Week in Lithuania: Lithuania adopts 2022 budget, registers its first child death from Covid-19

Last week, the top news stories in Lithuania were the adoption of the 2022 state budget, registering, the first child death from Covid-19 and the rejection of ministerial resignations in the Belaruskalij scandal.
EU Commissioner Sinkevičius leaves Lithuania’s LFGU
Lithuania’s European Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius announced on Monday, December 13, his decision to leave the Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union. Sinkevičius joined the LFGU in 2017, a year after the general election. He later served as the economy and innovation minister. Now, he says that the party no longer needs people who, with their hard work, discussions on its future. Some former LFGU members are now joining a new party being established by ex-Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis.
Lithuania registers its first child death from Covid-19
Lithuania has registered its first child death from Covid-19, the country’s statistics office, Statistics Lithuania, said on Monday, December 13. Reportedly, the child died back in September but the exact cause of death had to be determined by the State Forensic Medicine Service. The child was brought to a hospital in Lithuania’s western city of Telšiai by his mother on August 31 because he had laryngitis, Eglė Lysovienė, the head of the hospital’s children unit, said. There was no information at the time that the child had COVID-19 and he was released home with instructions for symptomatic treatment. The child died on September 1.
Ministry proposes law banning transit of Belarusian goods via Lithuania
Lithuania’s Transport Ministry proposed on Monday, December 13, to the country’s government and the parliament to adopt a law introducing sanctions for goods directly or indirectly imported, bought or transferable goods from Belarus. That would allow Lithuania to prevent any transit of Belaruskali fertilisers via Lithuania’s territory.
Foreign, Transport ministers keep their posts
Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis and Transport Minister Marius Skuodis will remain in their posts, Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė announced on Tuesday, December 14. Meanwhile, the head of the state-owned railway company LTG (Lithuanian Railways) will step down over the Belarusian potash transit debacle. Landsbergis and Skuodis have offered their resignations after it turned out that Lithuania’s state-owned railway company would continue transporting Belarusian fertilisers even as the US imposed sanctions on Belaruskali, the state-owned potash manufacturer. Belaruskali exports most of its production via Lithuania. The US sanctions on the company were announced in August and came into force on December 8.  The Lithuanian government says that the US sanctions do not directly apply to the transit of fertilisers through Lithuania.
UAE releases Lithuanian woman sentenced to life for drug possession
The United Arab Emirates announced on Tuesday, December 14, that it has set free a young Lithuanian woman convicted of possessing drugs and sentenced to life in prison. The move comes as Lithuania prepares to sign legal assistance agreements with the UAE, which would have made it possible for Emilija Sedleckaitė to return to her home country to serve a lighter sentence. However, the Lithuanian citizen was released early after her request for amnesty was granted.
Lithuanian parliament adopts 2022 budget
The Lithuanian parliament on Tuesday, December 14, adopted the country’s state budget for 2022. Next year’s budget revenue is estimated at 14.381 billion euros, including EU funds, with expenditure planned at 16.628 billion euros. The general government deficit is projected at 3.3 percent of GDP. The state debt is estimated to amount 44.8 percent GDP next year, up by one percentage point from this year.
Read also: BNN ANALYSES | Belarus’ Belaruskali threatens Lithuania’s Conservatives-led Cabinet
China-owned company eyes building Lithuania’s longest railway bridge
A Spanish company owned by a Chinese state company might be declared the winner of the tender to build a railway bridge over the River Neris, which is part of the Railway Baltica European standard-gauge railway project, Lithuanian media reported on Wednesday, December 15. Lietuvos Geležinkeliai (Lithuanian Railways, LG), the country’s state-owned railway company, is proposing signing the contract for the construction of the 1.5-km bridge, valued at 62.5 million euros, over the River Neris near Jonava with Spain’s Puentes y Calzadas Infraestructuras, in which two thirds of the shares belong to Chinese state-owned company China Road and Bridge Corporation.
Lithuania records its first two Omicron cases
The first two Omicron cases have been confirmed in Lithuania. They were confirmed after additional sample tests were done at the National Public Health Surveillance Laboratory, Health Vice Minister Aušra Bilotienė-Motiejunienė said on Wednesday, December 15.
Lithuania’s diplomatic mission in Beijing will for now operate remotely
Lithuania’s diplomatic mission in China will temporarily operate remotely, as Lithuania’s Chargé d’affaires ad interim in China Audra Čiapienė returns to Vilnius for consultations, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs reported on Wednesday, December 15. Čiapienė says China wants Lithuania to rename its mission in Beijing as a charge d’affaires office. China has recently protested against Lithuania’s deepening ties with Taiwan and the opening of the latter’s representative office in Vilnius.
Lithuania-based Revolut Bank becomes full-fledged bank
Revolut Bank, financial platform Revolut’s Lithuanian-based specialised bank, has obtained a banking license from the European Central Bank, the central Bank of Lithuania said on Thursday, December 16.
Conservative MP stays at helm of influential committee
Žygimantas Pavilionis, chairman of the Lithuanian parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs, said on Thursday, December 16, he will not resign from the post, despite calls from fellow conservative MPs. He said he decided not to resign after two cabinet members – Foreign Affairs Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis and Transport Minister Marius Skuodis – kept their jobs following the recent Belarusian sanctions debacle. Earlier this week, the parliamentary group of the ruling Homeland Union (TS-LKD) party called on Pavilionis to step down as chairman of the parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs. The TS-LKD group’s leader Radvilė Morkūnaitė-Mikulėnienė said the reason was a «series of episodes» and Pavilionis’ «strange» public comments criticising the government.
Lithuania reports 1,558 new coronavirus cases, 8 deaths
Lithuania registered 1,558 new coronavirus infections and eight deaths from Covid-19 over the past 24 hours, the country’s statistics office said on Friday, December 17. Six of the fatalities were either not vaccinated or only partially vaccinated. The 14-day infection rate has inched down to 816.1 per 100,000 people, with the seven-day percentage of positive tests unchanged at 11 percent. Overall, almost 498,000 people in Lithuania have tested positive for Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic. The death toll has reached about 7,100.