“The stress test of our coalition with the “Farmers” will be in autumn during the formation of the budget. Then we will see how to act,” Social Democrat leader Gintautas Paluckas told LRT.lt when asked whether the party is considering withdrawing from the coalition with the “Farmers”, LRT.lt reported.
According to former party leader Algirdas Butkevičius, his patience reached its limit on Wednesday after the Committee of Rural Affairs meeting, stating that “If I had known that our partners will enact such a regions policy, I would definitely not have signed the coalition agreement after the Seimas elections.”
Forced through decisions
A. Butkevičius stated he now sees that the “Farmers” do not uphold their promises outlined in the coalition agreement.
The former SocDem leader was shocked when the Seimas Committee of Rural Affairs refused all the proposals regarding forestry reform without even debating them. “It was some sort of bulldozer. The impression was made that it was decided ahead of time, how it should be and votes were cast as the “Farmers” and cabinet needed,” Butkevičius explained.
The politician stressed that next week he will not vote for the proposal submitted to Seimas by the cabinet regarding forestry reform, where they would lose the status of juridical entities and the forests would be managed by a single company based in Vilnius.
“We cannot do regional policy like this. Forest centralisation would reduce the competitiveness of the companies servicing them and they would be forced to go bankrupt because the large lumber processors will buy everything up, leaving the smaller businesses only scraps for a higher price,” G. Paluckas echoed A. Butkevičius.
Political barter did not interest the SocDems and Liberals
G. Paluckas denies any negotiations or trades regarding the Forestry Law amendments and categorically disagrees with Conservative leader Gabrielius Landbsergis‘ offer to agree with the forestry reforms in return for VAT exemptions for heating being brought back after their recent removal at the initiative of the cabinet and “Farmers”.
“I registered a proposal to return the VAT exemption for heating permanently and honestly believe that the “Farmers” will come to an understanding, looking at their declining ratings and people’s moods regarding the inevitably rising heating prices. This will also be influenced by the expiring gas price deal by Russian monopoly Gazprom, which was negotiated for by A. Butkevičius,” G. Paluckas stressed.
The political trade offered by G. Landsbergis did not interest the Seimas Liberal Movement group head Eugenijus Gentvilas who stated that “Ironically I could say that if the “Farmers” agree to our proposal to legalise gay marriage in Lithuania, then we would sell the devil our soul and would agree with their forestry reform. But seriously, the Liberals will not participate in any political barter.”
On July 11, the Seimas is slated to vote regarding the “Farmer” proposed forestry reform. On the same day the Committee of Environmental Protection will deliberate on E. Gentvilas’ Tuesday proposal to remove an article from the current Forest Law which states that forests are managed by 42 forestries and instead handing over the reform to the cabinet.
A. Butkevičius has mentioned that the Social Democrats may join forces and seek a mutually acceptable solution with the Liberals in an attempt to obstruct the “Farmer” forestry reform.
“So far we have not spoken with the Social Democrats, but we continue to review our own proposals. I am personally in favour of forestry reform, but the way it is proposed by the “Farmers” is far too radical. I believe that the Ministry of the Environment and its leadership are too weak to enact such a reform. On the other hand I agree with the Social Democrats that the reform would significantly harm the social situation of the regions because small lumber processing companies would not survive in the market,” E. Gentvilas said.
The politician stated that on July 11, after the Committee of Environmental Protection discussion of his forestry reform, it will be included in the Seimas agenda. He does, however, note that it is unclear which question will be discussed first – the “Farmer” and cabinet project or his. According to the liberal, this project could use his project as a way out, taking up the reform itself.