(VILNIUS) – Lithuania’s ruling parties and the government must urgently implement bold reforms to prevent people’s growing frustration, President Dalia Grybauskaite said in her state of nation address on Thursday.
Speaking to the parliament (Seimas), the president noted that after last year’s parliamentary elections, Lithuanian people’s expectations for awaited changes and hopes for a more prosperous life increased, however, “the prolonged confusion in state governance and the vagueness of some reforms are already causing alarm.”
“Strategic reforms can predetermine the quality of state governance for decades to come,” Grybauskaite underlined.
The lagging education system reform was mentioned by Grybauskaite as one of the most disappointing examples of the current governance.
“Low quality education is becoming an issue of national security. It is the cause of emigration, social exclusion, declining investment, economic stagnation, and, most importantly, corruption,” the head of state stressed.
Instead of “quality change”, the governing politicians tend to stick to minor improvements, thus it “looks like an imitation of action”, Grybauskaite continued on the education issue.
“Lack of political will in critical decision-making”, “entanglement in petty details”, “mania for hasty unprepared reforms”, “undelivered political promises”, all these are becoming a serious problem, the head of state said in a series of critical remarks.
Reforming the public sector, addressing corruption, social exclusion issues, enhancing justice and bringing Lithuanian emigrants back home from other countries to reduce the scale of emigration, were among the priorities listed by the president.
“The jubilee year commits us to take an intense and realistic look at the most challenging tasks facing us. There is no one but us to speed up the national progress,” said Grybauskaite, referring to 100th anniversary of Lithuanian independence which will be marked in 2018.
She noted that science and innovation should set the further economic path for Lithuania: “The decisions of today will shape the Lithuania of tomorrow: a country of innovators or a deserted land of elderly people.”
Lithuanian Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis, when speaking to reporters after the president’s address, said that his government’s will to implement reforms was “obvious.”
“The problems in education, society and many other areas were being ignored for nearly two decades. We started to implement these reforms and this is a long-term process,” Skvernelis was quoted as saying by local media.
He noted that the current government had only been working for half a year and proposed to withhold judgment until the full four-year government program was be implemented.
“Then we will be able to objectively judge what has been achieved,” the prime minister said.
However, he said he believed that the president’s criticism was not against the government.
“The president spoke about the ruling majority in general and voiced her expectations; I appreciate every remark,” said Skvernelis.