In April we continued working actively on the issues of higher education. The Parliament passed amendments to the Law on Science and Studies, incorporating our recommendations submitted in March. Among them is the provision enshrined in the law that well-learning students “shall be granted” studentships (the original wording of the bill was “may be granted” studentships). We understand that there is still a number of pressing issues to be solved as regards the higher education reform, but we believe that our proposals adopted by the Parliament will contribute to implementing the principle of honest competition and ensuring a more equal playing ground for both public and private higher education institutions in Lithuania.
We launched a sociological survey of public perceptions of smuggling and the consumption of illicit goods in the Baltic countries which was conducted for the first time. The survey shows that Lithuanians, Latvians and Estonians think that the primary cause of smuggling is taxes higher than the living standards in these countries, which generates differences in prices and gives rise to incentives to consume, or trade in, illegal goods. Our proposal to strike at the root cause of smuggling – to cut down excise duties to the minimal EU required level – is being heard: the Parliament is currently debating a proposal to lower the excise duty on petrol.
We also organised a think-tank school for Central and Eastern Europe in Vilnius where we shared our experience of more than two decades in managing a free-market think-tank with 30 representatives from starting think-tanks. This event is a significant achievement for us, recognition of our expertise at international level.