Economy Fri, 16 Apr 2021 19:20:41 +0300 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb Bank of Lithuania allocates €16.6 million to state budget Bank of Lithuania allocates €16.6 million to state budget

On 8 April, the Bank of Lithuania transferred €16.63 million to the state budget from its 2020 profit. This is the largest amount allocated by the central bank since 2012.

Decisions on profit distribution are adopted by the Board of the Bank of Lithuania in accordance with the Republic of Lithuania Law on the Bank of Lithuania.

“Last year, as a result of COVID-19, not all euro area central banks managed to achieve positive profitability and thus contribute to the state budget. Being proud of the Bank of Lithuania’s investment performance in 2020, I would like to emphasise that this year we will further seek ways to boost the central bank’s financial capacity and, at the same time, its contributions to the national budget,” said Gediminas Šimkus, Chairman of the Board of the Bank of Lithuania.

Pursuant to the set of financial statements for 2020 approved by the Board of the Bank of Lithuania, the central bank’s profit in 2020 amounted to €24.64 million, compared to €25.44 million in 2019.
The Bank of Lithuania generates the bulk of its profit from management of financial assets, customer services as well as participation in the Eurosystem and monetary policy operations. The investment allocation method used by the Bank of Lithuania helped weather the storm that battered financial markets last year.

The Bank of Lithuania must submit its set of annual financial statements, accompanied by an auditor’s opinion, to the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania and make it public within four months after the end of each financial year.

Following the Republic of Lithuania Law on the Bank of Lithuania, the amount allocated to the state budget after the allocation of profit to the Bank of Lithuania’s reserve capital shall not exceed 70% of the calculated average of the Bank of Lithuania’s profit (loss) of the last three financial years. Contributions to the state budget shall be paid once a year, usually by 1 May.

In recent years, the share of funds allocated by the Bank of Lithuania to the national budget has been steadily growing.

The central bank’s contribution to the state budget in 2019 amounted to €13.8 million, in 2018 – to €12.7 million, while in 2017 – to €11.2 million.

In addition to the set of financial statements, the Board of the Bank of Lithuania has also approved the central bank’s Annual Report for 2020 as well as the Report on the Implementation of the Primary Objective of the Bank of Lithuania, the Situation of the Financial Market and Performance of the Bank’s functions.


]]> (Raimund) Economy Thu, 15 Apr 2021 12:37:03 +0300
The Minister of Transport and Communications: the European railway link Rail Baltica should have a direct access to Vilnius and Kaunas airports The Minister of Transport and Communications: the European railway link Rail Baltica should have a direct access to Vilnius and Kaunas airports

Minister of Transport and Communications Marius Skuodis initiates discussions on the connection of the Rail Baltica European railway link with Vilnius and Kaunas. Options to connect Vilnius and Kaunas airports with Rail Baltica were discussed during the Minister’s meeting with mayors of both cities and representatives of Lithuanian Railways and airports.

The objective of the Rail Baltica project is to connect three Baltic States’ capitals via the European railway network. According to the Minister of Transport and Communications, in order to maximise the European railway network potential and to offer the best and highest quality services to passengers and freight carriers, it is necessary to ensure that a European track gauge has a direct access to Vilnius and Kaunas airports instead of being constructed near them.

“With a European gauge, Lithuania will have a more convenient transport connection with the neighbouring Baltic States’ capitals and, additionally, a faster travelling option to the major Lithuanian cities. Many travellers moving between Kaunas and Vilnius already choose a train because of faster connection and convenience. Thus, we are to continue our discussions on what should be done with regards to the needs and expectations of the two cities and in order to ensure easier and more convenient trips to the airports by choosing trains as a sustainable and eco-friendly type of transport,” the Minister Skuodis said.

Currently, there are four potential Rail Baltica development location alternatives between Vilnius and Kaunas. The one that meets the connection needs the best and has the least environmental impact is to be selected this year.

The Minister stated that taking into account a long-term perspective of the project, it is necessary to find solutions of constructing the European track gauge with direct access to the airports, rather than near them. Considering potential Rail Baltica line options between Vilnius and Kaunas, as well as the airports’ development plans, this type of link has a great future potential. Moreover, it could generate additional passenger traffic.

At the initiative of the Ministry of Transport and Communications, remote meetings with the mayors of municipalities planning to have Rail Baltica tracks are to be held in April and May. These meetings are to focus on relevant issues and pressing matters of specific regional municipalities. Discussions will be open to the representatives of business communities.

Rail Baltica is a greenfield rail transport infrastructure project with a goal to integrate the Baltic States in the European rail network. 870 km of high-speed double-track electrified railway with 249 km/h speed trains is to cross Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. The project is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2026.


]]> (Raimund) Economy Wed, 14 Apr 2021 18:08:59 +0300
Lithuanian Airports expect traffic growth in Q2 as first quarter results are published Lithuanian Airports expect traffic growth in Q2 as first quarter results are published

Due to a complicated pandemic situation in the world, during the first quarter of this year, Lithuanian Airports recorded less flights, lower passengers flows and a reduced number of cargo transported by air compared to the last quarter of 2020. The stagnation recorded by Lithuanian Airports at the beginning of the first quarter of this year began to shrink already at the beginning of March – growth in both flights and passenger traffic was recorded.

According to Aurimas Stikliūnas, Head of Aviation Services at Lithuanian Airports, consistent recovery of the aviation sector and better results are expected to be achieved in the second quarter of this year, which is associated with the beginning of the summer season and accelerating, albeit slowly, global vaccination.

During the first three months of this year, all three airports of the country served 148 thousand passengers, which is 14% less compared to the last quarter last year. In the first quarter, 124 thousand passengers arrived to and departed from Vilnius, which is 1% less than in the said period last year, 19 thousand passengers arrived to and departed from Kaunas (46% less), and 5 thousand passengers arrived to and departed from Palanga (60% less).

In the first quarter, the number of flights in all airports reached 4.2 thousand – 23% less than in the last quarter last year. In Vilnius alone their number decreased by 18% to 3.1 thousand, in Kaunas – by 28% to 841, in Palanga – by 46% to 274. The most popular routes remained almost unchanged. Most passengers chose flights to the United Kingdom, Germany, Turkey, Ukraine, Poland, Belarus, Norway, Ireland, the Netherlands and Denmark.

“The beginning of this year can be identified as particularly difficult period for aviation because the challenges of the pandemic had not yet been controlled in many countries, vaccination processes have been accelerating slowly. National health safety requirements for travellers also varied and have been changing at every turn“, – said A. Stikliūnas.

The situation improved in March

According to A. Stikliūnas, people did not stop wanting to travel, and the desire to travel is growing rapidly.

“This is also shown by our research on travellers and growing actual flight and passenger indicators at the beginning of April. It is important that mass vaccination of people would be successfully carried out in Europe and that countries would gradually impose less strict travel restrictions. These are essential factors for market recovery in the second quarter of this year“, - says A. Stikliūnas.

According to the representative of Lithuanian Airports, March already confirmed these predictions – compared to February this year, the number of flights and passenger flows grew by 40% and 48%, respectively. In addition, in March, the number of offered seats on airplanes at Vilnius, Kaunas and Palanga airports was also 27% higher than in February.

“We all are in a new reality, in which we will live for a long time, and it is hard to say if there will soon come a day when the pandemic will simply go away. Therefore, we need to learn to live following safety requirements, to adapt and move forward“, – notes A. Stikliūnas.

At the beginning of the year, Lithuanian Airports took the necessary steps within the organisation in order to adapt to reduced passenger traffic and to ensure more efficient operation as well as to prepare for the recovery period. Therefore, already in May, airlines in Lithuania plan to operate nearly 70 direct routes, during the summer – at least 82 routes.

Less cargo was transported by air

During three months of this year, compared to the fourth quarter of 2020, the total amount of cargo carried by air in three airports decreased by 6% to 4.87 thousand tons.

This year, the biggest amount of cargo was transported by air at Vilnius Airport – 3.7 thousand tons. Compared to the last quarter of last year, amount of cargo decreased by 5%. In Kaunas, amount of cargo decreased by 10% to 1.14 thousand tons, and the amount of cargo transported by air through Palanga Airport increased to 20 tons.


]]> (Raimund) Economy Wed, 14 Apr 2021 10:03:17 +0300
Tighter self-isolation requirements for arrivals from Croatia and Turkey Tighter self-isolation requirements for arrivals from Croatia and Turkey

As of Monday, 12 April, tighter self-isolation requirements will apply for arrivals from Croatia and Turkey, and arrivals from Italy and Moldova will continue subject to the usual self-isolation requirements. The updated list of affected countries includes corrections in the requirements for carriers, travellers with past COVID-19 infection, service personnel in diplomatic missions and those arriving for humanitarian purposes.

Arriving crew members that transport passengers on international routes by all types of vehicles will be required to have a negative COVID-19 testing result if they stay in Lithuania longer than 72 hours. Those staying shorter than that will not be required, as before, to have a negative test result on the entry to Lithuania.

It may happen that instead of a planned shorter stay a person has to stay longer than 72 hours as a result of changes in the circumstances. In this case, they will be required to contact, within 24 hours of the arrival, the Coronavirus Hotline at 1808 or other establishment that performs coronavirus tests to book a testing appointment visit and take a test in due time.

The same requirements will apply in the case of other crew members employed in companies engaged in international commercial transportation or who carry out international commercial transportation by all types of vehicles and who travel for the purpose of work-related functions.

Please note that, as of Monday, the period of negative test exemption for travellers with past COVID-19 infection will be 180 days of the confirmation of the disease instead of the previous 90 days, which is twice as long.

Foreigners arriving in Lithuania by carrier transport for humanitarian reasons at the permission of the Ministry of the Interior will no longer be required to bring in the COVID-19 test, but they will have to take it in Lithuania. They will be required to book a testing appointment visit within 24 hours of the arrival. Those arriving for humanitarian reasons by their own transport will be required, as before, to take a test within 72 hours before the arrival or take it in Lithuania.


]]> (Raimund) Economy Tue, 13 Apr 2021 09:06:09 +0300
Lithuania enlists EMSA’s RPAS services to monitor ship emissions Lithuania enlists EMSA’s RPAS services to monitor ship emissions

In response to a request from the Environmental Protection Department of Lithuania’s Ministry of the Environment, EMSA is providing the country with Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) services to assist in monitoring ship emissions, protect the marine environment and improve maritime safety.

The services which began on 23 March will run for three months and will see EMSA RPAS being used to calculate the sulphur content of the fuel being used by the passing ships. Sensors on board the RPAS will measure the emissions from the exhaust plumes of vessels travelling in the main shipping lanes and when at anchorage around the Lithuanian port of Klaipeda. The sulphur content of marine fuel in this Sulphur Emission Control Area (SECA) should be no greater than 0.1%.

While great interest has been shown in the emissions monitoring capability of EMSA’s RPAS service, the Environmental Protection Department will also be working in collaboration with other Lithuanian authorities - including the Navy, MRCC and fisheries control services – to conduct other types of maritime surveillance missions.

The aircraft being used for this service is the Schiebel CAMCOPTER® S100 and it is under contract to EMSA via a consortium led by Nordic Unmanned AS. The model is a vertical take-off and landing drone and is fitted with gas sensors and cameras covering optical and infrared spectral ranges to better detect vessel plumes and conduct maritime surveillance as required.

All the information is transmitted in real-time to trained users through EMSA’s RPAS Data Centre. Records of the emission measurements are encoded automatically into the THETIS-EU information sharing system. This system is operated by EMSA to assist in the enforcement of the EU sulphur directive as well as to support port inspectors when targeting vessels to be inspected.

]]> (Raimund) Economy Mon, 12 Apr 2021 14:30:29 +0300
EU transport ministers call on the European Commission to revisit damaging Mobility Package provisions EU transport ministers call on the European Commission to revisit damaging Mobility Package provisions

Minister of Transport and Communications Marius Skuodis and transport ministers of eight European Union Member States appealed to European Commissioner for Transport Adina-Ioana Vălean with an official letter encouraging to resume discussions regarding the Mobility Package provisions. By this joint action the ministers responded to the Mobility Package impact assessment performed in late February this year and approved of its conclusions.

In the appeal, the ministers of Lithuania, Bulgaria, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Malta, Poland and Romania expressed their gratitude to the EC and Commissioner Vălean for continuous efforts in pursuing sustainable, smart and resilient European transport system. Despite welcoming constructive approach and leadership demonstrated by the Commission in performing the Mobility Package impact assessment, the ministers underlined the necessity to review its provisions relating to an obligation to return trucks to the country of registration every eight weeks and cabotage restrictions.

“Beside positive provisions of the Mobility Package intended to ensure the protection of drivers’ social standards and well-being, some provisions, unfortunately, are not in line with the European Green Deal’s ambitions and internal market principles. The European Commission concluded that the obligation of return of the truck every eight weeks may lead to additional 3 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions in 2023, which will in turn increase emissions by international road freight transport by 5 percent. Thus, we are encouraging to revisit and clarify the above-mentioned provisions of the package,” Minister Marius Skuodis said.

The letter to European Commissioner for Transport Adina-Ioana Vălean states that the solutions to be discussed with the EC, EU Member States and other stakeholders should materialise by February 2022, before the adoption of the Mobility Package provisions at hand.

In order to avoid any discrimination against the Lithuanian carriers, competition inequality, unreasonable and disproportional requirements creating competitive advantage to other countries’ carriers in the single European market, Lithuania has already brought actions to the European Court of Justice. This March Lithuania also joined other Member States’ actions brought to the European Court of Justice.

Poland and neighbouring Baltic States expressed their support with regards to the Lithuanian appeal.


]]> (Raimund) Economy Sat, 10 Apr 2021 14:30:15 +0300
Reserve funds for roads: focus on continuous projects and territories generating new jobs Reserve funds for roads: focus on continuous projects and territories generating new jobs

Based on the proposition by the Ministry of Transport and Communications, the Government distributed the financing reserve of the Road maintenance and development programme (RMDP) in the amount of EUR 19.3 million. Taking into account the Ministry’s next year’s plan to apply a new RMDP financing model, this year, the municipalities will be aided in completing their undergoing projects, therefore, the lion share of the reserve funds has been allocated to finance continuous road reconstruction projects. This year, the Ministry received applications for project financing from the RMDP reserve worth around EUR 108 million.

The RMDP reserve funding is first used to compensate expenses incurred due to urgent maintenance of secondary roads damaged during emergency situations or at risk of accidents. Eight projects in Kaunas city and Ukmergė region will be allocated EUR 458.7 thousand for the above purpose.

The largest portion of the reserve (almost EUR 18.9 million) is allocated for maintenance and reconstruction of national and secondary roads and streets, and construction of new road sections. These funds are distributed on the basis of applications submitted by municipalities and the State Enterprise Lithuanian Road Administration (LRA). A total of 24 continuous road projects are financed on the basis of 15 applications submitted by municipalities and the LRA. The RMDP reserve funds this year are being allocated at 77.2 percent intensity; thus, applicants will have to contribute their own funds while implementing projects.

“While distributing financing reserve under the Road maintenance and development programme we proposed focusing on all continuous road projects that had already received financing from the same reserve last year. This is our way of enabling municipalities to complete undergoing projects as next year we are planning to change the procedure of financing under this programme so that the reserve does not become another ‘investment programme’ causing dissatisfaction and tensions between municipalities due to abstract funding distribution criteria and expectations conflicting with actual financial capacities”, Minister Marius Skuodis said.

Out of EUR 18.9 million dedicated to continuous projects, almost a third (EUR 5.7 million) is being allocated to roads leading to territories generating new jobs. 6 such road projects are to be funded in total. Among them: construction of Vilnius city Logistikos street and roads connecting Rail Baltica with Vilnius public logistics centre (EUR 2.7 million), and major repair of regional road section Palemonas–Neveronys–Ramučiai, which is an important connection with Kaunas free economic zone (EUR 1.3 million).

The RMDP reserve forms 5 percent of the total programme budget. The lion share of the RMDP budget, i. e. 65 percent, goes to national roads (30 percent) and municipality-controlled secondary roads.


]]> (Raimund) Economy Fri, 09 Apr 2021 09:51:50 +0300
Vilnius approved a plan to give aid to restaurants and cafés Vilnius approved a plan to give aid to restaurants and cafés

Vilnius will help the catering industry that finds itself in a difficult situation due to the pandemic: a plan consisting of ten points was presented. Today the City Council approved the essential points: financial support without imposing charges for outdoor terraces, and compensations for the rent of municipal premises. This is a chance to promote faster recovery of the industry after the quarantine, to avoid business bankruptcies, and to help to safeguard jobs and activities in the city.

In addition to these financial measures, just like last year, great attention is paid to the use of public urban spaces for the operation of outdoor cafés. All the previous spaces in the Old Town have been assigned to this purpose, and new additional spaces are being sought because there is enormous interest in the industry.

“Last year, freedom granted to outdoor cafés in Vilnius inspired businesses and spread throughout the world, so this year we continue by offering new support measures. We understand that the municipality holds only a small part of the possibilities of the state’s involvement in the rescue of the industry, but in this difficult pandemic situation every aid measure is important,” said Remigijus Šimašius, Mayor of Vilnius.

Discussions about which streets of the Old Town should be closed this summer and assigned to pedestrians and outdoor cafés are in progress; last year, there were four such streets, and this year the number will likely be similar. Food trucks are given the same freedom as last year: they will be able to trade throughout the city, except for the Old Town.

Vilnius will also give aid to restaurants and cafés by extending their rent contracts for the corresponding quarantine period (no more than ten years). The Council of Vilnius City Municipality also reduced real estate and land taxes imposed on mass caterers (cafés, restaurants, bars) by 25% at the beginning of March 2021. Implementation of the idea of the immunity passport, which was introduced a week ago by the Mayor of Vilnius, could also become real aid to the catering industry.

During yesterday’s meeting of the municipality and restaurant representatives, it was agreed that Vilnius would appeal to the Government asking to speed up the granting of compensations to this industry. The possibility of creating new projects that would promote faster recovery of the industry after the quarantine was discussed as well.

Vilnius City Municipality will contribute almost EUR 1.2 million to the implementation of all these measures.


]]> (Raimund) Economy Thu, 08 Apr 2021 14:14:58 +0300
Palanga airport renovation and safe operation to require EUR 10.25 million Palanga airport renovation and safe operation to require EUR 10.25 million

In order to secure safe and uninterrupted operation of Palanga airport and to avoid flight restrictions due to its ageing infrastructure, EUR 10.25 million is to be invested into reconstruction of its runways, taxiways and platform. Today, on the basis of the Ministry of Transport and Communications proposition, the Government approved the decision to allocate this budget to the airport needs by temporarily reducing financing of other communication sector facilities.

“The area of aviation is likely the one most severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Convenient communication by air transport is an important national economic recovery factor. That is why we prioritise strengthening airport activities and securing safe and uninterrupted flights,” said Minister of Transport and Communication Marius Skuodis.

The infrastructure of Palanga International Airport needs to be renovated in order to ensure flight safety and safe aircraft movement in the aerodrome. Currently, the coating of the airport’s runways, taxiways and platform is damaged. There are cracks, its surface is uneven and lacks anti-skid properties. Lights, platform lighting and surface water collection systems need maintenance too. The reconstruction will improve the aspects of flight safety, environmental protection and will ensure compliance with international guidelines for airports.

A Latvian company A.C.B., who has won a contract tender, undertakes to perform all planned reconstruction works for EUR 13.6 million (excl. VAT). The State Enterprise Lithuanian Airports plans to receive funding for the remaining part from the Nordic Investment Bank loan, which the company already signed an agreement for.

During the reconstruction, the airport operation is to be suspended for 45 days. Preparatory works are scheduled to commence immediately, while main works are scheduled for September and October. It should be noted that the current decline in flight traffic due to the COVID-19 pandemic facilitates implementation of airport infrastructure development plans without causing any serious inconvenience.

Palanga airport runway was last reconstructed in 2007.

Last year, Palanga airport serviced 123,948 passengers, this year, their numbers should reach 137,251.

Palanga airport is one of the three Lithuanian airports in Vilnius, Kaunas and Palanga managed by the State Enterprise Lithuanian Airports.


]]> (Raimund) Economy Wed, 07 Apr 2021 18:12:34 +0300
PayRay Bank gets EU-backing to expand access to finance for Lithuanian SMEs PayRay Bank gets EU-backing to expand access to finance for Lithuanian SMEs

In order to support small and medium sized businesses in Lithuania, who are under strain from the COVID-pandemic, Lithuanian financial intermediary PayRay Bank has signed two guarantee agreements with the European Investment Fund. The two guarantees are made available under the European Guarantee Fund, an initiative of the EIB Group and EU Members States. In total, the operation will guarantee a portfolio of new SME financing by PayRay Bank for a maximum of €50 million.

Renato La Fianza, Director of PayRay Bank, commented: “The signed agreement opens new opportunities for Lithuanian companies, which until now were not able to benefit from the support, and thus strengthen the competitiveness of business. The EGF guarantee can cover a wide range of financing products: investment and working capital loans, factoring (account financing) and leasing, giving companies the flexibility to receive the support that best suits their needs and creates the most benefits. The measure also has fewer sectoral restrictions and the guarantee provides lower requirements for pledges. It is also important that not only a fast process of obtaining financing is planned, but also more favourable pricing due to the applicable guarantee.”

Alain Godard, Chief Executive of the EIF, added: “SMEs are under a lot of pressure throughout Europe. That’s why the EIB Group set up the European Guarantee Fund together with Member States, to quickly make available as much financing as possible for SMEs, who are the engines of our economies. We’re glad to partner with PayRay to bring EU-financing to final beneficiaries, showing that European financing can really make a difference.”

Vaida Česnulevičiūtė, Vice-Minister of Finance of the Republic of Lithuania, said: “We appreciate the confidence expressed by the European Investment Fund in the competencies and modern tools of Lithuanian companies in providing financial services. In the current context of economic uncertainty and ongoing quarantine across Europe, additional financing sources for small and medium-sized enterprises are vital. PayRay's leadership has led to the administration of a €50 million aid fund to help businesses recover from shocks and save jobs”.

Technically speaking, PayRay Bank has signed two guarantee agreements, one capped and one uncapped, to provide debt financing to SMEs on more favourable terms, ensuring that companies in have sufficient financing to mitigate the economic impacts of the COVID-19 crisis. Coming out of the current crisis, this will help Lithuanian SMEs to continue their growth and development in the medium to long-term.

The maximum loan amount guaranteed by the EGF is EUR 6 million. It is granted for a period between 3 months and 10 years. Lithuanian companies with up to 499 employees will be able to use portfolio guarantees issued by the EGF with immediate effect.

Background information:

The European Investment Fund (EIF) is part of the European Investment Bank Group. Its central mission is to support Europe's micro, small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) by helping them to access finance. EIF designs and develops venture and growth capital, guarantees and microfinance instruments which specifically target this market segment. In this role, EIF fosters EU objectives in support of innovation, research and development, entrepreneurship, growth, and employment.

The European Guarantee Fund (EGF) was set up by the EIB Group with contributions from Lithuania and other EU Member States to shield companies suffering from the COVID-19 crisis. Using nearly €25 billion in guarantees, the EGF allows the EIB and the EIF to quickly make loans, guarantees, asset-backed securities, equity and other financial instruments available to mostly small and medium-sized enterprises. The EGF is part of the European Union’s recovery package aiming to provide a total of €540 billion to boost those parts of the EU economy that have been hit the worst.

PayRay Bank is a neobank that provides financing services to businesses and accepts deposits from natural persons. The company provides business financing services in Lithuania and Latvia, and accepts deposits in Lithuania and Germany through the platform. In the first quarter of 2021, PayRay Bank’s credit portfolio, which includes corporate loans and factoring, has already exceeded EUR 52 million. The company currently provides financing services to more than 300 companies operating in different sectors. PayRay Bank has a share capital of EUR 36.4 million


]]> (Raimund) Economy Tue, 06 Apr 2021 21:57:38 +0300