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Lietuva in brief - 2008-12-17

  • 2008-12-17
Some 38 Thai citizens who were swindled by criminals promising them jobs in Lithuania have left for home after spending three months waiting in Kaunas and paying for the service. The Thai Embassy in Copenhagen helped the broke foreigners return home. The Thai citizens had run a bill of 50,000 litas in a Kaunas-based guest house, which was covered by the Thai government. Officers of Lithuania's State Border Security Service came across the Thai citizens living illegally in Kaunas in early December. The Thai citizens arrived in Lithuania via legal means, but their visas had since expired. They were offered job placement by one of Thailand's recruitment agencies and paid 24,200 litas (7,000 euros) each for the service. Lithuania-based intermediaries promised the Thai citizens wages of approximately 1,700 litas per month once they arrived in the country. Most of the arrivals were cooks in Thailand. Upon arrival they were promised factory, domestic helper or cleaning jobs.

There is no possibility of a devaluation of the litas currency, the International Monetary Fund said. "We do not see a devaluation. We did not discuss such a possibility. The currency board remains the central part of economic policies that contributes to macroeconomic stability and will help to introduce the euro in the future. The IMF strongly supports Lithuania's currency board model," an IMF statement said. Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius said a devaluation of the litas would not help Lithuania to solve its economic problems. "The IMF gave positive marks to the steps we are taking and to our plans, which allows us to look to the coming year with reserved optimism. Today we agreed that we are not planning and will not be planning any currency devaluation," he said. The Bank of Lithuania Governor Reinoldijus Sarkinas has repeatedly said that, in his opinion, devaluation or even any discussions of such a measure are totally unfounded. The idea of devaluing the national currency was put forward in neighboring Latvia. The IMF warned during the initial round of talks with Riga that Latvia should agree to devalue its national currency - the lat - in order to overcome the economic crisis.

The majority of funds allocated by Lithuania to development cooperation and democracy promotion projects in 2008 went to Afghanistan. The projects received 4.43 million litas (1.28 million euros) of almost 11 million litas earmarked by Lithuania for development cooperation and promotion of democracy this year. Social security, sustainable development and infrastructure projects were each granted a third of the sum, with another third going to education, good administration and superiority of law projects, as well as projects aimed at reinforcing cultural ties and cultural heritage protection.

Public holidays will not be compensated for in 2009, the Lithuanian government has decided. The compensation of holidays that fall on weekends has recently become an issue with exceptions being made on a regular basis. There will be no exceptions next year. The amendments are yet to be approved by the parliament.