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GRYBAUSKAITE URGES ENERGY MIN TO CURB BIOFUEL MONOPOLISTS

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

After the meeting with Minister of Energy Jaroslav Neverovic President Dalia Grybauskaite said that fast and immediate decisions were necessary for current situation in biofuel market.

Presidential representative Daiva Ulbinaite quoting Grybauskaite's position says that as buefuel consumption keeps expanding and recently biofuel exchange has started to operate, it turned out that it actually does not work because the legal framework is clearly unregulated. There are no control mechanisms for purchase of this fuel. This allows unfair heat suppliers to abuse biofuel purchase and execute it without any public procurement.

It is estimated that biofuel is three times cheaper than imported gas.

"However, the consumers do not feel tangible benefits, at the end of the day the price is very similar in the places where biofuel is used and where gas is consumed. Since there is no clear procedure and control mechanism price of equally the same biofuel varies throughout municipalities, in some cases the difference in price is more than double," says Ulbinaite.

GRYBAUSKAITE SIGNS BOOK OF CONDOLENCE FOR MARGARET THATCHER

Vilnius: President Dalia Grybauskaite signed the book of condolences for Margaret Thatcher at the British embassy in Vilnius, presidential press service said.

"Strong personalities fascinate us with their ability to take responsibility for the nation and for the reform process during historically difficult times. Margaret Thatcher spoke out for the independence of the Baltic States and supported us in the Cold War years. She was a symbol of independence to all of us. Forceful and dynamic, always expressing her own opinion and speaking her mind, Margaret Thatcher wielded huge influence on Britain's future by introducing a model of modern economy. Her contribution on the international stage was also very special as she never failed to stand by small occupied states. Such people captivate and educate us. The world needs such people at every step of its history," the President said.

DEFMIN OF POLAND TO VISIT LITHUANIA

Vilnius: On April 11 Minister of Defence of Poland Tomasz Siemoniak will be paying a visit to Lithuania, the guest will meet with Minister of National Defence Juozas Olekas, Lithuanian Ministry of Defence said.

At the meeting the Ministers are planned to discuss formation of the joint Lithuanian, Polish and Ukrainian Brigade LITPOLUKRBRIG, military exercises scheduled for 2013, NATO's Air Policing mission in the Baltic States, and Lithuania's Presidency of the Council of the European Union. The meeting is expected to be concluded by signing a Memorandum of Agreement regarding cooperation between the Lithuanian and the Polish Special Operations Forces (SOF).

Military cooperation between the Lithuanian and the Polish Armed Forces has been developed since 2001. In 2006 the Polish SOF personnel were deployed to a Lithuanian-hosted multinational SOF exercise Shamrock Key. Since 2 (ISAF) operation in the south of Afghanistan. From 2007 to 2008 Lithuanian and Polish SOF personnel were deployed to Kandahar and completed several joint operations successfully.

Bilateral defence cooperation of Lithuania and Poland is among the key areas of strengthening defence and security of our country. Last visit of the Minister of Defence of Poland to Lithuania took place in 2010.

Defence cooperation with Poland is essential to the security of both - Lithuania and the region on the whole. Lithuania has been developing intense relations with Poland in military sector since 1993.

Poland is one of the most active participants of the Baltic Air Policing mission. The country deployed its air assets and air crews to the NATO Air Policing mission in the Baltic States conducted from the Siauliai Air Base in 2005, 2008, 2010 and 2012.

Lithuania and Poland also cooperate intensely by sending military personnel to multinational exercises held in each other's territory (e.g., Jackal Stone, Baltic Host, Maple Arch, BALTOPS, etc.). In 2013 Lithuania and Poland will co-host one of the largest NATO's Article 5 exercise Steadfast Jazz.

The cooperation between the Lithuanian and the Polish Armed Forces is developed across various levels of staffs, military education institutions and military units on a permanent basis.

Lithuania and Poland along with Ukraine are continuing the establishment procedures of the joint Brigade LITPOLUKRBRIG that were launched in 2009. Upon the completion of the project the trilateral Brigade is expected to become a critical instrument for defence cooperation in the region.

Since 2003 Lithuania has been taking part in the activity of the NATO Multinational Corps Northeast (MNC NE) based in Poland (by delegating staff officers).

LITHUANIAN FINANCIAL ASSETS GROW 4 PCT IN Q4

Vilnius: In the fourth quarter of 2012, the annual growth rate of Lithuania's financial assets (four percent) exceeded that of liabilities (three percent), the Bank of Lithuania said in a statement.

In the fourth quarter 2011, the said growth rates accounted for seven and six percent, respectively. Net acquisition of financial assets and net incurrence of liabilities in all sectors, except for non-financial corporations, was positive.

At the end of the fourth quarter of 2012, financial assets totalled LTL 356.9 billion (EUR 103.3 billion).

The main investment positions of financial assets were loans (25 percent), shares (25 percent), and deposits (21 percent).

At the end of the fourth quarter, Lithuania's liabilities totalled LTL 421.4 billion (EUR 122 billion). Loans and debt securities accounted for more than the one third (35 percent) of total liabilities.

At the end of the fourth quarter, the largest amount of financial assets was accumulated in the financial corporations sector. Liabilities were predominant in non-financial corporations.

IN 2008-2012 AVERAGE HOURLY LABOUR COSTS DOWN ONLY IN LITHUANIA

Luxemburg: According to the statistical office of the European Union, hourly labour costs in Lithuania stand at EUR 5.8. In 2008 - 2012 it fell only in Lithuania by 1.4 percent and grew in all the other EU countries.

In 2012, average hourly labour costs in the whole economy (excluding agriculture and public administration) were estimated to be EUR 23.4 in the EU and EUR 28.0 in the euro area (EA17). However, this average masks significant differences between EU Member States, with hourly labour costs ranging from EUR 3.7 in Bulgaria, EUR 4.4 in Romania, EUR 5.8 in Lithuania and EUR 6.0 in Latvia, to EUR 39.0 in Sweden, EUR 38.1 in Denmark, EUR 37.2 in Belgium, EUR 34.6 in Luxembourg and EUR 34.2 in France.

Between 2008 and 2012, hourly labour costs in the whole economy expressed in euro have risen by 8.6 percent in the EU and by 8.7 percent in the euro area. Within the euro area, the largest increases were recorded in Austria (+15.5 percent), Slovakia (+13.8 percent), Finland (+13.7 percent) and Belgium (+13.1 percent), and the smallest in Portugal (+0.4 percent) and Ireland (+0.8 percent). The only decrease was observed in Greece (-11.2 percent).

For Member States outside the euro area, and expressed in national currency, the largest increases in hourly labour costs in the whole economy between 2008 and 2012 were registered in Bulgaria (+42.6 percent) and Romania (+26.7 percent), and the smallest in Latvia (+1.3 percent) and the United Kingdom (+5.2 percent). The only decrease was observed in Lithuania (-1.4 percent).

LITHUANIAN NEWSPAPERS on Thursday, April 11

Reviewed by ELTA News Agency

POLITICS

Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevicius says that the current Government is innovative and he does not understand why it is being criticized for establishing working groups. The PM says that during the same period the former Government had almost twice more of working groups - 50. "I cannot image how one can prepare a draft law without having set up a working group. During the same period of time mister Andrius Kubilius had 50 working groups, while the current Government - only 27," says Butkevicius. "Let's be modern but not out-of date," says the PM. RESPUBLIKA

A number of higher education institutions has grown four time, the number of students has skyrocketed tree times and Lithuania is at the eight place in the European Union according to the number of people who have higher education degree and the fourth place in the youth unemployment ranking. These are Lithuania's accomplishments in the field of higher education after the years of Independence. RESPUBLIKA

"Universities are not smithies for installers of tiles, thus it is strange when people say that there is such a big number of graduates registered at the Labour Exchange and no one employs them because they know nothing. It is not the mission of universities to teach them a trade. Universities have to carry out a mission of higher education, to develop intellectuals not craftsmen. Craftsmen are necessary but other institutions are training them," said Professor of Siauliai University, Faculty of Education, and Department of Education Vincentas Lamanauskas. There is a growing number of specialists with higher education diploma but their competence does not reflect labour market demands, says Academic Economist Antanas Buracas. "I think the Ministry of Education and Science does not perform its main function. Firstly, it should follow the professional need of a country instead of thinking that free market will take care of everything. Currently, all they have to do is to divid

e study baskets according to the formal criteria. It is the most primitive way that does not require a lot of thinking," says Buracas. RESPUBLIKA

ECONOMY SECTOR

Minister of Social Security and Labour Algimanta Pabedinskiene proposes the Government to ensure financial social support only for people who really need it. Also measures to encourage people to work instead of live on benefits were suggested. "Financial social support - social benefits and refunds - should help a person at the time when such aid is necessary but it should not prevent people from looking for opportunities to earn their own living. The new order of financial support allocation provides means to encourage people to get involved in the labour market. It will also prevent form potential cases of support abuse," said the minister. RESPUBLIKA

EVENTS IN LITHUANIA

to take place on Thursday, April 11

--Seimas Speaker Vydas Gedvilas:

-- -- to take part in a live show on the radio Znad Wilii (8:00);

-- -- to chair plenary sitting (10:00);

-- -- to attend the opening ceremony of Obstetrics and Surgery Section at Vilnius University Hospital (14:00).

-- Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevicius:

-- -- to give interview on the radio Ziniu Radijas (8:05);

-- -- to attend the Government Hour at the Seimas (13:00);

-- -- to attend the opening ceremony of Obstetrics and Surgery Section at Vilnius University Hospital (14:00).

-- -- to meet with community of Vilnius University Faculty of Law (16:00);

DEFENCE

-- Minister of Defence of Poland Tomasz Siemoniak will be paying a visit to Lithuania, the guest will meet with Minister of National Defence Juozas Olekas, Lithuanian Ministry of Defence said.

-- END.

INTEGRATION OF LATVIAN PUBLIC CANNOT REMAIN ON POLITICAL RHETORIC LEVEL - LATVIAN PRESIDENT

Riga: Today, President Andris Berzins met with the chairman of the Latvian Public Integration Fund, Andris Ravins, and the director of the fund's secretariat, Aija Bauere, to talk about ways of dealing with public integration issues by ensuring coordinated activities among national governance institutions and local governments, LETA was informed by the Presidential Press Service.

At the beginning of the meeting, the representatives of the Public Integration Fund insisted that it is the most important government institution in terms of dealing with issues that are of importance to the public. The fund links the policies of various ministries into a unified system, keeping in mind the interests of the non-governmental sector and the needs of less protected groups in society.

They also told the president about the fund financing and its sources, as well as about projects it is pursuing. Ravins and Bauere insisted that the fund is working on strengthening national, regional and social integration in Latvia.

Meanwhile, Berzins emphasized the fact that public integration is an issue which cannot remain only at the level of political rhetoric. It is precisely for that reason, he said, that it is important to plan processes which can be implemented, adding that yes, there is a need for sufficient financing in this area. The representatives of the Public Integration Fund noted that local governments, non-governmental organizations, and Latvian residents who live abroad must be involved in the search for solutions to existing problems, particularly in terms of increasing links between young people and the Latvian state. They added that it is also of essential importance to evaluate the results of previous projects - something which the fund is already trying to do.

The meeting also focused on other factors that are of key importance in terms of public integration. First of all, there must be ways of increasing and facilitating economic development, particularly in terms of the ability of young people to find their first jobs. Civil society must be strengthened and developed, and links between Latvian emigres and Latvia must be strengthened. The representatives of the Public Integration Fund noted that there were many ideas about social consolidation in the wake of the referendum on two state languages, but because of the approved budget of the institution, none of these could be pursued.

President Berzins and his guests discussed resources for Latvian language teaching programs, as well as financing for projects aimed at reducing radicalism among young people. They talked over methods to eliminate the use of political slogans and attributes during events meant to commemorate war veterans or during various celebrations. The participants in the meeting also agreed that to establish a unified communications space in Latvia.

The president called on the Public Integration Fund to continue its work in the area of non-citizens. He noted that this would make it possible to avoid various harsh confrontations. Representatives of the fund were invited by the President to take active part in the work of his Minorities Consulting Council so as to ensure that the views of minority organizations can be taken into account when decisions are made.

HIGH RANKING OFFICIAL FROM VATICAN TO VISIT LATVIA IN MAY

Riga: From May 19 to 23, Kurt Koch, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, will be on a visit to Latvia, according to information available on the official web-site of the Roman Catholic Church in Latvia.

According to the Roman Catholic Church of Latvia, the aim of the visit will be to get acquainted with ecumenical traditions in Latvia, create a direct dialogue with the leaders of traditional Christian faiths in the country, as well as discuss issues related to cooperation between the church and the state.

During his visit to Latvia, Koch will visit various Christian education establishments, and participate in several conferences and events.

The Roman Catholic Church in Latvia points out that Koch will be the highest ranking Vatican official to visit Latvia since Pope John Paul II visited in 1993.

One of the main aims of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity is to develop a dialogue and collaboration with the other churches and world communions.

BALTIC COUNTRIES MUST ESTABLISH JOINT VENTURE FOR IMPLEMENTATION OF RAIL BALTICA PROJECT - LATVIAN MEP

Riga: In order to begin implementation of the high-speed railroad project Rail Baltica as soon as possible, and have the European Union cover up to 85 percent of the project cost, it is important that the Baltic transport ministers reach agreement, already during their meeting in Riga tomorrow, on the establishment of a joint venture for implementing the project, believes European Parliament member Roberts Zile (All For Latvia!-For Fatherland And Freedom/LNNK).

Speaking at a conference on Rail Baltica in the European Parliament in Brussels yesterday, Zile said that, politically, the time was right for making the crucial decisions on further progress of Rail Baltica, European Conservatives and Reformists group's spokesman Rolands Petersons told LETA.

EU government leaders' recent agreement on the next EU multiannual budget, which is yet to be endorsed by the European Parliament, stipulates that funds from the Cohesion Fund may also be used for the Connecting Europe Facility projects - EUR 10 billion in total. This money may be used to cover up to 85 percent of a given project's costs, which for Latvia is the only viable option to have the Rail Baltica railroad built, connecting the country to the rest of the EU, said Zile.

"If the Baltic countries do not take crucial steps for implementation of Rail Baltica already now, that is, if they do not draw up a real project to be handed in to the European Commission, the current positive attitude toward Rail Baltica may change by 2015-2016," said Zile. By that time, there may be other projects pending, competing with Rail Baltica, including the East-West railroad electrification project. In that case, the question will arise if there is money for implementation of the Rail Baltica project in the given financial perspective.

"Furthermore - will there be an owner interested, and competent enough, in implementing the project. It has to be taken into account that, for instance, "Latvijas dzelzcels" railroad company, which is interested in the East-West railroad electrification project, has the necessary resources and a lobby of the associated business groups, as well as a functioning and profitable business. The Rail Baltica project, which currently does not even have a management team in place, will find it hard to compete with "Latvijas dzelzcels". That is why I hope that Baltic transport ministers, during their meeting in Riga on Thursday, will reach agreement on establishing a joint venture for the development and implementation of the Rail Baltica project," emphasized Zile.

The conference, organized by the Finland-based Rail Baltica Growth Corridor, Helsinki City Council and Finnish MEP Petri Sarvamaa, was attended by representatives from the European Commission, government and municipal representatives from the Baltic countries, Finland, Poland Austria and Germany, as well as several European Parliament members and experts involved in the Rail Baltica project.

Baltic transport ministers' annual meeting will be held in Riga tomorrow, April 11, where the main topic will be the Rail Baltica project.

ESTONIAN PRESIDENT ATTENDS DIGITAL CONFERENCE IN PARIS

Tallinn: Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves departs on Wednesday for Paris, where he will give an opening address at the representative international conference World Digital Summit, a top level digital business meeting, which is to start tomorrow and will bring together top level information technology sector entrepreneurs from all over Europe, the President's chancellery said.

On Friday, the president will give a presentation at the influential French think tank, Académie Diplomatique Internationale, where he will speak about global cyber threats and the cyber defence experiences of Estonia.

President Ilves will pay a visit to the French Parliament to meet Claude Bartolone, President of the National Assembly of France; the meeting will focus on the future of the European Union and the euro area. Bilateral relations between Estonia and France will also be discussed.

The president will also meet, at a round table meeting organised by the Estonian embassy in Paris, with the French cyber elite, consisting of influential politicians, high level officials and representatives of large companies, to discuss long-term cyber co-operation between Estonia and France.

RAPID ECONOMIC ADJUSTMENT HELPS PREVENT REFORM FATIGUE - ESTONIA'S CENTRAL BANK

Tallinn: Ardo Hansson, Governor of Estonia's central bank Eesti Pank, said on Wednesday, comparing the economic adjustment made in the Baltic States with that in Greece, Ireland and Portugal, that rapid economic adjustment helped prevent reform fatigue, the build-up of excessive debt and the economic damage caused by a prolonged period of uncertainty.

Hansson presented an analysis he had written with Martti Randveer, Head of the Economics and Research Department at Eesti Pank, comparing the way that Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania adjusted after the economic crisis with the way that Ireland, Greece and Portugal did.

He explained that the results of the research show that the three Baltic states stand out in international comparison after the global financial crisis for the speed of their economic adjustment and that they have regained the majority of the total output that was lost during the crisis. The three states have also managed to lower unemployment and reduce several pre-existing imbalances and vulnerabilities.

He added that the research revealed several similarities in economic developments between the Baltic states and Ireland, Greece and Portugal, but it had shown several major differences too. "The economic adjustment in the Baltic states was twice as fast as that in Ireland, Greece and Portugal. The main reason for this was the difference in the ability of the six countries to mitigate the impact of the sudden stop in private sector capital flows that happened in 2007-2009", he said.

The research identified that the drawbacks to the rapid adjustment were the risk of costly excess volatility, political difficulties and the likelihood of mistakes in economic policy. On the other hand, rapid adjustment helps in avoiding reform fatigue, the build-up of excessive debt and a long period of uncertainty weighing on economic activity. In addition, a rapid adjustment helps to bring about a faster closure of unsustainable activities, making resources available for productive means elsewhere in the economy.

"The current evidence of the recovery of the economies suggests that the strategy of rapid adjustment has overall been a successful response to a very difficult situation in the Baltic economies. Our analysis shows clearly that any build-up of imbalances and vulnerabilities should be addressed early and decisively as adjustment afterwards through wages and prices is likely to be protracted and painful", explained Hansson.

He added that the current financial and sovereign distress in the euro area also offers proof that a strong external anchor in the form of membership of a currency union cannot be a substitute for policy discipline in other areas, but that, on the contrary, it increases the need for stronger discipline in other economic policies.

LETA

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/asianet/130412/grybauskaite-urges-energy-min-curb-biofuel-monopolists