VILNIUS - Amid calls by Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda to increase public spending on social needs, Finance Minister Vilius Sapoka says the government has already allocated significant funding for poverty reduction in recent years.
"Budgeting is special in that it requires prioritizing needs. Very significant amounts of money have been allocated for poverty alleviation in recent years," Sapoka told LRT Radio on Friday.
"We shouldn't get ourselves lulled into over-optimism, but we shouldn't be over-pessimistic either. We must be realistic," he added.
The minister also warned of an economic slowdown globally and in Lithuania.
"The world economy is decelerating (...), and Lithuania's economic growth is set for a considerable slowdown in the coming year, too. Therefore, we must be very cautious, prepare for it and take decisive measures and carry out the necessary education, healthcare and social security reforms," he said.
Nauseda called for an increase in funding for social needs after meeting with acting Social Security and Labor Minister Linas Kukuraitis on Thursday.
"Social security spending is low, and the emphasis here is on how to find resources to increase funding for social needs, which is (currently) about twice as low as the European Union average," Simonas Krepsta, a presidential advisor, said after the meeting.