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Week in Lithuania. Government to unveil new measures against shadow economy

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The Lithuanian government will next week unveil a set of measures to counter the shadow economy, Finance Minister Vilius Šapoka said on Thursday, April 12.

He did not however disclose further details about the proposed measures. The minister said in February that curtailing the shadow economy might open the way for lowering taxes. Based on different estimates, Lithuania’s shadow economy accounts for between 15 and 30 per cent of GDP. The government is currently finalising its work on structural reform measures that will cover an overhaul of the tax and pension system, certain innovation, education and healthcare changes, and new steps to cut down on the shadow economy.

Liberals leader urges MEP to step down

Eugenijus Gentvilas, the leader of Lithuania’s opposition Liberal Movement, has urged the party’s former member Antanas Guoga to step down from the European Parliament. The party said on Thursday, April 12, that Guoga, who had won his MEP mandate as part of the Liberal Movement, should step down after statements about Liberal MP Virginijus Alekna. According to Gentvilas, Guoga had been consistently working against the Liberal Movement’s interests for a long time. Although Gentvilas is the next politician in line, if Guoga gave up the MEP mandate, the Lithuanian MP would not seek the post.

PM: president’s criticism makes it hard for minister to stay

After President Dalia Grybauskaitė said that Agriculture Minister Bronius Markauskas can no longer remain in office, Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis says that it would difficult for the minister to stay on. However, Ramūnas Karbauskis, the leader of the ruling Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union that delegated the minister to the post, and Parliamentary Speaker Viktoras Pranckietis said they were happy with the minister’s performance in the post, adding that his fate was up to the government to decide. The 15min.lt news website has reported recently that Markauskas’ mother, Sofija Markauskienė, has been using several plots of land in the district of Klaipeda without the landowners’ permission for five to six years and that she has been receiving payments from the National Paying Agency for that land.

MP complains to NATO chief over Conservative MP‘s Facebook posts

Mindaugas Puidokas, a lawmaker of the ruling Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union (LFGU), said that he has turned to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and members of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly over Rasa Juknevičienė’s statements regarding his party. Juknevičienė, a member of the opposition Homeland Union–Lithuanian Christian Democrats, has, in turn, wrote a letter to NATO PA delegations to apologise for internal political squabbles having gone outside of the country, describing the LFGU lawmaker’s letter as an unprecedented affront. The lawmaker pointed out in the letter that Lithuania’s defence budget this year accounts for 2 percent of GDP, a considerable increase compared with 2017. He referred to Juknevičienė’s Facebook posts, in which she calls LFGU Chairman Ramūnas Karbauskis a Kremlin agent.

Pensioners rallied in Vilnius

Pensioners rallied in Vilnius on Thursday, April 12, demanding higher pensions and called on the government to stop transfers from the state social insurance fund Sodra to private pension funds. Protesters staged a rally outside the Presidential Palace before marching to the government building where they handed a list of demands to officials.

Vilius Simutis of the Lithuanian pensioners’ association Bočiai, the organizer of the rally and the march, said that participants wanted to remind the authorities of their promises to further raise pensions. The average monthly old-age pension is planned to reach around 332 euros this year, up by 30 euros from late 2017.

Police won’t tolerate attempts to intimidate officers

The detention of two men suspected of planning an attack on law-enforcement officials in Klaipeda sends a message that attempts to intimidate officers will not be tolerated, Police Commissioner General Linas Pernavas said on Wednesday, April 11. The two men, who were detained in the port city on Wednesday morning, are suspected of planning an attack on the head of the Klaipeda police unit and a local prosecutor. Ramūnas Matonis, spokesman for the Police Department, confirmed that one of the suspects was a lawyer. According to the Police Department, the suspects allegedly collected information about the law-enforcement officers and planned to physically harm their health. Police searched the suspects’ homes and questioned them.

Prosecutors restrict Order and Justice’s rights to state budget allocations

Lithuanian prosecutors on Wednesday, April 11, temporarily restricted the Order and Justice Party’s rights to 223,000 euros in state budget allocations, the Prosecutor General’s Office said.

After receiving information from the Central Electoral Commission about budget allocations to Order and Justice, Prosecutor Rolandas Stankevičius of the Organised Crime and Corruption Investigation Department at the Prosecutor General’s Office decided to completely restrict the party’s rights to the money.

The decision is due to the Special Investigation Service, or STT, conducting a pre-trial investigation into suspected squandering of property, fraudulent and negligent management of accounts, influence peddling, and document forgery. It is suspected that over 377,000 euros in bribes have been accepted for the benefit of the party in exchange for promises and agreements to exert influence in various public procurement processes.

Seimas panel to ask anti-corruption body to look into procurement

The Lithuanian parliament’s investigative commission on the activities of Lithuanian Radio and Television (LRT) asked the Special Investigation Service, or STT, to assess the transparency of the public broadcaster’s program procurement, the panel’s chairman said on Wednesday, April 11. Program procurement at the public broadcaster is governed by a separate government resolution adopted in 2003, rather than by the Law on Public Procurement. The anti-corruption agency’s officials told the commission that the public broadcaster’s procurement practices had not been monitored by any supervisory authority for years.

Lithuanian railway CEO signs long-term contract with Belaruskalij

Lietuvos Geležinkeliai (Lithuanian Railways, LG), the state-run railway company, has signed a long-term contract with Belarus’ sole potassium production and exports company Belaruskalij. Mantas Bartuška, CEO at Lietuvos Geležinkeliai, says that Belarus was one of the Lithuanian company’s main partners. According to him, contract with the country’s largest fertilizer producer Belaruskalij will allow us consolidate our competitive position and plan delivery operations more efficiently, better distribute our resources – cars and locomotives. Last year, Lietuvos Geležinkeliai handled more than 10 million tons of Belaruskalij freight, which accounted for about 20 per cent of LG’s total volume of cargo.


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