founder of municipalities, we are in such a situation that the ministry does not have any tools to form the network. Our desire is to become one of the founders and participate in the process,» the minister argued for his hospital reform plan.

Grybauskaitė, however, cited incompatibility of the draft amendments with the Constitution and pointed out to certain procedural violations made by the Seimas as the reasons for returning the package back to the legislature.

Rasa Svetikaitė, advisor to the president, emphasised that it is necessary to establish by law qualitative criteria that healthcare providers would have to meet to be eligible for funding from the Compulsory Health Insurance Fund.

«I want to underline that the president supports the reform of healthcare facilities which is necessary, because the current network of hospitals is inefficient, expensive and fails to ensure top-quality services. However, constitutional principles can’t be compromised, not even for the purpose of achieving the best goals,» the advisor said on Tuesday.

The President’s office says that the laws could be amended without postponing the launch of the reform, now planned for January 2019.

Refusing to ink the dual citizenship amendments, Grybauskaitė underlined however that although she’s in favour of granting dual citizenship to a larger number of people but feared that the Seimas’ chosen way ran counter the Constitution.

In late June, the Seimas of Lithuania adopted the amendments to Article 7 of the Referendum Law, thus lowering the threshold for the referendum on amending Article 12 of the Constitution, which is connected to citizenship.

The Referendum Law changes were thought to create a situation of a «winnable referendum» on dual citizenship. Lithuania’s officials said that it could be held in tandem with next year’s presidential election next year.

The leaders of Lithuanian expats praised the decision, calling it a possible breakthrough in the long quest to adopt dual citizenship through plebiscite, however the opposition politicians expressed their disapproval.

«In light of the emerging political consensus to solve the citizenship question with a referendum, the decision by Seimas to equate citizenship regulation to other human rights protected by the Lithuanian Constitution is sensible and reasonable. By passing the amendment of the Referendum Law, Seimas has used its constitutional right to pass laws and showed the responsibility to tackle the decades long citizenship problem with a winnable referendum,» Rimvydas Baltaduonis, Chairman of the Joint World Lithuanian Community and Parliamentary Commission and Doctor of Social Sciences, Associate Professor in the Economics Department, Gettysburg College (Pennsylvania, USA), told BNN last week.

However, Gabrielius Landsbergis, chairman of  Lithuania‘s opposition Conservatives (Lithuania’s Homeland Union- Lithuanian Christian Democrats, TS-LKD), argued disagreeing that Lithuania was poised to apply the new law letter not only to law on dual citizenship, but others too.

The Seimas Chancellery‘s Law Department also warned against the drawbacks of the amendments.

«The reducing of the legislative safeguards of the Constitution‘s Chapter 1 is rather dangerous,» said Ona Buišienė, a representative of the Department.

Ramūnas Karbauskis, the LVŽS leader, has promised that the parliament will turn to the Constitution Court on the constitutionality of the adopted amendments as early as the start of the Seimas’ new session in the fall.

However, the President did not wait so long, discarding the bill and warning that the parliament’s proposal to specifically lower the threshold for a citizenship referendum from 1.25 million to 840,000 votes raised constitutional doubts and thus was very risky.

The Constitutional Court has ruled that dual citizenship cannot be a common phenomenon and granting it to people who left Lithuania after it restored independence would run counter to the Constitution.

Although  Karbauskis expressed dissatisfaction over the presidential vetoes, Grybauskaitė still enjoys high ratings of approval in the Office.

According to an opinion poll released by the Delfi.lt news website on Tuesday, on a 10-point scale where 10 is the best score, Grybauskaitė was given 7.94 for her overall performance as president. Her term is up next year.


Leave a reply

Week in Lithuania. MPs vote to give hope of release to life prisoners

The Lithuanian parliament adopted on Thursday, March 21, a package of amendments offering a hope of release to prisoners serving life sentences. The Seimas passed the package with 87 votes in favour and none against.

BNN summary of the week: Britain in tight spot; citizenship for all and Latvia's poor progress

BNN offers a summary of this week’s topical news in a variety of categories: Change; Progress; Rejection; Conflict; Idea; Opinion; Delay.

Crumbling buildings and the future of Riga’s slums

There are many empty buildings in Riga at the moment. However, Riga’s slums have a way to be reborn. One option is Rail Baltica, which could potentially change the situation with jobs in the city centre. Developers might have many complicated objectives ahead of them, considering that more and more people may decide to relocate to Riga’s central districts, said Riga city’s chief architect Gvido Princis in a conversation with BNN about Riga’s slums.

EC Vice-President: like other countries, Latvia has limited progress with EC recommendations

Latvia has limited progress when it comes to implementation of recommendations from the European Commission. Nevertheless, Latvia does not fall from the general EU context, when most member states have a small or limited progress with recommendations, said EC Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis during a joint meeting with Latvian Saeima’s committees.

Comparing abortions to killing affects Estonian government talks

After figures of the Estonian Conservative People's Party compared abortion to killing of people, the party's partners in coalition talks have voiced criticism.

Latvian Olainfarm minority shareholders urged to attend shareholder meeting

Co-owners of Valerijs Maligins inheritance Nika Saveļjeva and Signe Baldere-Sildedze, as well as Annas Emīlija Maligina’s mother invite Latvian pharmaceutical company Olainfarm minority shareholders to attend an extraordinary shareholders meeting and actively propose their candidates for the council.

Social workers’ wages in Latvia to grow by average of EUR 145 a month

Latvian government has decided to allocate an additional amount of EUR 4.8 million to increase wages for state social care centres starting from 1 April 2019. This will allow increasing their wages by an average of EUR 145 a month. This is provided by the 2019 state budget that has been approved by the Latvian parliament in the first reading, as confirmed by Welfare Ministry.

Germany pushes for funding cuts to EU members violating core values

Germany's federal Foreign Minister believes the European Union should start reducing its solidary funding and introduce sanctions on member states that adopt legislation contrary to European values, for example, free press, rule of law and independent courts.

Association reports Latvia suffers the most from emerging HIV cases

In 2018, 326 new HIV infection cases were registered in Latvia, according to information from Disease Prevention and Control Centre. Inga Upmace, chairperson of Baltic HIV Association, says that even though this is less when compared to 2017, Latvia remains an unfortunate leader among Baltic States for emerging HIV infection cases.

Poll: 40% Britons have felt powerless or angry over Brexit

About 40 percent of the adult population of the United Kingdom have been feeling powerless, angry or worried by Brexit in the past 12 months, a mental health poll showed.

Riga City Council wants a large loan from Latvia’s State Treasury for bridge project

To finance the reconstruction of Krasta Street and Brasas Bridge, Riga City Council plans to take a EUR 14.23 million loan from Latvia’s State Treasury, according to documents added to the working agenda of Riga City Councils Finance and Administrative Affairs Committee.

EU postpones British withdrawal to April 12 or May 22

The United Kingdom has been given two extra weeks by the European Union to decide for the third time on its withdrawal agreement and to leave on April 12 if it is not passed or to leave on May 22 if it is passed.

Less precipitation expected in Latvia this week and more sunlight expected next week

On weekends the sky will be equally cloudy and sunny. Some rain is expected only on Saturday and the night to Sunday. On the night to Saturday, there will be clear sky and air temperature will drop to 0° C… -4° C, according to Latvian State Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

Producer price level in industry in Latvia up 0.6% in February

Compared to January, the level of producer prices in Latvian industry rose by 0.6 % in February 2019. Prices of products sold on the domestic market grew by 1.2 %, but prices of exported products remained the same.

Latvian president proposes giving citizenship to all children born in Latvia

Latvia’s President Raimonds Vējonis has submitted to the Saeima a legislative draft On Ceasing Provision of Non-Citizen Status to Children. This draft suggests giving children born to non-citizen parents Latvian citizenship upon birth starting from 1 January 2020 unless parents have decided on giving their child citizenship of another country, as reported by State President’s Chancellery.

Expert: Latvia has not accomplished with reduction of inequality

In the past seven years Latvia’s government has not properly implemented the recommendations provided by the European Commission on reduction of inequality, European Anti-Poverty Network’s EAPN-Latvia board chairperson Laila Balga told LNT programme 900 seconds on Thursday, 21 March.

Ruling LFGU’s presidential hopeful Skvernelis unveils key foreign policy points

Lagging in the presidential polls behind the frontrunner Gitanas Nausėda and MP Ingrida Šimonytė, Lithuania’s prime minister Saulius Skvernelis, the presidential hopeful of the ruling Farmers and Greens Union, LFGU, is ready to move heaven and earth in attracting voters on his side.

Banks in Estonia adopt increased anti-money laundering regulations

The Estonian Banking Association has decided to task its member lenders to fullfil anti-money laundering due diligence measures in an attempt to further heal Estonian banking reputation scarred by the Danske Bank money-laundering scandal.

Penalty to be applied to people for causing trouble for whistle-blowers in Latvia

Additions to the Latvian Code of Administrative Violations provide the application of a fine of up to EUR 14,000 to a legal person for causing trouble for whistle-blowers or their family members, as reported by Latvian State Chancellery.

New Zealand bans sales of semi-automatic weapons after Christchurch shootings

Assault rifles and military-style semi-automatics have been banned in New Zealand in a government reaction to the Christchurch mosque shootings.

Latvian parties submit 15 candidate lists for European Parliament elections

Five more Latvian political parties and party associations have submitted candidate lists to the Central Election Commission for upcoming European Parliament elections. So far participating parties include the National Alliance, Latvian Association of Regions, Latvian Social Democratic Workers Party, New Conservative Party and KPV LV.

Study: 55.6% of businessmen complain about high taxes in Latvia

Looking at the amount of taxes companies pay, 55.6% of businessmen and CEOs said there are too high, 36.5% said taxes are a bit too high, whereas 7.2% said taxes are as high as they need to be, according to data from Turība University’s Business Index.

Brussels: EU to support short Brexit postponement, if London passes deal

In the Brexit saga, a no-deal withdrawal is possible again as Donald Tusk has warned EU leaders will only agree to a short delay if MPs back Theresa May’s deal in March.

Allowance for people suffering from serious disability to be increased by EUR 100 in Latvia

From 1 July the Latvian government plans to increase the allowance for children and adults who require special care and who suffer from serious health problems from childhood.

Latvian minister: we should work with convicts, not isolate them

People who are currently isolated from society in prisons should not be kept isolated – they should be allowed to re-socialize, said Latvian Justice Minister Jānis Bordāns at a press-conference about the study on former inmates’ abilities to re-socialize.

Newest comments