• October 23, 2017
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New administrative division of Lithuania is a threat to Vilnius Region

Interior ministry of Lithuania is working on ‘White paper’ – new administrative division. According to plans of the authorities, instead of 10 districts, there are going to be 4 regions, part of 60 self-governments is going to be abolished, some of them are going to change the borders. Department plans on changing the borders of Vilnius Region.

‘During 10 years such administrative division is taking place for the third time. The final decision will be made by citizens’ votes’ – informed Kurier Wileński Maria Rekść, mayor of Vilnius Region.

-Right now there is no any decision made. Tests are being run and we are calculating everything. We are looking for the best decisions. We are consulting with society and mayors of the regions. When we receive all the feedback, then we will know what to do. We are planning on administrative division reform to start from a pilot project. Šiauliai, part of the region will be joined to a new self-government – Kuršėnų and some other part to Šiauliai and they will go over the top first. But we don’t know yet when the pilot projects will take place, said Giedrius Surplys to Kurier Wileński.

Instead of 10 districts, Lithuania will be divided into 4 regions. Each of them is going to have a particular specialization – development priorities. Vilnius region is going to be specialized in plastic and paper production, power industry, thermal management and waterworks. Transport and logistics, forestry, financial and business services, programming, IT and communication, cultural activities and entertainment, pharmaceutic science.

-It is nothing new. These plans have been there for a long time. The current division of borders does not meet expectations. Many people live in the region and work in the cities, they give their kids lift to school or kindergarden that are hard to reach. The demographical situation is also a problem: some regions are so depopulated, that it does not make sense to keep administrative apparatus – highlighted Giedrius Surplys.

Regional governments are interested in pursuing a liberal policy in regard to house building sector because then they are increasing influence on their budget and at the same time are not interested in developing public infrastructure. That is why citizens are forced to use services from neighbouring cities. Municipalities do not want to give their services to citizens of regions and they implement various restrictions, for example, kindergardens do not take kids from beyond the cities. ‘White paper’ will contain directions of the regional policy for next 10 years. Changes are also awaiting small governments. Lithuania is the only country in western civilization, that has regional division. Such administrative units take place only in Russia and in Belarus, and Lithuania is planning to resign on this ‘Soviet relic’. Interior ministry of Lithuania is planning to abolish 6 self-governments who’s headquarters are placed in the area of other regions: Vilnius, Kaunas, Klaipeda, Šiauliai, Alytus district municipalities are leftovers from Soviet times when executive committees of rural self-governments were placed in big cities. Kolhozy are not there since 20 years, but borders of self-governments have not been changed since then. According to the department of inner affairs, these ideas might not be approved by self-governments, but despite this, it wants to approve the plan until February 2018.

Translated by Agnieszka Piontek within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.

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