Week in Lithuania: Seimas increases taxes for lotteries, gambling; inflation estimate goes up

Last week, the top news stories in Lithuania were the tax increase for lotteries and gambling businesses, the Bank of Lithuania increasing its inflation estimate and the European Court of Human Rights requiring Lithuania not to push back people from Pakistan.
Lithuania’s CB ups inflation estimates
The average annual inflation in Lithuania is expected to reach 4.5 percent this year, mostly because of the rising prices for energy products and industrial goods, and further grow to 5.1 percent next year, the central Bank of Lithuania said on Monday, December 20. In September, the central bank expected the average annual inflation rate to stand at 3.3 percent this year and go down to 2.6 percent in 2022.
Taiwanese office opening details weren’t discussed with president
Details of the recent opening of a Taiwanese representative office in Vilnius were not discussed with President Gitanas Nausėda, Asta Skaisgirytė adviser, said on Monday, December 20. Nevertheless, she added, the opening of the trade office was not in essence a problematic issue. Stalling supply of goods to and from China as well as the implementation of international sanctions for Belarus pose risk to Lithuania’s economy but it still remains to be seen how it will affect the country’s economy, the board chairman of the central Bank of Lithuania said on Monday, December 20.
Lithuania posts EU’s highest annual inflation for November
Lithuania’s EU-harmonised annual inflation rate in November was the highest in the EU, according to Eurostat figures released on Monday, December 20. Lithuania’s rate reached 9.3 percent last month. Prices rose by 7.4 percent in Latvia and up by 8.6 percent in Estonia. Annual inflation stood at 4.9 percent on average in the euro area and at 5.2 percent in the whole of the EU.
Population shrinks by 230,000 in a decade to 2.8 million
The Lithuanian population has contracted by about 233,000 people over the past decade, the country’s statistics office said on Tuesday, December 21. Lithuania was home to 2.81 million people as of January 1, 2021, according to the preliminary results of this year’s population census. This is down from 3.053 million ten years ago, 3.48 million in 2001, and 3.67 million in 1989.
MPs give foreign affairs committee chair until Jan 3 to quit
The Homeland Union–Lithuanian Christian Democrats’ political group in the Seimas have given Žygimantas Pavilionis, their fellow conservative MP, until January 3 to step down as chairman of the parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs (CFA), Radvilė Morkūnaitė-Mikulėnienė, group’s chairwoman, said on Tuesday, December 21. After that date, the group will elect a candidate to take over as the committee’s chairman. The party’s leader and Foreign minister Gabrielius Landsbergis did not rule out that Pavilionis might be expelled from the Homeland Union if he refuses to step down.
MPs increase taxes for lotteries, gambling businesses
The Seimas of Lithuania decided on Tuesday, December 21, to increase taxes for remote and land-based gambling and lottery businesses after 76 lawmakers voted in favour of the proposed amendments to the Law on Lottery and gambling Tax, three were against and 27 abstained. As of July, 2020 remote and land-based gambling and lottery businesses will have to pay a 20 percent tax rate and lottery companies will have to pay 18 percent in tax as of January, 2023. The tax rate for gambling companies will be calculated based on their gross gambling revenue. And that for lotteries will be based on the nominal value of sold lottery tickets. Currently, lottery organizers pay 5 percent from the value of sold tickets and also allocate another 8 percent directly to support receivers.
Read also: BNN ANALYSES | Lithuania will slip back into lockdown with 240 COVID-19 patients in ICU
Art auction in Lithuania collects 8,000 euros for Belarusian political prisoners
More than 8,000 euros have been collected to support political prisoners and their families in Belarus during an art auction in Lithuania. The auction was held earlier this month at a Vilnius-based gallery of the Lithuanian Artists’ Association and also online, and some 40 pieces of art were sold, the organisers said. The money, after tax and symbolic pay to the artists, will go to political prisoners and their families in Belarus. There are no over 880 political prisoners in Belarus.
Lithuanian president signs 2022 budget into law
Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda on Wednesday, December 22, signed the 2022 budget and accompanying laws, adopted by the country’s parliament, into law. 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’s budget.
MT Group bags EUR 14 million contract in Belgium
MT Group, a Lithuanian energy and industrial infrastructure construction company, has been awarded a 14-million-euro contract in Belgium to expand the capacity of the Zeebrugge LNG terminal, one of Europe’s first LNG facilities. Under the contract from Belgium’s LNG transmission company Fluxys LNG, work is to start next February and run until mid-2023, the Lithuanian company said on Wednesday, December 22.
Ca 300 million euros can be lost due to China’s pressure next year
Around 60 Lithuanian companies are currently facing problems due to China’s unofficial sanctions, Vidmantas Janulevičius, president of the Lithuanian Confederation of Industrialists (LPK), said on Wednesday, December 22. According to Janulevičius, more than 1,200 containers, worth an estimated 240 million euros, are not coming to Lithuania. Under the pessimistic scenario, if the situation remains unchanged, Lithuanian companies may suffer about 300 million euros in losses due to China’s restrictions next year.
Lithuania reports 1,722 new coronavirus cases, 20 deaths
Lithuania registered 1,722 new coronavirus infections and 20 deaths from COVID-19 over the past 24 hours, the country’s statistics office said on Thursday, December 23. Fifteen of the fatalities were either not vaccinated or only partially vaccinated. The 14-day infection rate has inched down to 770.2 per 100,000 people, and the seven-day percentage of positive tests has edged down to 10.1 percent. Overall, around 508,000 people in Lithuania have tested positive for COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic. The death toll has reached about 7,200.
European court bans Lithuania from pushing Pakistanis back
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) issued on Wednesday, December 22, an interim measure banning Lithuania from pushing four Pakistanis back to Belarus. The migrants were taken by border guards to the Kabeliai frontier station at around 5 p.m. on Wednesday after spending five days in a forest, during which they were given clothes and food.