MRS. IRENA DEGUTIENE
Head of the Delegation
Minister of Social Security and Labour
The 24th Special Session of the United Nations General
World Summit for Social Development and Beyond:
Achieving social development for all in a globalizing .world
Geneva, 27 June 2000
Ladies and Gentlemen,
On behalf of the President of the Republic of Lithuania and of the Prime Minister, I would like to congratulate the delegates to this special session of the United Nations and to wish all of us a success in advancing the social agenda further. I am glad to have the opportunity to represent my country and to express our opinion on the influence of the Copenhagen process in Lithuania.The United Nations Summit for Social Development, held in Copenhagen in March 1995, reminded the world of the importance of social development, of combating poverty and of social exclusion to the progress of democracy and the development of a stable society. This Special Session of the General Assembly on social issues is a very consistent and useful event. It will allow to review and appraise the implementation of outcomes of the Copenhagen Summit, also to decide on further initiatives in order to strengthen the effectiveness of the implementation.
The National Report was prepared in 1999 and presented to the United Nations. This document covering the achievements of Lithuania after the Copenhagen Summit was a significant step towards the development of a comprehensive national poverty reduction strategy. It illustrated that during last years social protection expenditure in Lithuania was growing, while a relative poverty had a tendency to decrease.
The National Report also points out that in Lithuania the most immediate social problems include development of the wellbeing of the rural population, support of large families, integration of socially vulnerable population groups into society.
The draft Strategy has been presented by the President of the Republic of Lithuania to all political parties, a large number of non-governmental organisations and the general public. Their comments were taken into account.
I would like to use this opportunity to express our gratefulness to the UNDP Office in Lithuania, which supported us during all stages of strategy preparation. We were also pleased to discuss poverty issues and ways to combat it with our colleagues from Latvia and Estonia during the Baltic Conference on Poverty Reduction that took place earlier.
The Strategy is in line with the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania, which identifies the fulfilment of people's needs and goals as the main objective for the development of society. This means that the economic growth must be socially, politically and economically related with an improvement of the welfare of all citizens.
The Strategy defines the concept of poverty adapted to the Lithuanian situation,
indicates the way to measure it, gives an overview of the spread of poverty
and identifies the most impoverished, groups of the population. Based on this
information, strategic targets of the poverty reduction have been identified:
overall poverty level reduction and assistance to the most vulnerable groups.
The Poverty Reduction Strategy is based on the principles of subsidiarity and solidarity. The Strategy especially underlines the role of NGOs and social partners in dealing with poverty issue.
The main objective is to increase employment, to create favourable conditions for members of the society to acquire appropriate education, to start and develop businesses. Employment promotion is considered to be a very effective method for reducing poverty.
Lithuania prepared a National Employment Action flan to strengthen employment for the year 2000 - 2002 in which measures for developing employment and social cohesion by using local initiatives and other active labour market measures are forecasted.
Social enterprises will be established for people of poor professional education, unactive people and people faced with social problems. In these enterprises social rehabilitation and personality development will be as important as the work since the purpose is not only to create john but also to favour reintegration into society.
Ensuring gender equality in the labour market is also one of the main directions of the National Employment Action Plan. Moreover, striving for gender equality and eliminating women's poverty, the Government takes active steps in this area with particular attention paid to the plans of Beijing +5.
One of the preconditions for successful poverty reduction is an improvement of social assistance system. It is oriented towards paying of benefits in more targeted manner and guaranteeing rationality of benefits system, as well as developing social services. It is necessary to ensure the availability of services to every person and to create conditions for persons effected by poverty to take care of themselves and to integrate into society.
Concrete measures for poverty reduction foreseen in the Strategy are implemented mainly at municipal level. NGOs, volunteers and informal service providers are also involved in this process. In the meantime we look for effective ways of co-operation between municipalities and NGOs.
A Commission for the Implementation of the Poverty Reduction Strategy is to be established. It will be reporting to the President of the Republic of Lithuania. The Commission will monitor situation of poverty, analyse efficiency of measures intended to combat it. An annual report on poverty in Lithuania is to be published in order to estimate poverty and measures for its reducing.
I would like to assure the General Assembly that Lithuania is involved in the
Copenhagen process and that combating poverty and strengthening social cohesion
are high priorities in our country. I hope that the Geneva session will have
a positive impact on solving this very humanistic, exceptional problem.