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“New Generation Lithuania” – the Government Plan to Ensure a Breakthrough

Date

2021 04 16

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Today, Minister of Finance Gintarė Skaistė presenting the integrated draft plan “New Generation Lithuania” prepared by the Government said that the intensively prepared document will ensure the country’s breakthrough towards a more equitable, smarter and high added value generating country.

“When yesterday the Government announced good news about the release of quarantine, today we continue to talk about the future, only a longer six-year perspective, and we present a plan which we hope will help to achieve the expected economic breakthrough," said Minister of Finance. − The draft national plan − "New Generation Lithuania" is focused on accelerating high added value, digitalisation, green course, supply of better education, health and social services, and creation of a more equitable and more resilient country”.

The Economic Recovery and Resilience Facility proposed by the European Commission is the main component of the joint “Next Generation EU” instrument of €750 billion for economic recovery and preparation for future challenges, therefore the national integrated draft plan is called “New Generation Lithuania” in response to a common European context.

During the presentation the Minister of Finance pointed out that investments made by the European Commission Fund will contribute to many significant social and economic changes in Lithuania. At the same time, it was noted that this financial source is not the only important source for Lithuania.

“This financial source triggered a lot of interest, however such attention may constitute a misconception that it is the only one – which is certainly not the case. We will seek to implement ambitious commitments of the Government through both Structural Funds’ assistance and the State budget funds. The facility presented today amounts to around seventh of a total EUR 16 billion earmarked for progress. The specificity of this facility is that investments must be directly linked to reforms. Therefore, when it comes to the main changes, they are closely related to the recommendations of the Council of Europe which were recurrent for almost a decade, and the time has come to implement them," said the Minister.

The European Economic Recovery and Resilience Facility foresees  grants of EUR 2.225 billion for Lithuania which will be used for seven pillars, namely: green transition, digital transformation, health, social affairs, research and innovation, education, public governance. Green transition and digital transformation are priorities of the entire European Union, to which each Member State must allocate at least 37 % and 20 % of the Fund’s assistance, respectively. Other priorities identified in the draft plan “New Generation Lithuania” are related to the implementation of recommendations of the Council of Europe for Lithuania.

Expected voice of the public

During the presentation the Minister of Finance also revealed that in preparation of an integrated draft national plan, there has been active cooperation with the European Commission, experts, social and economic partners.

“Today we are presenting to the public the draft integrated national plan, the components of which on several occasions have been shown separately in various formats to institutions, non-governmental organisations, trade unions and employers. In preparing each part of the plan, we maintained close relations with the European Commission, had consultations, thus we can welcome the preliminary alignment of the plan. At the same time, we understand that the public also has a clear vision and its voice must be heard, so we invite to review the draft plan and participate in written consultations on e-citizen platform, thus contributing to the vision of “New Generation Lithuania”, – said Ms. G. Skaistė.

As noted by the Minister, written consultations will be available to the public by 26 April. In addition, individual ministries will additionally organise consultations with social and economic partners, where they will present the component parts updated following the comments of the European Commission. After all consultations, the final plan will then be submitted to the European Commission, which will have in two months to formally assess the plan and, if there are no comments, − will refer it to the Council for approval, which has one month for this procedure. Finally, the approval of the plan and start of investments may be expected in August, provided that all processes take place within the deadlines set.

“New Generation Lithuania” – milestones

In the field of renewable electricity production, in order to prepare for the construction of wind farms in the Baltic sea, investments in preparatory seabed and technical research will be made, it is planned to support business and population investments in solar and wind power plants.

In the field of sustainable transport, it is envisaged to expand the infrastructure network for electric vehicle charging and alternative refuelling stations. At the same time, financial incentives will be provided for public sector bodies and business to replace polluting vehicles, also public transport will be refurbished.

In the field of energy efficiency, a reform of the renovation of buildings will be implemented. The goal is 1,000 multi-apartment buildings to be renovated per year. 

Vice-Minister of Finance Vaida Česnulevičiūtė, who also participated in the event, stated that the next priority axis of the plan “New Generation Lithuania” was the enhancement of digitisation.

“Speaking about digitisation, we plan to strengthen the management of public IT projects by establishing a digital competence centre under the Government. Its task would be to systematically analyse all public sector investments in IT systems, databases, e-services in order to ensure the highest quality standards, interoperability, open data and other elements of centralised data management”.

According to the Vice-Minister, the main goal is to move from the system “document processing” to “data management”, and to integrate and centralise the entire decentralised system of registers and databases by ensuring automatic interfaces between the data held by different institutions. 

“The main aim will be to complete the reform of IT resources – to consolidate public systems, data centres and registers and to ensure the synergy between them, as well as to open data to science and society. At the same time, we will seek to create missing electronic public services of the government and municipalities, and to harmonise the level of services,” said the Vice-Minister.

In the field of digital innovation, it is planned to develop innovations in data and digitalisation technologies in business through artificial intelligence, blockchains and automation. A separate priority is given to the flagship initiative – digitisation of the Lithuanian language resources, which would allow local and foreign market products or services “to speak” in Lithuanian (e.g. smart home management systems, Amazon Alexa, Apple Siri).

In the field of education, it is planned to implement complex measures in general education with a view to improving students’ achievements and reducing the gap. The aim will be to optimise the school network by investing in the Millennium schools, also the investments will be designated to increase the attractiveness of vocational training.

In the field of science and innovation, it is planned to encourage the transformation of research and education institutions in such a way that the international competitiveness of studies in Lithuania, scope of scientific research and its quality would grow significantly. It is planned to improve the system of funding of studies and student enrolment by ensuring better compliance with labour market needs, to increase the efficiency of study quality assessment and to ensure systematic monitoring of R&D activities.

In the field of health, investments are planned to modernise infectious diseases cluster centres in 5 major cities, which will ensure accessible, high-quality infectious disease diagnostic and treatment services for the population, as well as safe working conditions for personnel. The reception units for 10 health institutions at regional level will also be modernised. This will ensure preparedness of the major hospitals of the country to effectively provide emergency medical services to a large number of patients at a time in the event of an emergency (chemical pollution, radioactive contamination, nuclear accident terrorism, epidemic of communicable diseases).

In the field of labour market and social inclusion, it is planned to create opportunities for jobseekers to learn and acquire high value-added qualifications and competences, as well as to subsidise job creation which contribute to the objectives of digital and green transformation. It is envisaged to subsidise job creation for persons affected by the operational changes of the company due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the field of efficiency of the public sector, it is planned to invest in the improvement of STI and Customs activities through the introduction of advanced IT technologies, as well as to encourage reduction of cash payments, to conduct financial education of the public in order to create opportunities for the reduction of VAT non-collection and shadow economy. The efficiency of the activities of civil servants will be increased – centralised management of human resources and managerial careers, investments in strategic competences.

We would like to point out that on 20 May 2020, in response to the economic and social consequences of COVID-19, the European Commission (EC) presented the Recovery and Resilience Facility which provides a unique opportunity not only to help the economy recover from the pandemic, but also to accelerate the structural transformation of the national economy towards creation of a higher added value. The preparation of the national plan “New Generation Lithuania” and its co-ordination with the EC is one of the Government priorities in the short term. 

For further information on the national draft plan “New Generation Lithuania”, please refer here.