Lithuania's cabinet of ministers has endorsed a plan to address massive emigration which has been a drain on the country's population and labour force.

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© DELFI / Mindaugas Ažušilis

The plan, discussed by cabinet ministers on Wednesday, encompasses the period until 2023 and aims at removing social, economic and other push factors encouraging Lithuanians to leave, mostly for richer European Union countries where they can live and work without restriction.

Among other things, the plan envisages raising people's income to the level where it can ensure a decent standard of living for employees and their families. The government's plan also proposes raising the minimum wage and making sure that only unskilled workers are paid the minimum.

Government institutions would have to present quarterly reports about their progress implementing the plan.

Last year, Lithuania experienced the biggest population contraction among EU member states.

Lithuania's population continues to decline, and it reached 2,921,920 at the end of last year, according to Statistics Lithuania.

Emigration has increased, with 36,600 leaving in 2014 and 44,500 leaving in 2015. Reimigration has fallen from 19,500 in 2014 to 18,400 in 2015.

Immigration fell from 4,800 in 2014 to 3,700 in 2015. More people died than were born as well.

The Ministry of Interior indicated that the primary reason for emigration was economic wellbeing. Minister of Interior Tomas Žilinskas stressed that all institutions must work towards reducing emigration and giving those who have left a reason to return.

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