What challenges await Saulius Skvernelis?

Saulius Skvernelis
DELFI / Domantas Pipas

With the President having presented Saulius Skvernelis’ candidacy for Prime Minister, BNS asked his predecessors, what the greatest challenges the new PM can expect are.

Social Democrat Algirdas Butkevičius (2012-2016) – it is crucial to oversee and coordinate your ministers

“This job takes a great toll on your health, patience and strength. I would first wish for the cabinet to be formed based on minister competence because in the cabinet, both during sessions and during discussions, as well as with the ministers leading their ministries, there has to be an understanding of how to govern the state. Competence in governance will decide how strategic plans are prepared in each ministry.

The PM will have to constantly monitor through members of his team, that ministries would fulfil cabinet programme in a timely manner. Another thing I wish for the new PM – that there would be no such cases where ministries are belated in preparing legislative projects, presenting them for cabinet sessions. Lateness snowballs, gets worse and worse.

It is important that the cabinet would work as a team and would understand what horizontal governance and principles are because some, for example EU programmes, are worked on by several ministries at once. Often ministers believe that it is to each their own. That is a style of governance from long ago. If all those things are coordinated among ministers, then the cabinet will work successfully.

S. Skvernelis will find it very challenging to ensure that the projects that have been started would be continued. Another thing – the PM has to clearly outline four or five key priorities for the state. These priorities, for example education reform, healthcare reform continuity, reducing emigration, they all have to be laid on the table under some transparent object and have to be reminded of every morning.”

Conservative Andrius Kubilius (1999-2000, 2008-2012) – important to decide on priorities
“My advice would be to personally define what key aims, tasks and priorities he intends to pursue as PM. That is the greatest challenge – to clearly understand what you personally, in representing your party, your ideas and your vision for the state and world affairs plan to pursue. Without a clear view of this, you are condemned to meandering in routine, working chaotically and this is the greatest problem.

The biggest challenge and the most important aim is quickly raising the welfare of the people, I do have the increase in wages in mind, but this can only be done by strongly pursuing that the productivity of the Lithuanian economy would increase more rapidly. We are close to the point which is called the middle income trap, when wages begin to rise faster than the economy’s productivity and this results in reduced economic competitiveness, then exports drop off, growth stalls. To me the most important challenge would be to ensure that economic productivity would rise faster. This requires intense work in attracting investment, but not just to Vilnius, where high technology gathers, but also the regions, to build more appealing work places there.”

Social Democrat Gediminas Kirkilas (2006-2008) – fulfilment of pledges will depend on economic growth

“The first challenge is forming a cabinet and presenting a programme that Seimas will find acceptable. Soon there will be final signing of the budget, there will be many proposals so it will not be simple. The budget will also be reviewed by the EU, there was a plan of reaching a balanced budget more rapidly.

The largest challenge is fulfilling the promised programme. This will primarily depend on economic growth, if the economy stalls, much will be impossible to do. The second challenge – decisions on labour force emigration, it is a critical state problem. And of course all the geopolitical challenges threatening us along with the rest of the EU.

I believe that currently there are good relations between the President and future government, they are seeking consensus. There is also a certain harmony in Seimas right now, which allows for work to begin. This is a positive sign.”

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