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Sigitas Leonavičius: Lithuanian and foreign businesses should have the same conditions

Sigitas Leonavičius: Lietuvos ir užsienio verslui turėtų būti tokios pačios sąlygos

Currently, double standards are applied to business in Lithuania, as better conditions are created for foreign companies than for local companies, says Sigitas Leonavičius, president of the Vilnius Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Crafts (VPPAR). According to him, the arrival of the German military industry giant "Rheinmetall" in Lithuania shows that the institutions are ready to listen only to the complaints of foreign companies.

"We would really like the conditions to be the same in the state, just like traffic rules, no matter who is driving. Because in Lithuania today, after 34 years of living in an independent country, there are double standards", said S. Leonavičius during the general assembly of the Vilnius Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Crafts.

"One example is the arrival of Rheinmetall. When a strategically important business comes from abroad, suddenly the Government and the Seimas realize that the conditions for the companies are bad. And then they attack to change the laws. We would like you to accept it as a precedent and make such conditions for all Lithuanian businesses", he addressed the representatives of the Seimas parties gathered for the discussion.

According to the president of VPPAR, Lithuanian business has been talking for a long time about the fact that the coordination of project permits takes several years. According to him, if the conditions are made easier for Lithuanian businesses, their investments would also increase.

"Our politicians and government representatives saw when the foreign capital company was ready to come, what kind of system is created and what are its obstacles. Local businesses talk about it from term to term. The fact that he saw and heard is very good. But our request is that those obstacles are also removed for local businesses," he said to Elta.

S. Leonavičius hopes that the discussion with representatives of Seimas parties during the VPPAR general assembly can be the basis for closer cooperation between business and politicians.

"What the politicians said during today's discussion is that they see how in other countries they see how the Government delegations communicate with business, represent business," said S. Leonavičius.

"I think it was a good opportunity to show that we can hear each other and point out mistakes. Because correcting mistakes is human, but until you don't communicate, you don't know what you're doing wrong," he added.

Institutions could better communicate with and learn from business

S. Leonavičius also noticed when institutions, before making decisions, often consult only the representatives of a couple of associations, so they do not always take into account the opinion of the entire business community. According to him, the business council operating under the Seimas could contribute to reducing this gap.

"When the Government gathers to make decisions and says that it has consulted with business, we see on TV screens and in the press that it has consulted with 3 out of 54 associations. This is not a discussion with business", said S. Leonavičius.

"Our proposal is to have a business council at the Seimas. Not from one or two or even four selected organizations, but from all those currently on the register. And they would have the right to communicate, share and make decisions," he explained.

The president of VPPAR also hinted that there are questions about the government's attitude towards the received funds. According to him, there is currently a lot of discussion about what taxes are needed to finance the needs, but no thought is given to how savings can be made.

"Whether it's a family or a business, expenses are usually justified by income. But politicians or even the current government, it seems to me, do not focus on how much income we have and what we can afford. And they want extra income all the time," he explained.

"You have to save in one place to spend elsewhere. You can't spend everything and run to borrow. Sometimes you may need to borrow, but only when there are priorities. It would like the Government to think more like business," he added.

In his opinion, the money available to the state is not always used efficiently and economically.

ELTA reminds that at the end of April, the Seimas approved the changes to the laws that would allow large defense industry companies to start developing projects in Lithuania faster. After the law comes into force, these manufacturers will be able to start developing projects without obtaining building permits. Project promoters will have to obtain these permits before the end of construction.

The Minister of Economy and Innovation, Aušrinė Armonaitė, previously stated that the amendments are aimed at speeding up the establishment of the German manufacturer Rheinmetall, which intends to build an artillery projectile factory in Lithuania.

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