C O N F I D E N T I A L VILNIUS 000661
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/03/2019
TAGS: PGOV SMIG LH
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR'S INITIAL MEETING WITH INTERIOR MINISTER
Classified By: Ambassador Anne E. Derse for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).
Â¶1. (C) SUMMARY: In her introductory call on Interior
Minister Raimundas Palaitis, Ambassador Derse heard that all
public-safety and other Ministry employees would face 2
percent salary cuts under the GOL's proposed 2010 budget.
These severe budgetary constraints have left the GOL with
very limited financial means to fund programs designed to
combat trafficking in persons (TIP) in 2009 and 2010, though
some funding will be restored after that. The Minister
affirmed TIP remains an important priority for the GOL, and
reductions in funding are temporary and due only to the
extreme financial pressure the government is under. They do
not signal a lessening of commitment to fight the problem.
The minister also noted that NGOs are very active and the GOL
continues to do what it can to support them. End summary.
Â¶2. (C) Ambassador Derse paid an introductory call on the
Minister of Interior, Raimundas Palaitis, on December 3.
Vice Minister Stanislovas Liutkevicius, who is the national
coordinator for Lithuania's anti-TIP efforts, also attended.
The minister said the GOL's 2010 budget might be approved on
December 10; budget discussions and preparations have
consumed nearly all the time and effort of government and
parliamentary officials in recent weeks. The proposed budget
calls for police, firefighters and all other Interior
Ministry staff to take pay cuts of about 2 percent, the
Minister told the Ambassador.
Â¶3. (C) Lithuania, which has compiled a good record on
anti-TIP efforts in recent years, will have limited funding
to pay for anti-trafficking programs it has supported in the
past, the ministry officials said. The GOL has spent about
400,000 LTL (175,000 USD) annually on such programs in recent
years, but has zeroed out those budget lines for 2009 and
2010 because of the economic crisis, Liutkevicius said. The
funding, most of which goes to help NGOs that provide support
to trafficking victims, is expected to be restored for 2011
and 2012, he said. In all, Liutkevicius said, the GOL has
spent about 5 million LTL (2.2 million USD) on
anti-trafficking programs, mostly in the form of assistance
to NGOs working with victims. The Norwegians and Swiss have
stepped in to help support NGOs that the GOL could not afford
to assist for this year and next year, though, and the NGOs
continue to operate, he said. Police and prosecutors
continue to work on trafficking cases and the GOL is doing
all it can to fight trafficking, but budgetary problems have
made that more difficult, he said.