On the May 11, Lithuania celebrates The Day of Respect for the Taxpayers. On this occasion, the Lithuanian Free Market Institute (LFMI) stresses that a public sector that serves its citizens and creates value is an expression of respect for taxpayers.
The Day of Respect for the Taxpayers has been commemorated since 2018. Due to the LFMI’s initiative, it is included in the list of memorial days of the Republic of Lithuania.
“This day is important because it invites us to remember that the money contributed by taxpayers to the budget should be used in a meaningful way. The day encourages not only to talk but also to do tangible things so that our civil service really serves the people,” said Elena Leontjeva, President of LFMI.
So far, she said, respect for taxpayers has been achieved in a sluggish and cursory manner. The impact of laws, adjustment costs, and administrative burden are too rarely assessed. Taxpayers’ rights to a transparent and efficient tax system, quality advice, and planning are not always respected.
However, the situation is set to change. The Government set itself the objective of optimizing the public sector at the beginning of its term in office. The concept of civil service reform is now being discussed as well. The Economic Recovery and Resilience Plan for Lithuania, which aims to make public services more customer-oriented, also offers good opportunities.
“If implemented properly, the plan has the potential to fundamentally change the relationship between public authorities and taxpayers. From service recipients to customers, we should forget confusing laws, excessive bureaucracy, long chains of approvals, and even queues to see doctors. Instead, this would be a real tribute and appreciation for the value we all as taxpayers create every day,” said the President of LFMI.
It is not enough to digitalize the processes envisaged in the aforementioned documents to turn the plans into reality to achieve the various objectives.
“A prerequisite for digitization is reviewing and shortening all bureaucratic chains before digitizing them. The persistently lagging state information technology infrastructure warns that unnecessary and non-value-adding functions must be eliminated before they are digitized,” said Karolina Mickutė, Senior Expert at LFMI.
To do this, it is crucial to restructure public governance.
“Today, civil servants are in the unenviable position of not being able to help people because they are imprisoned by a plethora of rules and regulations and contradictions. So what needs to be done? – Systematically remove regulatory loopholes and bureaucratic barriers to people’s activities”, said Ms Leontjeva.
Therefore, it is essential to establish real accountability of civil servants to achieve the most important objectives to society and stop the useless procedures. Furthermore, this would allow public authorities to connect with citizens as their VIP customers.
“If people feel that civil servants are trying to serve rather than dominate, they will have a more positive attitude towards taxes,” said the head of LFMI.
Find out more about it in the event initiated by LFMI to discuss crucial steps to restructure public governance here.
The event was attended by the Deputy Minister of Finance Rūta Bilkštyte, Head of the 1st Department of Financial Audit of the State Audit Office Danguole Krištopavičienė, businesswoman Odeta Bložienė, Chairman of the Tax Disputes Commission Evaldas Raistenskis, and the Head of the Department of State Service Gediminas Miškinis.
All taxpayers’ rights (in Lithuanian) can be found at this link.