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Week in Lithuania. Economists, trade unions cautious about tax, pension reform plans

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Lithuanian economists and trade union officials say that the government’s planned tax and pension system reform unveiled on Monday, April 23, will lead to a rise in wages, but will not help drastically curb emigration.

As part of its plan to streamline the tax system over a period of three years, the government proposes to increase the tax-exempt personal income threshold, to reduce social insurance contribution rates and to introduce a ceiling on payments to the state social insurance fund Sodra.

The government says that a million workers will see their net pay rise by 46 euros next year as a result of the proposed changes. The government intends to present what unprecedented instruments to fight shadow economy, adding that the pension reform will settle tensions within the society in connection to pension inequality. Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis has said that reduction of taxes on labour was one of the main objectives of the tax reform. In his words, efforts will be made to approve the reforms by the end of the parliament’s spring session and to enforce them from Jan. 1 of 2019.

Dutch company to build metal processing plant in Klaipeda

Dutch metal processing company Focus Fabrication Group plans to build a 3,800 square meter metal processing plant in the Lithuanian port of Klaipeda by the middle of 2019, the Verslo Žinios business newspaper reported on April 20. The plant would produce various pipe constructions by processing 10,400 kilograms of metal a day and exports would mainly go to Western European oil and gas companies.

Lithuania considers consulting with Latvia on political FC ads

Lithuania’s Central Electoral Commission (CEC) is considering turning to Latvia for consultations on controlling political ads on social media, as presidential, municipal and European Parliament elections approach.

In early April, representatives of the Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau of Latvia (KNAB) met with Facebook representatives and discussed controlling political ads to ensure electoral transparency. CEC chairwoman Laura Matjošaitytė says no meetings with social media representatives are planned but she hopes that Latvian colleagues will share the results of their meeting and Lithuania could use them.

Court nods to continuation of stadium tender

The Lithuanian Court of Appeals on Thursday, April 19, gave a green light to the concession tender of the National Stadium in Vilnius. The Lithuanian capital’s municipality says the ruling will allow seeking successful implementation of the project.

At the beginning of March, a Vilnius court suspended procedures of the tender of the national stadium after company Vilniaus Nacionalinis Stadionas filed a suit against the decision of the tender commission to reject its bid. Axis Industries along with Venetus Capital, Kauno Arena and architect companies Populous and Cloud Architektai have offered to build the complex for 79.9 million euros.

Seimas pauses in ratification of EU-Canada trade deal

Lithuania’s parliament, Seimas, on Thursday, April 19, decided to take a pause in the adoption of a resolution for ratification of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between the European Union and Canada. The Liberal Movement requested an intermission until the next meeting, saying they wanted to submit amendments. The ruling Farmers and Greens Union said that the separate resolution would help protect Lithuania against imports of genetically-modified organisms (GMO) and hormone-treated beef, however, the parliament is locked in heated discussions about the legal power of the statement.

Lithuania’s 1st Marriott hotel opens in Vilnius

The first Marriott chain hotel in Lithuania was opened in Vilnius on Thursday, April 19, the project’s developer Hanner said. Constructed in part of the former territory of the Žalgiris Stadium, the 4-star hotel Courtyard by Marriott includes 199 rooms, 220 square meters of conference facilities, a restaurant, a bar, a 24-hour store and a gym. Hanner invested 20 million euros in the hotel, which will be operated by the hotel operator Apex Alliance Hotel Management.

Lithuania suggests removing monument to Cvirka

A commission of the Vilnius city municipality suggests removing the monument to writer Petras Cvirka in central part of the Lithuanian capital due to his role in consolidating Soviet occupation of the country during World War II.

A task force consisting of the municipality’s politicians, historians and cultural researchers decided to suggest to Vilnius Mayor Remigijus Šimašius that he should propose the issue for the municipality’s council, conservative Paulė Kuzmickaitė, the head of the commission, said on Thursday, April 19.

Ministry doubts if direct rule in Druskininkai would be proportionate

The Lithuanian Interior Ministry says that there is a legal basis for introducing direct rule by the central government in the southern spa resort of Druskininkai, but doubts if it would be a proportionate administrative measure.

The ministry looked at possibilities for introducing direct rule in Druskininkai as its municipal council has failed to form its Control Committee since last May. Under the law, the committee has to be appointed within two months. The reason behind the failure to form the Control Committee is that the ruling majority and the opposition have been unable to agree on the opposition’s representatives in the committee.

Lithuania renames Museum of Genocide Victims

The Museum of Genocide Victims, situated in the former KGB building in Vilnius, has been renamed the Museum of Occupation and Freedom Fighters. The new name has been included into the new version of the Law on the Genocide and Resistance Research Centre of Lithuania, which was unanimously approved by the Seimas on Thursday, April 19.

The bill still needs to be signed by the president to come into effect. The museum’s older name was criticized because Lithuania allegedly puts too much emphasis on Soviet crimes, which it considers genocide, and downplays the genocide of Jews by Nazi Germany, which also involved Lithuanian collaborators.

PM speaks out against President

President Dalia Grybauskaitė’s motives for rejecting Giedrius Danėlius, an attorney, for the position of justice minister run counter to the principles of the rule of law, Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis says.

«When a person is prevented from becoming a minister due to their profession when they honestly perform their duties, it’s not a legal argument», the prime ministers told journalists. «Moreover, its’ a signal to the legal society, showing that in Lithuania we can question whether we adhere to the rule of law and whether we respect every person’s right to defence and whether this right is impartially ensured.» Earlier in the day, the president said she would not appoint Danėlius as the country’s justice minister because he served as a defence lawyer in a political corruption case.

Rimi-Iki deal is blocked

Shareholders of Palink, the owner of Iki, and Lithuanian shoppers are most affected by the competition authority’s decision to block Rimi Lietuva’s 213-million-euro acquisition of the rival retail chain, analysts and market participants say. The competition body on Wednesday blocked Rimi Lietuva’s acquisition of Iki, saying that the former chain had failed to divest 17 stores within half a year, a condition for finalizing the deal.


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