Week in Lithuania: opposition ponders no confidence vote for government; Rail Baltica’s Kaunas-Riga section to be built first

Last week, OECD said Lithuania could reduce tax exemptions, President hailed EU leaders’ consensus on gas price cap
Vilnius joins UNITED24 fundraising initiative for Ukraine
Vilnius joined a support for Ukraine campaign – two trolleybuses of the Lithuanian capital will carry adverts spreading the word about UNITED24, a fundraising platform launched by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky for collecting charitable donations in support of Ukraine and will help collect support for the country defending itself against Russia’s aggression, the Vilnius municipality said on Friday, October 21. Vilnius says it is the first European city, which has accepted a call to join this initiative. Reportedly, UNITED24 has already collected more than 200 million US dollars (more than 200 million euros) and its current balance exceeds 34 million US dollars (almost 35 million euros).
Opposition ponders no confidence vote for Lithuania’s government
Andrius Mazuronis, a deputy speaker of the Lithuanian Seimas and leader of the opposition Labour Party, said on Friday, 21 October, he will propose to the Seimas opposition to consider holding a no confidence vote for the whole Cabinet, instead of organising interpellations of individual ministers. In his words, such a vote would show whether the Cabinet has the Seimas’ confidence, and if the vote result is positive for the government, it would show that it should continue its work. Under the Seimas Statute, at least one fifth of lawmakers (29) can submit a draft resolution during a parliamentary session to voice direct no confidence in the government. During the no confidence procedure, all ministers can be questioned, followed by an immediate vote of no confidence in the government. Such a resolution is deemed adopted during a secret ballot if at least 71 MPs vote in favour. The opposition has 67 seats in the Lithuanian Seimas.
Lithuania reports 486 new Covid-19 cases, no deaths
Lithuania recorded 486 new coronavirus infections and no deaths from Covid-19 over Thursday, 20 October, the public health authority, NVSC, announced on Friday, 21 October. Of the new cases, 377 were primary, 105 were secondary, and four were tertiary. The number of patients hospitalised with Covid-19 now stands at 131, including eight ICU cases. The 14-day primary infection rate has edged down to 299.9 cases per 100 000 people, with the seven-day percentage of positive tests down to 26.8 percent. The daily number of new coronavirus cases remains well below the peak of over 14 000 reached in early February. More than 1.2 million people in Lithuania have tested positive with Covid-19 at least once.
Foreign Minister says EU responds to Iran attempts to help Russia in war
Sanctions imposed against Iran over supply of weapons to Russia is a message that the European Union (EU) will respond to attempts to help the aggressor wage its war against Ukraine, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis told BBC on Thursday, 20 October. The EU imposed sanctions Thursday against three Iranian generals and an arms firm accused of supplying Iranian drones to Russia that have been used to bomb Ukraine. Landsbergis said it was necessary to make sure that Iran was unable to produce and send drones to Russia.
President hails EU leaders’ consensus on gas price cap
The European Union’s (EU) leaders early on Friday, 21 October, broadly agreed on a gas price cap, which was hailed by Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda as the biggest step forward. After 11 hours of wrangling over broad proposals to lower energy bills, EU leaders finally reached agreement on a roadmap aimed at putting in place measures within weeks to shield European consumers from soaring energy prices and asked the bloc’s energy ministers and the Commission to work out details of the decision on a gas price cap for electricity generation, including a cost and benefit analysis.
OECD says Lithuania could lower tax exemptions
The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) suggests that the Lithuanian government could reduce tax exemptions, with the organization’s chief economist Alvaro Pereira saying that Lithuania’s tax revenue is lower than in other countries. He said that during a press conference held in Vilnius on Thursday, 20 October, while presenting OECD’s Economic Survey of Lithuania 2022. Finance Minister Gintare Skaistė agreed that no additional tax exemptions were necessary and the existing ones should be temporary. According to Pereira, the authorities could modify the existing combinations of taxes, for instance, reduce social contributions increasing environmental taxes simultaneously, in order to avoid new taxes.
Rail Baltica’s Kaunas-Riga section will be built first
The Riga-Kaunas section of the European standard gauge railway Rail Baltica will be built first, Lithuanian Transport and Communications Minister Marius Skuodis said on Wednesday, 19 October. The Rail Baltica railway, which will connect Warsaw, Kaunas, Vilnius, Riga, Tallinn and Helsinki, will complete the sector’s integration into the European rail network, the Lithuanian minister said during the Transport Innovation Forum taking place in Vilnius. Meanwhile, Latvian Transport Minister Talis Linkaits pointed out that Rail Baltica should be built faster.
Chechnya recognition issue off Lithuania’s foreign policy agenda
The issue of recognition of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria is not on Lithuania’s foreign policy agenda, Speaker of the Lithuanian Seimas Viktorija Čmilytė-Nielsen said after Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada on Tuesday recognised Chechnya as «temporarily occupied by the Russian Federation». On Tuesday, 287 members of Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada votes in favour of a resolution recognising the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria as «temporarily occupied by he Russian Federation».
European Parliament endorses Lithuanian candidate for Court of Auditors
The European Parliament on Tuesday endorsed on Tuesday, 18 October, the nomination of Laima Liucija Andrikienė, chairwoman of the Lithuanian parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs, to join the European Court of Auditors (ECA). The European Parliament said in a press release that 367 MEPs voted in favor of Andrikienė’s candidacy, 205 against, and 64 abstained. The ECA’s members are appointed by the EU Council for a six-year term, after consulting the European Parliament. Andrikienė of the conservative Homeland Union–Lithuanian Christian Democrats is being delegated for the position after the term of Lithuania’s previous representative, Rimantas Šadžius, expired in May. The Luxembourg-based court’s mission is to supervise and audit the EU’s budget in terms of both revenue and spending.
Taiwanese experts inspect meat producers in Lithuania
Taiwanese experts on Monday, 17 October, began checking Lithuanian meat producers that plan to export beef to Taiwan. During the two-week audit, representatives of Taiwan’s Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine as well as the country’s the Food and Drug Administration will look into how three meat producers are meeting, Lithuania’s State Food and Veterinary Service said. More than 20 Lithuanian food producers want to export their products to Taiwan.