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LITHUANIA DAILY NEWS BULLETIN, May 31, 2024

Jun 03 2024

LITHUANIA DAILY NEWS BULLETIN

 


IN THIS ISSUE:

 

  1. Upcoming events in Lithuania for Friday, May 31, 2024
  2. Lithuania records no illegal border crossings from Belarus
  3. Lithuania's Tax Freedom Day comes 8 days later this year
  4. NATO will have to show it's serious about enlargement, Ukraine's victory – Landsbergis
  5. Lithuanian formin expects NATO allies to agree on allowing Ukraine to use arms in Russia
  6. Lithuanian, Portuguese army chiefs discuss bilateral, NATO cooperation
  7. Lithuania needs to reform its pension system – head of IMF mission
  8. Banks interpret promises on solidarity levy as they want – Lithuanian finmin
  9. Swedish anti-aircraft missiles delivered to Lithuania
  10. Lithuanian parlt donates cars, computers, fire extinguishers to Ukraine

 


 

Upcoming events in Lithuania for Friday, May 31, 2024

 

VILNIUS, May 31, BNS – The following events are scheduled in Lithuania for Friday, May 31, 2024.

 

PRIME MINISTER Ingrida Simonyte to continue her visit to Singapore.

 

DEFENSE MINISTER Laurynas Kasciunas to attend the Shangri-la Dialogue 2024 security forum in Singapore.

 

FOREIGN MINISTER Gabrielius Landsbergis to continue his working visit to Prague, to attend a meeting of NATO foreign ministers.

 

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Lithuania records no illegal border crossings from Belarus

 

VILNIUS, May 31, BNS – Thursday marked yet another day of no recorded attempts to cross into Lithuania from Belarus illegally, the State Border Guard Service (SBGS) said on Friday morning.

 

Latvia did not report any attempts at illegal border crossings on Thursday either. Some 151 irregular migrants were not allowed into Poland on Wednesday, according to the latest available information.

 

A total of 217 irregular migrants have been barred from entering Lithuania from Belarus at non-designated places so far this year.

 

The influx of irregular migrants to the EU's eastern member states from Belarus began in 2021 and is blamed by the West on the Minsk regime.

 

Almost 4,200 irregular migrants crossed into Lithuania from Belarus illegally in 2021. However, the vast majority of them fled Lithuania once they were allowed to move freely.

 

Lithuanian border guards have prevented a total of almost 22,000 people from crossing in from Belarus since August 3, 2021, when they were given the right to turn away irregular migrants. The number includes repeated attempts by the same people to cross the border.

 

 

 

 

 

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Lithuania's Tax Freedom Day comes 8 days later this year

 

VILNIUS, May 31, BNS – Increased government spending has caused Lithuania's Tax Freedom Day to arrive on May 31 this year, eight days later than last year, the Lithuanian Free Market Institute (LFMI) said on Friday.

 

Elena Leontjeva, the think-tank's president, says this year's Tax Freedom Day is special becasue taxes have remained practically unchanged, but government spending has risen, which is why the symbolic day has been pushed back and now coincides with the start of summer.

 

This year, five more days of work are needed to finance social protection and two additional days for national defense compared to last year.

 

According to the LFMI, this year's government spending is planned at over 30 billion euros, 7 percent higher than the projected tax revenue. The budget deficit of 3 percent of GDP is expected to be financed through borrowing.

 

Tax Freedom Day is a symbolic day of the year that shows how much of the income people earn goes to finance public spending.

 

The symbolic day is calculated and announced each year in many countries worldwide, including the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Scandinavian countries.

 

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NATO will have to show it's serious about enlargement, Ukraine's victory – Landsbergis

 

VILNIUS, May 31, BNS – The time is approaching when NATO will have to show whether it is serious about helping Ukraine win the war, deter Russia and accept new members, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis says as NATO foreign ministers are meeting in Prague.

 

"I think the time is coming when it will be determined whether we as an alliance are serious. Serious about quite a lot of things. Are we serious about assisting Ukraine to win this war, are we serious to deter Russia, so that Russia has strategic dilemmas if it continues further in Ukraine but also if it continues with its hybrid activities in Europe and in NATO," Lithuania's top diplomat told journalist.

 

"I wish that this Alliance will find strength in itself and, celebrating the 75th anniversary, also very clearly declares that yes, we are serious, we can win, we can deter and we can invite new members," he added.

 

The time is also coming, he said, when it will become clear whether NATO is serious about accepting new members.

 

"We've been quite good at speaking nice words, making promises, but we have to start delivering on this. And it's not just about those who depend on our promises, but it's also about our credibility," Landsbergis underlined.

 

At the last foreign ministers' meeting before the Washington Summit, top diplomats from NATO countries are discussing the Alliance's long-term practical and political support to Ukraine and Ukraine's path to NATO membership.

 

The NATO Summit in Washington will take place on July 9-11.

 

By Vilmantas Venckūnas

 

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Lithuanian formin expects NATO allies to agree on allowing Ukraine to use arms in Russia

 

VILNIUS, May 31, BNS – Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis hopes that after listening to Kyiv's advice, NATO allies will agree on whether to allow Ukraine to use their supplied weapons to strike Russian territory.

 

"I've always been of an opinion that Ukrainians are absolutely capable of defining the targets. I have full confidence that they know, they see and they understand what is needed, where the threat comes from," Landsbergis told reporters on Friday ahead of an informal meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Prague.

 

"I understand that not every country in the Alliance sees that way. But I hope that through the conversation with the Ukrainians, hearing the Ukrainians, the decisions will be formed," he said.

 

Speaking about Ukraine's potential targets on Russian territory, Landsbergis singled out military targets, such as troop camps and military equipment storage facilities.

 

"My hope is that the advice to the allies what they are going to allow comes from Ukraine," he said. 

 

Lithuania's top diplomat said he believes that if a military target were moved from Russia to Belarusian territory, Ukrainians could still strike it. 

 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is pressing Kyiv's supporters, in particular the United States, to allow the use of their supplied longer-range weapons to hit targets on Russian territory.

 

It was reported on Thursday that US President Joe Biden had lifted restrictions on Ukraine's use of American-supplied weapons against targets on Russian territory, but only to defend the shelled Kharkiv region.

 

 

 

By Vilmantas Venckūnas

 

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Lithuanian, Portuguese army chiefs discuss bilateral, NATO cooperation

 

VILNIUS, May 31, BNS – Chief of Defense of Lithuania has met with his Portuguese counterpart Jose Nunes da Fonseca and discussed key issues related to military cooperation between the two countries and in the NATO context, the Lithuanian army said on Friday.

 

The two chiefs of defense visited the Portuguese Air Force troops who currently deployed in Lithuania's Siauliai as part of NATO's Baltic Air Policing mission and the Portuguese Marines currently deployed in Klaipeda on a rotational basis at the Brigadier General Povilas Plechavicius training area.

 

The Portuguese chief of defense came to Lithuania together with the country's Defense Minister Nuno Melo who met with Lithuanian Defense Minister Laurynas Kasciunas on Thursday.

 

"Although we are geographically distant from each other across the European continent, Portugal has a global view of the security situation and a very good understanding of the threats facing our region," Rupsys said in the statement.

 

Portugal has been sending its troops and fighter jets to take part in the Baltic Air Policing mission since 2007, and the country's marines have been deployed in Klaipeda on a rotational basis since 2018.

 

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Lithuania needs to reform its pension system – head of IMF mission

 

VILNIUS, May 31, BNS – Lithuania needs a structural reform of its pension system as its population continues to age, Borja Gracia, the head of an IMF mission, says.

 

"There needs to be a pension reform, a parametric (systemic – BNS) pension reform. Your pension system is benefiting from better than expected dynamics in the labor market, higher labor participation, higher employment in the short term, high wage growth," he told a seminar held by the IMF mission and the central Bank of Lithuania in Vilnius. "But aging is kicking and kicking quite significantly."

 

2024 is the first year when more people will retire in Lithuania than will enter the labor market, Gracia said, adding that the planned increase in the retirement age will end in 2026, which will further "increase pressure on the SoDra (Lithuania's social insurance fund – BNS)". 

 

By 2030, he said, the number of workers in Lithuania will fall from 1.8 million to 1.3 million and they will have to pay a large share of pensions, which will require a redistribution of the state budget.

 

The IMF mission chief also says that Lithuania needs to make its health and education systems more effective, as well as to increase budget revenue collection.

 

The Gracia-led IMF mission will work in Vilnius until June 7.

 

Editor: Roma Pakėnienė

 

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Banks interpret promises on solidarity levy as they want – Lithuanian finmin

 

VILNIUS, May 31, BNS – As Lithuanian politicians consider extending the so-called temporary bank solidarity levy and the industry's representatives accuse the government of breaking promises, Finance Minister Gintare Skaiste says that banks interpret promises the way they want to.

 

"The promise is understood by the side in the way they want to understand it. My promise is to prepare a legislative proposal that reflects the exceptional circumstances that have developed in the financial sector," Skaiste said at a seminar held by the Lithuanian central bank and the IMF mission in Vilnius on Friday. 

 

"At that time (spring 2023), the law was intended to be in effect for two years. However, if I see that the situation remains exceptional and atypical for at least another year, considering the needs for defense funding, I submit a proposal to extend the regulation," she said.

 

According to the minister, if an agreement is reached to increase the corporate income tax, the additional revenue for defense funding will only come in 2026, so the bank solidarity levy is a good way to raise extra funds in 2025.

 

Skaiste said on Thursday that the exceptional situation in the banking market would likely continue for at least another year.

 

"The European Central Bank is likely to start cutting interest rates in June," the minister told the parliament.

 

"This means that we can expect interest rates to stabilize in the second half of next year, which means that banks' profits from net interest income will fall," she said. 

 

The finance minister said last October that the temporary bank solidarity levy could not be extended in the future because the base on which the tax is calculated would not exist after 2024. 

 

Eivile Cipkute, president of the Association of Lithuanian Banks, which opposes the extension, has said that the government is breaking its promise that the levy, which was introduced last year, will be temporary. 

 

The parliament on Thursday agreed to debate bank solidarity levy proposals from both the government and the opposition, meaning that MPs will have to decide whether the tax will be collected for one more year or made permanent.

 

According to Skaiste, the central Bank of Lithuania estimates that the solidarity levy could generate 50 million to 70 million euros in revenue next year.  

 

 

 

Editor: Roma Pakėnienė

 

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Swedish anti-aircraft missiles delivered to Lithuania

 

VILNIUS, May 31, BNS – Bolide missiles for the Swedish-made RBS-70 short-range anti-aircraft defense system have been delivered to the Lithuanian Armed Forces.   

 

The total value of the ammunition is 15 million euros, the Defense Ministry said on Friday. 

 

The Bolide-type missiles, which are designed for the RBS-70 system, will contribute to a more efficient performance of air defense tasks, it said.

 

The contract with Sweden's SAAB Dynamics AB on the acquisition of Bolide and MK-2 type guided missiles for the RBS-70 system was signed in the fall of 2022.

 

RBS-70 systems are used by the Lithuanian Air Defense Battalion.

 

The ministry has said that the system was chosen for its "undemanding operation and mobility, and for being completely mechanical and electromagnetic interference-proof".

 

 

 

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Lithuanian parlt donates cars, computers, fire extinguishers to Ukraine

 

VILNIUS, May 31, BNS - In response to Ukraine's request for urgent humanitarian aid, the Office of the Seimas of Lithuania has donated vehicles and office equipment to the military-civil administration of Tiahynka in Ukraine's the Kherson region.

 

The aid includes nine cars, 15 laptops, projectors, fire extinguishers and other items, the Seimas press service reports.

 

"We are supporting Ukraine as much as we can and we think that these cars will be very useful as we know that vehicles are very short-lived there and are always needed," Speaker of the Seimas Viktorija Cmilyte-Nielsen said.

 

Having recently visited Kherson, Seimas Vice Speaker Paulius Saudargas, says de-occupied areas along the frontline need all kinds of humanitarian aid the most. "They need everything," he said.

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