Week in Lithuania | Lithuania bans very thin transparent plastic bags, Seimas adopts 2023 state budget - Baltic News Network

Linas Jegelevičius

The Interior Ministry says it will blacklist Ukrainian singer Loboda, Transportation Ministry’s plans on the Vilnius-Warsaw train service unveiled.

Ignitis Renewables to invest 300 million euros in Lithuanian wind farm project

Ignitis Renewables, an arm of Lithuania’s state-owned energy group Ignitis Grupė, announced on the 25th of November, it has bought an unnamed local company developing a wind farm with a capacity of up to 218 megawatts (MW) in the northwestern district of Plunge. The total preliminary investment, including acquisition and construction costs, amounts to around 300 million euros. Lithuanian media reported the object is Plunges Vejo Energija (Plunge Wind Energy), a company owned by Latvian and German investors.

Vilnius-Warsaw train service to be inaugurated in December

LTG Link, the passenger transportation arm of Lietuvos Geležinkeliai (Lithuanian Railways, LTG), announced that it is launching a regular train service between Vilnius and Warsaw on the 11th of December. Lithuanian Deputy Transport Minister Loreta Maskaliovienė expects to route to serve as a prelude to the opening of the Rail Baltica line. Operated in cooperation with Poland’s PKP Intercity, the international train route will provide a daily rail link both to the Polish capital and to the country’s second-largest city of Krakow.

The trip from Vilnius to Warsaw with a change in Mockava will take around nine hours.

President exhorts EU to target Russia’s energy sector

President Gitanas Nausėda on the 24th of November called on the European Commission to assess the impact of the EU’s sanctions against Russia, saying that they basically do not affect the country’s energy sector. In his words, the EU needs to adjust its course to put more pressure on Russia, which is continuing its invasion of Ukraine, Nausėda said at a joint news conference with Romanian President Klaus Iohannis in Vilnius.

Lithuania not satisfied with EU’s proposed gas price cap

Lithuania is not satisfied with the European Commission’s proposed price cap on wholesale natural gas, President Gitanas Nausėda said. Earlier this week, the EU’s executive body proposed a gas price cap of 275 euros per megawatt hour for month-ahead TTF contracts.

Lithuania bans very thin transparent plastic bags

Customers in Lithuania will have to pay for very thin transparent plastic bags, except those used to pack fresh meat or fish products. This follows the parliament Seimas’s decision on the 24th of November, banning them from handing out free of charge from July 2023. Retailers who will ignore the ban will face warnings or fines. The respective amendments to the Law on the Management of Packaging and Packaging Waste were adopted in a vote of 89 to four with 13 abstentions.

The authorities say the aim is to encourage people to think about whether they really need plastic bags and to replace them with cloth or paper ones.

Freedom Party MP Kasparas Adomaitis, one of the initiators of the ban, cited Eurostat figures showing that Lithuania was the country with the highest consumption of lightweight plastic carrier bags in Europe in 2020, at 249 per person.

Lithuania to blacklist Ukrainian singer Loboda popular in Russia

Ukrainian singer Svitlana Loboda, popular in Russia, who planned a concert tour in Lithuania’s major cities, will be added to Lithuania’s list of unwanted persons, Paulina Levickytė, spokeswoman for the Lithuanian foreign minister, said on the 23rd of November.

Reportedly, the singer is a citizen of Ukraine and currently lives in Latvia, so, unlike other Russian artists, she is not subject to the existing automatic bans on entry into Lithuania.

One of the most popular pop singers of recent years in Russia, Loboda had planned four concerts in Lithuania’s major cities of Panevėžys, Šiauliai, Klaipėda, and Vilnius, in late November and early December. Lithuania’s public broadcaster LRT reported that the singer has been actively performing in Russia since Russia’s occupation of Crimea.

MEP Jakeliūnas abstains, Uspaskich snubs EP’s Russia terrorism vote

The European Parliament declared Russia a state sponsor of terrorism, but Lithuanian MEP Viktor Uspaskich, the ex-chairman of the Labour Party, snubbed the vote, while MEP Stasys Jakeliūnas, representing the Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union, abstained. The remaining nine Lithuanian MEPs backed the EP decision. Jakeliūnas later posted on his Facebook account that Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin government are terrorists and war criminals, but he stressed that he did not agree that all Russian citizens should be named supporters of terrorism.

Lithuania reports 292 new COVID-19 cases, 2 deaths

Lithuania recorded 292 new coronavirus infections and two deaths from COVID-19 over Wednesday, 23rd of November. Of the new cases, 216 were primary, 70 were secondary and six were tertiary. The number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 now stands at 88, including seven ICU cases. The 14-day primary infection rate has edged up to 113,4 cases per 100,000 people, with the seven-day percentage of positive tests unchanged at 15,9 percent. More than 1,2 million people in Lithuania have tested positive for COVID-19 at least once.

Lithuania set to receive 50 more JLTVs

 Fifty more Joint Light Tactical Vehicles (JLTVs) are set to be delivered to Lithuania in the nearest time, National Defence Minister Arvydas Anušauskas said. In his words, most of the new incoming JLTVs will be equipped with the Common Remotely Operated Weapon Stations (CROWS) that will allow the shooter to operate the heavy 12,7mm machine gun from inside the armored vehicle. Lithuania expects the total number of its JLTVs to reach 500 by 2025 at the latest. Lithuania signed a 145-million-euro contract for 200 American JLTVs in November, 2019, but renewed it in October and increased the number of JLTVs it plans to buy Oshkosh Defence to 500. The deal’s final value will stand at around 334 million euros, with around 5 percent coming from US assistance funds.

Seimas adopts 2023 state budget

The Seimas of Lithuania on the 22nd of November, adopted the country’s state budget for 2023 following several hours of deliberations 73 MPs voted in favor budget, 43 were against and 6 abstained. The opposition criticized the budget, arguing that energy price compensation will be applied without taking people’s income and consumption into account. Opposition members were also unhappy about the fact that pensions and non-taxable were not raised enough. The general government deficit is projected at 4,9 percent of GDP, but the budget allows for the possibility to allocate up to 3 percent of GDP in additional funding for national defense through borrowing, provided that the overall budget deficit for the year stays within the planned target. The planned VAT relief has reduced budget revenue by 60 million euros to 15,544 billion euros, compared to the previous state budget version, while expenditure has remained unchanged at 18,629 billion euros, and the deficit has gone up by 60 million euros to almost 3,088 billion euros.

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