Royal Palace project falls short

  • 2009-03-18
  • By TBT staff and wire reports

VILNIUS - Lithuania will have to find another 20 million litas (5.8 million euros) in order to complete the Royal Palace, which is the Millennium Celebrations most high-profile spectacle, in time for the July 6 grand opening, government spokesmen said.

The parliament and government will search for additional 18-20 million litas for the construction of the Royal Palace in Vilnius, which was commissioned by former President Algirdas Brazauskas to coincide with the 1,000 year anniversary of the country.
The interior of the building is not ready for guests. It reportedly has no furniture and hasn't had technical installations such as heating and lighting.

At a meeting at the President's Office, President Valdas Adamkus, patron of the Royal Palace, former president Algirdas Brazauskas, Parliamentary Speaker Arunas Valinskas, Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius, Finance Minister Algirdas Semeta and Culture Minister Remigijus Vilkaitis decided that the government and the parliament should consider the possibilities of coming up with the funds so that the palace could be opened in mid-summer.

Some 44 million litas has been put aside for the Royal Palace, but presidential spokeswoman Rita Grumadaite said the sum may be insufficient for fitting out the premises for honored guests 's including heads of states and kings 's for the planned opening of the facilities on July 6, 2009.

"The president called for an answer whether under these hardship conditions we could come up with the funds and hold a spectacular millennium celebration 's welcome top-ranking guests, open the (Royal) Palace for the public 's or openly admit that there will be no additional money and revise the scenario of the celebration to make it smaller and more economic," Grumadaite said.

The prime minister's spokesman, Ritas Jasiulionis, told The Baltic Times that Kubilius had disliked the project since the beginning, but now understands the need to work the problem out.
"The prime minister says we should come to one opinion in society and politics 's it could be that we don't need a big celebration, or we can celebrate modestly or that we can find 20 million litas," Jasiulionis said.
"In the near future, we will make proposals to the parliament on cutting the spending by approximately 2.7-3 billion litas. The budget will amount to 16-17 billion litas, so 18 million litas can be found. The question is whether the 18 million litas would become a broader consensus or trigger enormous quarrels and anger," Kubilius said.

Brazauskas, Lithuania's former president who heads the Royal Palace commission, said that the funds necessary for the Royal Palace could be allocated from privatization reserves rather than from the state budget.
At a press conference, Brazauskas was asked if he would like to fund the palace from his own money, given that he is among the country's richest and is the initiator of the project, but he simply replied by asking the journalist the same question.

Rebuilding the Royal Palace is among the largest cultural investment projects in the history of independent Lithuania, with 176 million litas already spent on the construction, acquisition of exhibits and administration.
The opening of the Royal Palace in central Vilnius is scheduled for July 2009 and is advertised as a highlight of the nationwide celebration commemorating 1,000 years since the first mention of Lithuania's name.
Destroyed 200 years ago, the Royal Palace of the Lower Castle of Vilnius is being rebuilt on the ruins discovered from 1987 to 2001.