Public services is a term usually used to mean services provided by government to its citizens, either directly (through the public sector) or by financing private provision of services. The term is associated with a social consensus (usually expressed through democratic elections) that certain services should be available to all, regardless of income. Even where public services are neither publicly provided nor publicly financed, for social and political reasons they are usually subject to regulation going beyond that applying to most economic sectors.
One of the main features of the economic development in Lithuania in the last five years has been the growing importance of the services sector. There has been a rapid growth in the number of enterprises promoting services and gross value added of total economy has increased rapidly. In 1992 gross value added of services constituted 40%, in 1997 constituted more than 56% and 51% of total employees were engaged in services sector.
1. PUBLIC SERVICE
In 1999 the current Law on Public Service was accredited. The current legal set up for civil service is in the main in line with EU Member States, but implementation is slow and sometimes half-hearted. The reasons for this are chiefly short-lived governments and only slowly improving administrative capacity. Civil Service is being reduced, but petty corruption is still a problem. Measures to address these problems have been taken and implementation is proceeding, though at a slow pace. Mechanisms to ensure that common civil service management standards are applied across the administration are developing, but are not fully operational yet. Salaries are low and the discretion awarded for managers to determine individual salaries is too wide, which may adversely affect the development of civil service professionalism. The Institute of Public Administration has a central role on training, which it is approaching systematically. Improvements are already visible.
In modern, developed countries the term public services often includes:
• Housing and construction;
• Families and social services;
• Health and nutrition;
• Law and legal protection;
• Public safety and order;
• Transport and travel;
• Teaching and education;
• Library and information services;
• Culture and communications;
• Work and pensions;
• Taxation and financing;
• Sports and outdoor activities.
1.1. HOUSING AND CONSTRUCTION
Society provides financial support to help with living expenses so that even those on small incomes, students and pensioners can live in homes of a reasonable standard. Applicants may receive housing allowance for part of their housing costs for rented accommodation, right-of-occupancy housing and even for owner-occupied housing. Allowances are granted collectively for the entire household, and are available on application from the Social Insurance Institution.
The national population information system contains population data and information on where people live. In addition to personal data, the system can also provide information on buildings, flats and real estate. The system is maintained by the local register offices and the Population Register Centre.
1.2. FAMILIES AND SOCIAL SERVICES
Families and children
Local authorities and organizations provide advice and support services for many different family situations. Child welfare clinics support parents during the different stages of pregnancy and monitor children’s health. Local authorities are responsible for providing day care. Child guidance and family counseling clinics can help with problems concerning families and children. Young people can seek help from school nurses or telephone
help lines set up by various organizations.
The provision of services and support measures for the disabled is the responsibility of local authorities. Local authorities arrange services such as transport services, sheltered housing, interpreting services and personal assistants. The aim of the allowance is to help the recipient cope more easily at work, in education and with the demands of everyday life.
A death in the family
The death of a close relative can have a major impact on a family’s life and income. In addition to coping with grief, a number of practical arrangements have to be dealt with from planning the funeral to making an inventory of the estate and administering the inheritance. Family members may also be entitled to survivor’s pension.
Benefits and allowances
The right to social security is one of the fundamental basic rights guaranteed under the Constitution. Society supports individuals at different stages of life with different allowances. The forms of support include family allowances, parental allowances and housing allowances.
1.3. HEALTH AND NUTRITION
Health care services
Everyone has the right to health and medical care. Local authorities provide health services at health centers, maternity and child welfare clinics, at schools, rehabilitation clinics and dental clinics. It is the duty of local authorities to make sure that residents have access to care if they become ill. Everyone also has the right to municipal dental care, or health insurance compensation for private dental care.
Occupational health care and rehabilitation
Employers arrange preventative occupational health care for their employees, with the aim of creating a healthy work environment and community for all employees. An employer can also choose to arrange medical care for employees. Rehabilitation is provided, for example, by health care centers and hospitals. People of working age receive rehabilitation to improve working capacity and wellbeing and those who have been in an accident to help restore functional capacity.
Addictions caused by intoxicants and other substances lead to difficult social and societal problems. Different tests help establish whether an intoxicant has become a problem. Information on intoxicants and addictions is available from health centers, school nurses and drug and alcohol advice organizations. Local authorities arrange services for substance abusers together with support for abusers and their families.
1.4. LAW AND LEGAL PROTECTION
Fundamental rights of citizens
Citizens’ fundamental rights are guaranteed in the Constitution. Everyone is equal before the law. Freedom of speech is a universal right, as is the right to choose a religion or not to belong to any religious group. People have the right to move about freely, to choose where they want to live and to gather without asking for permission. All citizens aged 18 and over have the right to vote in elections. Citizens also have the right to use their own mother tongue.
Voting and civic activity
Ordinary people can make a difference to issues of common interest by voting and standing as candidates. Civic activities and engaging in social debate are also ways of influencing issues. Members of municipal councils, Parliament, and the President and members of the European Parliament are elected in direct elections, in which those aged 18 and over have the right to participate.
Everyone has protection and is equal under the law. The supreme guardians of the law are the Chancellor of Justice and the Parliamentary Ombudsman. The Council for Mass Media monitors the activities of the media. Copyright is protected by law.
The task of local authority consumer advisers is to help consumers and to give advice. Advisers arbitrate in disputes between consumers and sellers and can also help, if necessary, in making a complaint. The Consumer Agency and Consumer Ombudsman represent the position of consumers in Lithuania society. The Consumer Ombudsman monitors the laws drawn up to protect consumers to see they are being observed.
Nationality, languages and minorities
Children automatically become Lithuania citizens when they are born if the mother or father is a Lithuania citizen. Foreigners can apply for citizenship if they have lived in the country for a sufficient length of time and their identity has been established. Lithuania also accepts dual nationality: Lithuanians will not lose their nationality if they become a citizen of another state.
1.5. PUBLIC SAFETY AND ORDER
Accidents and emergency numbers
The emergency number 112 can be used for all emergency situations to call for an ambulance, the fire brigade, the police or emergency social services. In the event of an accident or if a person is suddenly taken ill, first aid should be given if possible. Emergency assistance should be called to the scene and attempts should be made to prevent further accidents.
Insurances safeguard the financial position of individuals, families or companies in the event of loss or damage. Employers insure employees with statutory accident insurance, employment pension insurance and unemployment insurance. Individuals can also take out private insurance in addition to the statutory insurances.
The Defense Forces are responsible for national defense. Lithuania defense is based on national service for men and voluntary military service for women and work carried out by professionals in the defense sector. Men can choose to do non-military service instead of national service.
1.6. TRANSPORT AND TRAVEL
Vehicles and driving permits
The permits necessary for driving motor vehicles are obtained from the police. Drivers must pass a driving test before obtaining a driving license. Only vehicles that have been inspected and registered can be driven in traffic. A pilot’s license is required for flying, but yachtsmen are not required to have a license.
The police monitor the observance of traffic regulations, speed limits and the use of safety equipment. The police are also responsible for controlling heavy traffic and the transportation of dangerous substances. The Lithuania Road Administration monitors and informs drivers of travel problems, such as changes in road weather conditions, road works and disruptions caused by accidents. The Lithuania Meteorological Institute issues warnings on difficult driving conditions, for example.
Regional and local authorities provide information for people traveling in Lithuania at roadside information points. The Ministry for Foreign Affairs provides information on foreign countries and on security risks. Lithuania diplomatic missions help people needing advice and help abroad. Information on the vaccinations required for a particular area is available from health centers. The Lithuania Customs is responsible for controlling and taxing goods brought into the country from abroad.
Different permits are needed for entering Lithuania and
staying in the country, depending on the country of origin. Foreigners must have a valid passport or other approved travel document. A person arriving in the country may need a visa or residence permit. EU citizens do not need a visa or residence permit. Lithuania citizens who have lived abroad and retained their nationality do not require a visa either.
Guidance for immigrants and integration
Society is responsible for taking care of the integration of immigrants. The aim of integration is to ensure that immigrants can take part in all the activities of society in the same way as others living in the country. Learning the language is very important for integrating. Employment offices and municipal immigration advisers support immigrants and their families. Organizations are also actively involved in working with immigrants.
Citizens of the Member States of the European Union can study, work and spend their retirement freely in another member country, and have the same rights as the countries citizens. People moving to countries outside the EU need a visa or residence permit. A separate permit is usually required for working. The diplomatic missions of the country in question can provide information on the customs and ways of different countries.
1.8. TEACHING AND EDUCATION
Education and educational institutions
Children aged six have the right to pre-school teaching, which is arranged in day care centers and comprehensive schools. Comprehensive school usually starts when children reach seven years of age. After comprehensive school, pupils can study at upper secondary school or in vocational schools, after which studies can continue in polytechnics and higher education institutions, including universities for the arts and sciences.
Attending school and studying abroad
Students can go abroad to study either independently or on different study programs. Vocational qualifications that have been obtained within the European Union are usually valid in all Member States. University degrees, on the other hand, are widely recognized on the basis of international agreements outside the countries of the EU, too.
Financial aid and grants for students
Students can get financial assistance for studying if they have been accepted by an educational institution and are studying full time. Students who work can apply for adult education allowance. Financial aid for students consists of a study grant, a housing supplement and a government-guaranteed student loan. Students apply for financial aid for studying from KELA. Students can also get grants for studying from the educational institution or student unions.
Educational programmes and materials
Teaching materials and packages to support all kinds of learning are available online. Packages are aimed at young people and adults, for use in leisure time and for professional purposes. Materials that supplement television teaching programmes can also be found online.
Science and research
Research is carried out at universities, in public and private research institutes and in companies. Research aims to obtain new information and to apply the information in practice. Research libraries and information services provide data on research and scholarly publications. In addition to the state, private foundations also fund research projects.
1.9. LIBRARY AND INFORMATION SERVICES
Every local authority in Lithuania has a city library. In addition to books and magazines, music, films and computer programs, for instance, can also be taken out on loan. Borrowing from other libraries takes place through the interlibrary loan service.
Services provided by Lithuania libraries are free. Information specialists in libraries help with information retrieval and show how customers can search for information themselves. Presenting and selecting resources and producing information retrieval services are a major part of the work carried out by information specialists and libraries.
also provide Internet connections for browsing. Information on services provided by university and specialist libraries is available on the Internet and their collections can also be searched online.
Lithuania has a comprehensive library network which includes municipal libraries, libraries in educational establishments, research libraries and other specialist libraries. Library services are open to all, and the basic services are normally free of charge. Traditional library services are increasingly often complemented by online services.
1.10. CULTURE AND COMMUNICATIONS
Culture and art
The visual arts, literature, music and the performing arts together with leisure activities and civic activities all enrich life. Culture is created both by those who engage in art for fun and by professionals. Cultural activities can be enjoyed at different kinds of events, concerts, art exhibitions and in libraries.
Museum collections contain art and a wide variety of objects and articles from everyday life. Visitors to museums can become more familiar with Lithuania history, art and nature. In addition to their collections, museums also display the research that they carry out.
Religions and ethics
Everyone has the right to practice the religion of their choice or to be unaffiliated with any religious group. Pupils are given instruction in their own religion or in ethics at comprehensive school and upper secondary school.
Civic organizations and interest groups
Civic and special interest organizations play an important role in Lithuania society. Associations include, political parties, labour market organizations and sports and leisure societies. Communities and private individuals can set up associations. Associations can only produce a profit to the extent that they can continue to operate.
The Constitution guarantees the freedom of speech, which includes the right to freely express, publish and receive information, opinions and messages. Different media follow the events taking place in society and communicate them to their audiences. The Council for Mass Media in Lithuania is the self-regulating body for the communications sector that sets out good journalistic practice and defends the freedom of speech and the freedom to publish.
1.11. WORK AND PENSIONS
Rules and regulations in working life
Employees should sign a written contract with an employer. The contract between the employer and employee should fulfill the minimum conditions of the collective agreement for that sector. The terms and conditions of employment together with salaries are regulated by agreements between the social partners. The regulations aim to safeguard minimum benefits for employees. Unemployment benefits, holidays and family benefits, for example, are agreed for each sector.
Working capacity and occupational safety
The ability to cope at work is significantly influenced not only by the physical wellbeing of employees, but also by their mental wellbeing. Labour protection promotes the wellbeing of employees and safety in the working environment and prevents accidents at work and occupational diseases. Employers organize preventative health care for employees.
Unemployment and unemployment security
Employment offices provide job seeking help for people who have become unemployed. Unemployment security provides unemployed people with basic income. KELA is responsible for paying basic allowance and labour market allowance, and unemployment funds for paying earnings-related allowances.
A pension guarantees an income after working life. Pensions consist primarily of an earnings-related pension based on past employment and a national pension based on residence in Finland. The employment and national pensions are statutory. The national pension guarantees a minimum income to those without an earnings-related pension or for those whose earnings-related pension is insufficient. Pension security can consist of several different pensions. Pensions are also paid to those living overseas.
1.12. TAXATION AND FINANCING
Banking services and investment
Everyday money matters are managed through banks. Banks also give advice on managing and investing assets. Lithuania money markets will be the part of the euro zone’s money markets and the Bank of Lithuania will be the part of the European Central Bank System.
Income for the Budget is primarily obtained through taxes and other payments. The task of the Ministry of Finance is to monitor the development of general government finances and to prepare the Budget. Government assets are managed by the different ministries and the authorities under them. Central government debts are managed in cooperation between the Ministry of Finance and the Treasury.
1.13. SPORTS AND OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES
Physical exercise and sports
People can take part in physical activities and sports in sports halls, outdoor recreation areas, swimming pools, and ice rinks maintained by local authorities as well as in many other places intended for sports activities. Civic organizations offer group exercise activities on courses and in different events. The government subsidizes the work of local authorities and sports organizations.
Hiking and boating
Public right of access in Lithuania gives people unrestricted access to walk in the countryside and to pick berries and mushrooms. Local authorities and the state maintain routes especially intended for hiking and boating. In addition, outdoor recreation areas also have routes intended particularly for horse riders, cyclists, skiers and walkers. The national parks are open to all for nature walks.
Hunting and fishing
Hunting and fishing are leisure activities that on the whole require a permit. Angling and ice fishing do not require purchase of a fishing license. Hunters are required to have a hunting card, which can be obtained by passing the hunting examination and paying the annual game management fee. The police grant the permit required for obtaining and possessing a gun.
The public administration sector has been the target of much criticism all over the world. The reason is the same everywhere – taxpayers want to see the efficiently functioning and cheaper executive power. This will of Lithuanian citizens is pronounced more clearly as the bureaucracy is still deeply rooted in the society.
Public Service provides in-depth news, analysis and opinion on the topics that matter to senior public sector bodies with a mission to provide policy-makers with relevant information to be able to make informed policy decisions. Its window on the wider public sector world ranges from policy to practice, and includes the insider’s perspective on the latest approaches to better public services.
In turn, this section will allow the Solution Providers to provide the information they want and need to communicate to the public sector community, and will essentially allow the policy-makers to use it as and when they need it.