- July 8, 2014
Discussion on regional development involving Prime Minister in Šalčininkai region
Today the Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevičius is visiting the Šalčininkai region. Together with the Mayor of Šalčininkai District Municipality Zdzisław Palewicz and the Mayor of Vilnius District Municipality Maria Rekść he’s participating in the discussion entitled: “Economic Strategy for regions – increase business capability, create prosperity”.
Other participants of the discussion are Minister of Economy Evaldas Gustas, the government plenipotentiary for Vilnius District Municipality Audrius Skaistys, who has a reputation for anti-polish decisions, directors of municipal corporations, representatives of the business community and employer’s organizations.
“You have energetic and enterprising people, who can make use of programmes aiming at business development” – said Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevičius at the conference.
The Mayor of Šalčininkai District Municipality Zdzisław Palewicz emphasized: “Despite of difficulties we do our best to act efficiently and thoughtfully”. He stressed that Šalčininkai region was a friendly environment for business development. “Small and medium enterprises predominate in the region. A lot of construction and wood processing companies operate in our municipality” – mentioned Palewicz.
The Mayor said, that the administration of the local government acquired means from European funds, which were allocated for improvement of health care services, development of tourism, environmental protection projects and development of sport facilities.
Palewicz informed, that the unemployment rate in the region has decreased, despite the lack of skilled labour force, as he pointed out.
The Mayor stated, that the image of the Šalčininkai region created by unfriendly media doesn’t correspond with the facts.
The Mayor of Vilnius District Municipality Maria Rekść in her speech gave examples of development in the Vilnius region such as an increase in population despite of demographic decline in the country, growing number of people with higher income, well-developed road infrastructure and business-friendly tax system.
The Mayor presented ways to increase the number of new workplaces and stated that companies which created new workplaces and have retained them for at least a year paid lower taxes or even ware exempt from taxes. Mayor Rekść stated that despite of difficult financial conditions the local government was constantly developing infrastructure in the region, thereby improving the well-being of its citizens: “Even with a small budget the local government managed within last seven years to build four new nursery schools, two hospitals and one medical centre, all financed by local government’s own means”.
The Mayor talked about problems, which local governments in Lithuania have to contend with. She mentioned the role of local governments in Lithuania, which in comparison with other EU member states is relatively small and raised the issue of low sums allocated by the country’s government for local government own tasks; the scope of the tasks has been and still is expanding.
“Local governments are provided with 13% of the national budget, which doesn’t ensure appropriate performance of own tasks. In Poland local governments receive about 35% of the national budget” – said Rekść about the problems of local governments in Lithuania.
The Mayor stressed the necessity of curbing the practices of dishonest people, who become rich by changing land use classification: “We all agree that proper procedures for families and people, who are going to build a house, should be simplified, but if the land use classification is changed and then the land is divided into several parts in order to plan a housing development, such activity should be taxed, because the price for such a lot is two, three or even seven times higher. If such “business” is taxed, the local government budget would have money for road or light infrastructure or building nursery schools”.
Both Mayors stated unanimously that a multiethnicity and multiculturalism are the invaluable assets of the Šalčininkai and Vilnius regions and should be presented as a positive distinguishing features of that country’s part.
The Šalčininkai region was visited recently also by the President of Lithuania Dali Grybauskaitė. The visits paid by the most important people of the country seem to be organized in order to give the impressions of taking care of the Šalčininkai and Vilnius regions and do not aim at genuine concern about well-being of the citizens living there. These visits are also a result of the presidential election and European Parliament election, which went well for the party governing this region. Apparently, the country’s government is trying to keep up appearances that it takes measures aiming at the development of the Šalčininkai and Vilnius regions.
Translated by Maciej Jóźwiak within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.