STATEMENT

BY

Ambassador H.E. Gediminas Serksnys
The Head of Delegation
Permanent Representative of the Republic of Lithuania to the UN

AT THE SPECIAL SESSION ON HABITAT II

New York
June 6, 2001


Mr. Chairman,
Excellencies,
Distinguished delegates,

    Allow me on behalf of the Lithuanian delegation to thank for organising the Special Session of the General Assembly in order to review and appraise the implementation of the Outcome of the United Nations Conference on Human Settlements. Sharing the experience and the best practices with other countries gives us a new impetus for achieving Habitat II goals.

Mr. Chairman,

    While aligning fully with the statement made by the European Union, I would still like to share with you our national experiences on this issue.

    Lithuania alignes itself with the principles of the Draft Declaration on Cities and other Human Settlements in the New Millennium. On the other hand, I would like to stress that our commitments should be not only clear and cant' the message that our goal is to improve the living conditions for poor but also concrete actions must be taken in a real life.

    Implementation of the outcome of the Habitat II conference was always the goal for the Lithuanian Government. Both the ongoing process of the country's accession to the EU and aspirations to increase the universal wellbeing are carried out through the macro-economic activity, which creates preconditions for implementation of the Habitat II outcome.

    Common European processes permanently influence Lithuania. The Lithuanian GDP is becoming of a similar structure to that of the Western European countries. The private sector creates over 70 per cent of GDP in Lithuania. The economic transformation has reached its last stage and trends of the economic growth are observed. Life quality is improving, and amount of the long-term investments into the housing sector is increasing.

    A network of urban areas is already formed in Lithuania and it demonstrates a balanced settlement structure with distribution of different functions among urban centres. Even at lower levels, the settlement structure appears balanced. Such situation creates favourable conditions for integration of urban and rural areas as well as their development in the new social and economic conditions.

    Though Lithuania's transition to the market economy left its mark on the housing construction status, new and better quality materials helping to reduce energy consumption were started to be used. Instead of 336 dwellings with 20,0 m2 per person in 1995, now there are 356 housing units per 1000 inhabitants with average 21,5 m2 per person and 97 % of the units are private. Investments into the new housing construction comprised about 9,2 % of the total investments, but the part used for social housing should be increased. Lithuanian municipalities are constantly urged to assume higher responsibility for the social housing construction.

    The number of newly built single-family houses increased noticeably and the overall quality of buildings improved. Since a considerable part of houses, especially those in cities, are large panel houses with poor energy efficiency, therefore, constantly increasing investments are made for their renovation and modernisation.

    In order to fulfil the commitment of the state supported Housing Programme and to facilitate conditions for acquisition of dwellings through purchase, building or renovation, the Lithuanian Government took a number of measures of the strategic housing policy. About 20 laws and twice as much by-laws and regulations, relating housing and human settlements were enforced in Lithuania during a period of the last 5 years. An important legal act for improvement of the residential property management was the Civil Code, which was enforced in Lithuania this year. Formation of homeowners' associations in privatised multifamily houses is being promoted, and constant perfection of legislation for activity of homeowners' associations is under way. Currently a new law on residential building construction associations is under drafting.

    The Lithuanian Government prepared a new conception for the acquisition of residential property, where emphasis on the existing problems and measures for acquisition, reconstruction and rent of the municipal dwelling was made. By enlarging budget assignments for loan subsidies a stronger state support was accomplished for young families (under the age of 35) for the housing acquisition.

    The Housing Loan Insurance Company started its activity last year. The Company provides insurance of loans and at the same time grants guaranties to banks. It made possible to receive housing loans with only 5 % of down payment.

    After a system of the zeal estate cadastre and register was revised and a new mortgage infrastructure created, the supply of the mortgage loans increased significantly.

    The Energy Efficiency in Housing pilot project has been successfully finalised under the funding of World Bank and implemented by the Housing and Urban Development Foundation. The Foundation, which was established in 1996, provides loans for homeowners' associations and schools. Negotiations with the World Bank for an additional loan for the Lithuanian housing renovation needs are under preparation.

    We are pleased to express our content for the fruitful co-operation with the sector of the Environment and Human Settlements of the Economic Commission for Europe as well as the UNDID office in Vilnius. The Country Profile on Housing in Lithuania, which was prepared together with the international team of experts, was published in English and Lithuanian languages. It was presented to both the governmental institutions and the society for the discussions on housing improvement in Lithuania. The Strategy presents main problems of housing renovation, ways for implementation of energy efficiency measures and practical recommendations. Co-operation with corresponding ministries of the Netherlands, Poland, Germany, Sweden and the Baltic neighbours influenced a number of challenging ideas related to the realisation of the Habitat II documents.
    We consider that the spirit of Habitat II is alive and actual. It inspires us for further steps of implementation of the Habitat outcome.

                                                                                                    Thank you, Mr. Chairman.