Members of Investors’ Forum started this year with a meeting with Virginijus Sinkevicius, the Minister of Economy. The Minister reviewed his work in 2017, presented strategic directions of this year and answered participants‘ questions. As a top priority, he highlighted efforts to reduce shortage of workforce, helping enterprises to receive European Union (EU) financial support and convenient connections with the major capitals of Europe.

‘Economy is made by people, so we have to create conditions for people to make it. One of our short-term goals is to strengthen the Migration Department to make the employment of foreigners faster, easier and more transparent. The white list of companies is already a huge step forward. My ambition is to have it updated quarterly.

However, the shortage of workforce is a complex problem, so we need to look at it more broadly. It is necessary to reform the education system, facilitate employees‘ re-qualification, especially in the regions, as well as to help businesses to benefit from financial support and invest in innovations,’ says V. Sinkevicius.

He also assured that various ways to reduce labor taxation are being sought in order to develop high-value-added sectors and attract talented people to Lithuania. Another important issue for investors is EU financial support.

‘Currently, EU investment funds are reaching companies in Lithuania too slowly, so we are trying to solve this problem. We are introducing a new system for evaluation the performance of EU funds administrating institutions, and we are considering ways how we can help companies fill in applications.

We would also like to have research and development funding under the Ministry of Economy – said V. Sinkevicius.

The minister also provided an update on the issue regarding direct business flights to major European cities. V. Sinkevicius emphasized that convenient transportation would help to attract new foreign investments and improve export opportunities. According to him, together with the Ministry of Transport they are currently seeking legal solutions to this problem and has already contacted Brussels on the possibility of direct flights to London, Paris and Munich. Brussels‘ decision should be announced this autumn.

Alcohol advertising restrictions have also received a lot of attention. Lithuania is the only country in the EU to apply full alcohol advertising restrictions, which is why it is compulsory to remove all alcohol ads from publications from other European countries.

Nevertheless, consumers are not content when they receive magazines with pages which have been torn, and return them. As a result, distributors may soon be forced to distribute press from only a few countries which apply the same restrictions, for instance, Russia. The Minister agreed that this problem requires a solution, and promised to raise this issue in the government.

‘Virginijus Sinkevičius is a young and energetic minister. Many areas – for example, reducing labor taxation, attracting talent, privatizing state-owned enterprises, and EU financial support – require a new, progressive and courageous approach. We wish success and determination in solving these important issues so we can all live and work in a more advanced and wealthier country,‘ notes Rolandas Valiūnas, Chairman of the Board of Investors’ Forum.