Vilnius - Lithuania's former president Algirdas Brazauskas said the Royal Palace will not be completed by July 6 unless the government grants an additional 20 million litas in funding.
Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius said the government will not provide extra money but will make 44 million litas, already slated for the Royal Palace this year, available earlier.
President Valdas Adamkus has called for a faster decision on additional funding to avoid turmoil in inviting foreign guests to Lithuania's millennium celebrations, scheduled to take place at the palace in July.
"If there's a political consensus, there's money also. Now the majority of parties in the Seimas [Lithuanian parliament] do not think that additional money is necessary," said adviser to Kubilius, Ridas Jaseliunas.
Following a meeting with Adamkus, Kubilius told journalists he does not see such consensus any time soon, saying the government would grant 44 million litas as soon as possible.
"The government will say soon in a very simple manner that such funds will not be granted but will propose that the project contractors use the 44 million litas provided for in the budget by July 6, which, in my understanding, is intended for the whole year. We are willing to do everything to squeeze the allocation of the money into the first half of the year," said Kubilius.
Brazauskas, who currently heads the Royal Palace Rebuilding Commission, said without additional funding only one courtyard would be finished by July 6 's the anniversary of the coronation of Lithuania's first king Mindaugas.
Invitations to the ceremony at the Royal Palace have already been sent, so failure to finish the project on schedule would be very disappointing, said Brazauskas.
International monarchs and presidents are expected to attend the event as part of celebrations marking Lithuania's millennia year.
"If they do not grant the money, let them be, but there will be no Royal Palaceâ€¦It is the government and the Lithuanian president above all that need the Royal Palace because invitations [were] already sent out six months ago that provide for the opening of the Royal Palace. And if the administration and Kubilius do not care about it, it is their business. I am a little man here, a pensioner. I wanted to help with the Royal Palace project as much as I could, but it backfired on me," Brazauskas told the Baltic News Service.
Dainius Budrys, chairman of the Seimas Economy Committee, said 20 million litas was too much to ask, particularly during a time of crisis, and that the country has other priorities.
"There is enough money for the Royal Palace. During the crisis an additional 20 million [litas] is a big amount, especially when 44 million was already [included] in the budget to finish the palace. Such arguments, that we will be laughed at by the arriving honorable guests, including three royal families and seven presidents, are insufficient," said Budrys.
"We have Trakai castle, which can be an equally good place to arrange celebrations. We would be ridiculed if we had a huge state budget deficit and shiny Royal Palace roofs. Moreover, threats to stop construction are also groundless 's has anyone calculated how much it would cost to handle conservation works for an almost finished palace? Maybe that will need even more money. And [should] we grant them for the Royal Palace instead of, for instance, social security?" he told The Baltic Times.
Brazauskas said celebrations may now have to be arranged elsewhere. He said that official estimates, proving 20 million litas was really necessary, had been arranged by specialists.
"Brazauskas answers for his own words. Speaking about the estimate, he said before that it is not necessary, as that's a national object and it doesn't need estimates," said Jaseliunas. The State Audit Office is currently scrutinizing the operations of the Royal Palace, as part of an overall audit of the Millennium Program that also includes the Vilnius - European Capital of Culture 2009 project. The audit is expected to be completed in July.