Due to experts' forecast of higher prices and a slow-down in the economy in 2009, President Adamkus urged Parliament on Dec. 3 to cut down operational expenses in the national budget by several percent. In the president's address to Parliament, he said he feared failure to balance the 2008 budget would make it more difficult to curb inflation and manage the potentially higher prices of energy resources. The government has proposed increasing budget allocations by another 300 million litas (86.88 million euros). The final vote on the draft budget draft is scheduled for Dec. 6.
The Vilnius square that's home to the Frank Zappa monument is now bustling with new original drawings by students and professors from the Vilnius Art Academy. The artists spent the Dec. 1 - 2 weekend sprucing up the square, painting over old graffiti and adding their own street art concepts to the mix. The monument has been surrounded by walls trashed with illegal graffiti since it was installed in 1996 by fans of the American music legend. Artists told BNS the cleaned up square will attract more locals and tourists to visit.
Prime Minister Gediminas Kirkilas has assured Brussels that his country is ready to sign an electricity bridge agreement with Poland. At a meeting with European Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs in Brussels, Kirkilas stressed that the signing of the agreement was important for Lithuania, the governmental press service said Nov. 29. The Lithuanian government plans to order a study before the end of the year on the economic security of the country after 2010 once the Ignalina nuclear plant is decommissioned.
Seimas National Security and Defense Committee Chairman Algimantas Matulevicius has warned that the new nuclear plant planned for Ignalina could become a target for Al Qaeda. "A power plant is a specific object... some person tied with Al Qaeda could by a few shares and, under the current joint-stock company law, would have a full right to find out all security measures utilized in this object, because shareholders have access to almost all of the information. We cannot be playing with this thing," the MP said in a press conference. Matulevicius proposed that special legislation be set to control the "share flow" of the national investor.
U.S. billionaires Bill and Melinda Gates created a fund to modernize Lithuanian libraries. The 37.5 million lita (10.9 million euro) fund was established in agreement with representatives from the Ministry of Culture and the National Library on Dec. 4. Thanks to the fund all 851 of Lithuania's libraries will receive new computer equipment, Internet access and learning centers to train librarians. Another 24 million litas (7 million euros) was allotted to the Libraries for Progress project.
The European Commission is allotting 124 million euros from its Trans-European Transport Networks Fund to studies and construction works on the Rail Baltica project. Lithuania will receive 88.87 million euros, the major share of the support. Rail Baltica is among the EU's 30 priority infrastructure projects.