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.