Amid calls by Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda to increase public spending on social needs, Finance Minister Vilius Šapoka says the government has already allocated significant funding for poverty reduction in recent years.
"Budgeting [...] requires to prioritize needs. Very significant amounts of money have been allocated for poverty alleviation in recent years," Šapoka told LRT Radio on Friday.
"We shouldn't get ourselves lulled into over-optimism, but we shouldn't be over-pessimistic either. We must be realistic," he added.
The minister also warned of an economic slowdown globally, as well as in Lithuania.
"The world economy is decelerating [...], and Lithuania's economic growth is set for a considerable slowdown in the coming year, too. Therefore, we must be very cautious, prepare for it and take decisive measures and carry out the necessary education, healthcare and social security reforms," he said.
Nausėda called for an increase in funding for social needs after a meeting with acting Social Security and Labour Minister Linas Kukuraitis on Thursday.
Read more: Nausėda says social security spending too low, calls for leadership and cooperation
"Social security spending is low, and the emphasis here is on how to find resources to increase funding for social needs, which is about twice as low as the European Union average," Simonas Krėpšta, a presidential advisor, said after the meeting.