- December 11, 2012
The Algirdas Butkevičius’ government basic policy statements. What will the new government promise to Polish people?
The new government coalition, which consists of social democrats, Labour Party (Darbo partija), “Order and Justice” („Tvarka Ir teisingumas”) and the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania (AWPL), has presented its new policy to the Sejm. An approval for the new policy will be put to the vote on the 13th of December on Thursday.
The policy of the 16th Lithuanian government has 70 pages divided into 21 sections and 539 points. By comparison, the policy of Andrius Kubilius’ government from 2008 had 102 pages and 926 points.
The policy of the former government was far more detailed and contained the exact postulates (that is why it was criticised by many political scientists as being too thorough and unadoptable for unstable political, social and economic circumstances), whereas the policy of the new government is rather a collection of general political declarations: it includes an analysis of current internal situation, the list of basic values to which the Centre-Left coalition is going to adhere to while exercising power, as well as settled directions and priorities of its activity in years 2012-2016.
A prosperous country, if financial capacity allows
The Centre-Left emphasises that it is determined to transform Lithuania into a prosperous country. The basic values are social solidarity, justice and respect for human rights.
The new government has charted seven main ways of activity: assurance of economical growth; providing productive jobs and social protection for people who cannot work; raising the funds for culture, social protection and education only when the budget revenue grows; tax reform (making taxes more progressive); economic growth with respect for the natural environment; modernization of the countryside; managing the country and the local governments in the way that they come up to peoples’ expectations and providing social justice.
The government under the rule of Butkevičius announced that it is going to rectify all the mistakes made by the previous government: resignation from the principles of the free market in the educational system on all levels (for instance, resignation from financing schools on the basis of the so-called pupil’s basket, reduction of tuition fees and their equalization, funding studies in non-public schools only on the basis of public contracts, etc.); decrease of the SoDry’s debt; more tax reliefs; gradual increase in the minimal salary, remunerations in public sector, retirement and state pensions; reduction in heating expenses; building the LPG terminal; construction of the Energy Bridge with Poland and Sweden; considering the opportunity to build the nuclear power plant (taking into account the results of the referendum).
Policy assumptions anticipate to stimulate new investments and motivate the enterprise to develop; free dinners for school pupils will be restored and the so-called child benefits will be paid to parents who rear children.
In foreign affairs, the government announced to continue with the current policy and to improve relations with the neighbouring countries, and to sustain closer collaboration with EU and NATO. The Centre-Left promised to increase the funds for the national defence in accordance with international obligations.
Nevertheless, all the postulates will only apply under numerous conditions (for example, if financial capacity allows; when all the alternative options are thoroughly analysed; when the economic growth occurs, etc.)
The matter of national minorities in government’s policy
A separate section consisting of 6 points (245-250) is devoted to issues raised by national minorities (mainly by the Poles). The new coalition promises to:
– solve the problems connected with the development of minorities’ cultures by preparing a long-term strategy and creating reasonable conditions for fulfilling their cultural needs;
– prepare a bill on national minorities; a new department will be created in order to represent national minorities; address the issue of writing names and surnames in official documents as well as of spelling names of streets and towns (taking into account the regulations imposed by the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities);
– support minorities’ cultural centres;
– reorganise the network of schools for minorities (Polish and Russian), acting in the interests of those minorities and provide effective education;
– oblige former pupils from non-Lithuanian schools to take the standarised final school exam from Lithuanian in the future;
– provide more state help to preserve the national minorities’ cultural inheritance and its practical use.
Apart from that, in point 394 the government promises to finish the agricultural reform. It commits to finalise the process of returning all the fixed properties, which were nationalised by the Soviet Union, to their owners or their heirs. In point 530, the wish to renew the cooperation with Poland on the strategic level is expressed. These are all the postulates concerning the Polish minority.
Other AWPL’s demands
AWPL, as a part of Lithuanian government, added some requirements concerning the whole nation. They demand that biofuels should be used around the country and that the funds be increased for maintaining service roads. Biofuels are frequently mentioned in the policy. In point 323, the government declares that the production of renewable energy by local producers and use of renewables to provide the electricity and heating should become the priorities of the national energy strategy. In point 324, it is mentioned that the development of utilizing biofuels is the key area in the energy field. According to point 332, biofuels and other sources of renewable energy used to produce heating are to replace gas soon. The government is going to support new biofuels’ producers and suppliers in establishing themselves on the Lithuanian market; it is going to support the activity of biofuels’ stock exchange, use the European funds for enhancing the development of utilizing biofuels and eradicate all bureaucratic obstacles that inhibit this development (point 333). In point 345, the government commits to transfer 30% of funds from the Road Maintenance and Development programme for the maintenance of regional roads.
Tłumaczenie Patrycja Olszówka w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Patrycja Olszówka the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.