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2019.10.10 11:00

Lithuanian president signs social enterprises bill criticised by businesses and people with disabilities

BNS2019.10.10 11:00

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda signed a bill on social enterprises into law on Wednesday, but proposed to supplement it with a monitoring mechanism.

Nausėda thinks while the law "is not perfect," it's a step toward dealing with issues of employment of disabled people, Antanas Bubnelis, the president's spokesman, told BNS.

"The new Law on Social Enterprises is not perfect, but the president signed it because he believes that this is a step [towardss] addressing the issues of equal employment for disabled people," the spokesman said.

The president proposed to include an obligation for responsible authorities to monitor and evaluate social enterprises, which employ around 7,000 people with disabilities.

The new rules, approved by the Seimas last month, have drawn criticism both from social enterprises and from people with disabilities.

The initiators say the new law puts in place more safeguards to prevent social enterprises from unfairly profiting from people with disabilities.

However, critics say that the new law leaves loopholes for abuse, as the state's financial support will continue to go to enterprises, rather than to the people with disabilities themselves.

Yet, the social enterprises say the profit-related restrictions may force them to close down.

The state allocates about 30 million euros annually to help create and maintain jobs for the disabled. While 7,000 people with disabilities work in social enterprises, another 40,000 work for various other companies.