Lietuva in brief - 2009-02-25

  • 2009-02-25
Lithuania's ruling National Resurrection Party has put up its leader, Parliamentary Speaker Arunas Valinskas, as candidate for president. The candidacy was supported by 249 participants of the party's congress on Feb. 22, with three against and 109 abstentions. "I want to say that if my candidacy is proposed, I agree," said Valinskas. No other presidential candidates were suggested by the National Resurrection Party. Valinskas originally declared his plans to run for president on Feb. 20, prior to the party's decision. According to a recent Vilmorus poll, only 2.8 percent of respondents described Valinskas as the best representative of the nation's interests.

Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius said he doubts that Lithuania's national government would invest into a new basic airline that could take up the niche left empty by the collapse of flagship carrier flyLAL. "We are considering various options to make essential improvements to air traffic. However, I would not dare claim that the state would definitely invest into an aviation company since, first, the state does not have such big resources available. And secondly, if that business is as promising and lucrative as some investors say, I think the investments into that business could be provided by private capital," Kubilius told the reporters on Feb. 20.

Lithuania has lost some of its attractiveness to foreign investors in terms of the taxation system, cutting off investment from some large foreign companies that choose the country as a springboard into Eastern markets. The amended profit tax base is one of the main obstacles preventing the flow of new foreign capital into Lithuania, lawyers and tax consultants warn. "Lithuania's attractiveness for capital has diminished considerably. The number of new changes related with the taxation of dividends and transfer of stakes is rather significant. We, as tax consultants, notice that the same Swiss, Dutch, who  previously considered Lithuania being attractive and suitable for certain regional structures, are now erasing us from that list," Kestutis Lisauskas, an Ernst & Young Baltic tax partner, said during the foreign investors forum on Feb. 20. The decline in competitiveness resulted mostly from changes in the profit tax base, not raising the profit tax rate, he said. Moreover, the taxation of workforce in the country remained one of the highest in the region, Lisauskas added.

Lithuanian Defense Minister Rasa Jukneviciene has said that military training lasting a few weeks, which is currently under discussion, could be optional for women but mandatory for men. Ministry spokeswoman Danguole Bickauskiene said the Defense Ministry and the Defense Staff are currently working on a concept for further development of the military mobilization system's active and passive reserve. The acting chief of the army's personnel administration division of the Training and Personnel Board, Lieutenant Colonel Viktoras Karsavinas, said that no restrictions have been applied over the independence period on women seeking a career in the military. At the end of January 2009, women made up 11.5 percent of the total number of professional troops and 10.5 percent of the total number of volunteer troops.