Former Minister of Economy, Social Democrat (LSDP) Birutė Vėsaitė and Aivaras Abromavičius, former Ukrainian Minister of Economic Development and Trade, now candidate for the Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats (TS-LKD), were featured in a live Delfi Balsuok 2016 debate on September 30. The main topic of the evening was economics and future plans in Seimas.
Aivaras Abromavičius and Birutė Vėsaitė
© DELFI / Domantas Pipas

Both politicians expressed interest in similar spheres, with Vėsaitė pointing out interest in resuming control of the Ministry of Economy, while Abromavičius was less specific, pointing out that he is most interested in managing state capital enterprises. To note he is also seen as a potential member of the TS-LKD shadow cabinet, possibly as a Minister of Economy or Minister of Transport and Communications.

Abromavičius noted that he finds the governing of the Lithuanian Railways company to lack transparency, with too many public officials being part of top tier management. He observes that this is a trend he would like to see reversed.

When discussing the new Labour Code, both politicians admitted it is lacking. Vėsaitė was more positive, while she admitted it is overly flexible and lacks certain safeguards for employees, the LSDP politician drew a very positive future for the code, with plans to continue making amendments even during what is left of the current Seimas term. The TS-LKD candidate conceded that a new Labour Code is needed, but concurs with the President, who opted to veto the code. He noted that the code fails to protect the most vulnerable social groups and needed amending before it was passed.

Abromavičius’ term heading the Ukrainian Ministry of Economic Development and Trade was also a discussion topic. He stressed that the Ukrainian cabinet had to challenge a literal budgetary war zone after a 25 year long reform drought and Russian aggression, both economic and military. The politician was confident in the success of his term, noting that this year the Ukrainian economy has started growing again, despite contrary opinions from analysts and international organisations, furthermore Ukraine no longer purchases gas from Russia.

On taxation, the Conservative noted that he does not feel like Lithuania is in a position to lower taxes, but conceded that he will follow the party programme, which focuses on not implementing any further taxes or tax breaks.

Both politicians spoke against implementing a tax on automobiles, seeing them not as a matter of prestige or luxury, but as a work tool.

Vėsaitė expressed support for progressive taxation and noted that she would like to see the Ministry of Energy and the Ministry of Economy merged as the Ministry of Economy has thus far been left managing just tourism. She also noted that she finds supermarket chains in Lithuania to be too influential and noted that a niche needs to be formed for small business to enter.

When asked how much an individual should earn so as to not consider emigrating, Abromavičius started by noting that it is not just a question of income, but stressed that income inequality is a major issue and concluded that currently the best option available is to work toward a 10% wage rise. B. Vėsaitė responded to the same question by noting that first it is important to ensure job availability, then to maximise wages, while also embracing modern technologies.

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