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Week in Lithuania. PM expects EU commission's approval for food vouchers

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Lithuanian Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis says there should be no problem obtaining the European Commission’s approval for a food voucher system that was approved by the government on Wednesday, November 21. The plan is to allocate food coupons to families with preschool-age children at the initial stage of the scheme.

If it proves to be successful, vouchers will be given out to all people in the future. A person will be eligible for three vouchers monthly. Each voucher will offer a discount amounting to 20 percent of its value, which will likely be 10 euros. It is planned that people will be able to use their food vouchers, which will be largely electronic, to pay for products in small stores selling fresh agricultural produce.

Swedbank Lithuania’s chief economist Nerijus Mačiulis says that the food voucher system is not an instrument that will help people on low incomes, but rather a symbolic measure to encourage small-sized businesses.

Lithuania marks centenary of armed forces

Lithuania on Friday, November 23, was marking 100 years since the establishment of its Armed Forces. On this occasion, President Dalia Grybauskaite conferred the rank of general to three military officers. The Defence Ministry held a ceremony of awards and conferral of military ranks at noon and hosted a reception at the Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania in Vilnius in the evening. A solemn formation and parade of military equipment was to take place in the capital’s Konstitucijos Avenue on Saturday. On this occasion, President Dalia Grybauskaite promoted three Army brigadiers to the rank of major generals, and one of them to the rank of rear admiral.

Teachers vow to continue strike

Teachers in Lithuania vowed this week to continue their ongoing protests over the new tenure-based pay system introduced in September, the trade union behind the industrial action said on Thursday, November 22. Over 100 schools were expected to be on strike next week, Andrius Navickas, leader of the Lithuanian Education Employees Trade Union, said. Over 70 schools this week were now taking part in the industrial action in Lithuania, with teachers saying that the new system is non-transparent and unfair and that the ministry failed to ensure proper implementation of this overhaul.

Opposition collects necessary signatures

Opposition conservative Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats said on Tuesday, November 20, they have collected the necessary number of signatures under an interpellation against Education and Science Minister Jurgita Petrauskienė. The party is initiating the interpellation in response to the ongoing teachers’ strikes over the new tenure-based pay system introduced in September. It has been signed by 41 lawmakers, mainly from the opposition political groups, including HU-LCD, the liberals and the social democrats. At least 29 signatures are needed for an interpellation to be submitted. If the minister’s response is recognised as inadequate and no-confidence in the minister, it must be backed by at least 71 members of the Seimas.

Renowned theatre director dies

Eimuntas Nekrošius, one of Lithuania’s most renowned theatre directors, died in hospital in the early hours of Tuesday, November 20, one day before his 66th birthday. The director felt unwell after a trip and was taken to hospital where he died at around 3 a.m., Arvydas Nekrošius. He was born in Pažobris, a village in the central Lithuanian district of Raseiniai, on November 21, 1952.

After completing his directing studies at the Lunacharsky State Institute for Theatre Arts (GITIS) in Moscow in 1978, he returned to Lithuania and worked as a director at the Kaunas Drama Theatre and the Lithuanian State Youth Theatre in Vilnius.

EU commission okays Lithuania’s draft 2019 budget

Lithuania’s draft budget for 2019 is in line with the eurozone’s fiscal discipline rules, the European Commission said on Wednesday, November 21. In its 2018 autumn forecast, the Commission predicts general government surpluses for Lithuania in 2018 through 2020. The budgetary plan projections of surpluses of 0.6 per cent of GDP in 2018 and of 0.4 per cent in 2019 are in line with the Commission’s estimates. The Commission forecasts that Lithuania’s general government structural deficit will reach 0.6 per cent of GDP this year and will narrow to 0.5 per cent next year.

Government proposes to allow EU citizens to join political parties

The government proposed on Wednesday, November 21, that the Seimas adopt legislative amendments to allow citizens of other EU member states to be members of Lithuanian political parties. The European Commission has launched an infringement procedure against Lithuania, saying its existing regulation is incompatible with EU law. The government proposes to allow EU citizens aged 18 and over to join political parties, provided that they are not members of any political parties in other countries and that they have come to Lithuania for more than six months. The parliament earlier this year rejected the government’s proposal to make it possible for foreigners to found political parties in Lithuania.

Government gives nod to purchase FSRU

The Lithuanian government on Wednesday, November 21, approved legislative amendments paving the way for purchasing the Klaipeda liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal’s floating storage and regasification unit (FSRU). Energy Minister Žygimantas Vaičiūnas says the amendments are needed to reduce the terminal’s operating costs, which now amount to 66 million euros annually, adding that these costs would decline by around 20 million euros to 43 million euros. Klaipėdos Nafta, the terminal’s operator, plans to borrow up to 308 million euros in loans backed by state guarantees. The economic value for Lithuania of purchasing the FSRU and ensuring long-term gas supply is estimated at between 94 million and 407 million euros, depending on regional gas market integration and future demand for gas.

Puteikis registered as first presidential aspirant

Naglis Puteikis, a member of the ruling Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union’s political group in the Lithuanian Seimas, was registered on Wednesday, November 21, as the first aspirant in the upcoming presidential election, the Central Electoral Commission said. Also, 57 participants of the forthcoming municipal election’s political campaign have already been registered, the election watchdog said. Political parties and public election committees can nominate candidates for municipal elections in Lithuania. A person can also register as an independent candidate for mayor. All of it can be done only after being registered participant of the political campaign.

Partisan commander recognized as former head of state

The Seimas on Tuesday, November 20, recognized partisan commander Adolfas Ramanauskas-Vanagas as de facto head of state of post-war Lithuania that was fighting against Soviet occupation. The resolution was passed with 91 votes in favour, none against and seven abstentions. In 1949, the leadership of Lithuanian partisans waging a guerrilla war against the Soviet Union named Ramanauskas-Vanagas as deputy to Jonas Žemaitis-Vytautas, chairman of the Presidium of the Council of the Union of the Lithuanian Freedom Fighters, and appointed him as commander-in-chief of the defence forces.


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