Week in Lithuania: Lithuanian CB cuts 2021 growth estimate to 4.9 percent, China’s Xiaomi rejects Lithuanian report on security breaches

Last week, Cabinet backed proposal to establish intelligence ombudsman, Lithuania reported 1 970 new coronavirus cases, 18 deaths on Friday.
Landsbergis confirmed HU-LCD chairman for last term
Lithuania’s Foreign minister Gabrielius Landsbergis was on Sunday, September 26, confirmed chairman of the ruling conservative Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats for his last four-year term in Vilnius. He has led the party since 2015. The party had initially planned to hold a direct and its first open election to pick its leader early this year, but as all candidates, except for Landsbergis, withdrew, the election was cancelled, and Landsbergis was recognised as the party’s de facto elected chairman. He says such an unusual conformation procedure was due to the dire circumstances related to COVID-19 and the migrant crisis.
Lithuanian CB cuts 2021 growth estimate to 4.9 percent
The central Bank of Lithuania cut on Monday, 27 September, its 2021 growth rate to 4.9 percent, having considered the economic rates of the first half of this year. The bank estimated growth of 5.1 percent this year in June. Lithuania’s economy is expected to slow to 3.5 percent next year, compared to the central bank’s June estimate of 4.1 percent.
Lithuania short of 600 million euros Rail Baltica
Lithuania is sticking to its ambition of building the European-gauge railway Rail Baltica by the end of 2026, even though it lacks around 600 million euros in funding for the project, Deputy Transport Minister Loreta Maskaliovienė said on Tuesday, 28 September. Yet she said Lithuania was ready to meet the 2026 target date for completing the railway line. The total cost of the Rail Baltica project in the Baltic countries was put at around 6 billion euros, but the estimate is currently being revised due to a recent rise in prices for construction materials and works, according to her.
Almost 40 km of razor wire erected on Lithuanian-Belarusian border
Lithuania has already put up almost 40 km of concertina razor wire along its border with Belarus, the Interior Ministry said on Tuesday, 28 September. A total 4 163 migrants have been caught attempting to cross into Lithuania from Belarus illegally so far this year, and over 2 800 people have been pushed back since 2 August.
Lithuanian CB to double down payment for second home loans
The Lithuanian central bank proposed on Tuesday, 28 September, to double the down payment requirement for second home loans to 30 percent, from the current 15 percent. These measures are aimed at the riskiest clients who plan to use real estate for investment and rental purposes, Gediminas Šimkus, the Bank of Lithuania’s governor, says. He noted that around 12 percent of borrowers from banks take out loans for a second home. The central banker expects the down payment requirement to take effect on 1 January, 2022 and the additional capital buffer requirement to come into force on 1 July.
China’s Xiaomi rejects Lithuanian report on security breaches
China’s smartphone giant Xiaomi has rejected the Lithuanian cyber security agency’s findings that its devices have security vulnerabilities and plans to engage a third-party agency to assess the allegations. In a statement released on Wednesday, 29 September, the manufacturer said that Xiaomi phones do not restrict or filter communications to or from their users, and have not done so in the past. The manufacturer said it regularly reviews the policies of its advertising management system to ensure that they meet users’ needs and expectations.
Lithuania wants EU rules to allow migrants’ push-backs
Lithuania proposed on Wednesday, September 29, changing the existing EU migration rules to provide for a possibility to push back irregular migrants when an extreme situation is declared in a country, and to also approve funding from the EU budget for physical barriers.
Cabinet backs proposal to establish intelligence ombudsman
The Lithuanian government supported on Wednesday, 29 September, a legislative initiative to create the institution of an intelligence ombudsman. Under the bill, the Intelligence Ombudsman’s Office would be responsible for independent supervision of the legality of intelligence institutions’ activities and assessment of their compliance with the requirements on the protection of human rights and freedoms. The official would also check if intelligence techniques are lawfully used.
ECHR will not extend interim measures
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) on Thursday, 30 September, ruled not to extend the interim measures introduced in the case of five Afghan migrants against Lithuania. The ECHR stated that the decision was made taking into account the fact that the mentioned Afghan citizen are now in the territory of Lithuania. In early September, the court said the applicants were Afghanistan citizen and they had arrived in Belarus in August and had since been repeatedly attempting to enter Lithuania to seek international protection. Lithuania then asked the ECHR to lift the interim measures.
Lithuania’s buys German rifles for 19 million euros
Lithuania’s National Defence Ministry said on Thursday, September 30, that Lithuania is buying an additional number of German-made G-36 automatic assault rifles for 19 million euros. On Thursday, the Defence Material Agency under the Ministry of National Defence signed a contract with Germany’s Heckler & Koch GmbH for the purchase of these weapons.
Lithuania reintroduces mandatory mask wearing indoors
Wearing facemasks indoors is once again obligatory in Lithuania as of Friday, 1 October. Under the government’s resolution, masks are mandatory indoors as of today when services are provided or received, when people shop, attend events etc., irrespective of whether that activity is done with national COVID-19 certificates or not. Up until now, people with such certificates proving that they have been vaccinated or have had the virus have only been advised to wear masks indoors. Moreover, the recommendation comes into force for legal persons in both the public and private sector to work from home.
Lithuania reports 1 970 new coronavirus cases, 18 deaths
Lithuania registered 1 970 new coronavirus infections and 18 deaths from Covid-19 over the past 24 hours, the country’s statistics office said on Friday, 1 October. Fifteen fatalities were either not vaccinated or only partially vaccinated, three were fully vaccinated.