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Authorities in Klaipėda to accelerate procedures for large investors
Klaipėda’s economic development agency Klaipėda ID has reached an agreement with twenty public sector institutions and seven departments of Klaipėda city municipality. Based on this agreement, one of the most bureaucratically inflexible processes – issuing building permits – will be four times shorter than previously. While this “green corridor” initiative was primarily aimed at attracting foreign direct investment, it will also apply to Lithuanian capital businesses operating in Klaipėda.
The agreement with Klaipėda’s institutions outlines the accelerated procedures of issuing construction permits for businesses investing more than 3 million euro and creating at least 20 jobs within the municipality’s territory. The agreement was reached without making any changes to legal regulations and is based on closer cooperation between a number of institutions. Klaipėda ID points out that the “green investor corridor” of Klaipėda is not directly linked to the investment and profit tax legislative package which will come into effect in 2021. However, the “corridor” will provide an additional competitive advantage for the city and will apply to smaller investments, too.
“More than 300 relevant legal acts regulate the construction organisation domain and some of the processes take far longer in practice than is indicated in law. Due to the complex bureaucratic apparatus and lengthy procedures, in certain cases projects can be stalled for several years. This can result in investors losing millions of euros, the jobs which are not being created and the damage to the appeal of the city, the region and the country as a whole. To be able to compete on the global arena and attract value-adding investors, we have created an instrument which will save a great deal of precious time and money,” says Eglė Songailienė, head of Klaipėda ID.
According to Songailienė, the agreement aims to ensure that the necessary procedures are completed and the relevant documents are approved as soon as possible and to the highest standard. This would replace the current process whereby relevant institutions routinely take all of the allotted time until the very last minute. It was also agreed to avoid a common situation when a document is returned with a single remark or a single mistake identified, but upon amending it a new discrepancy is found in its place. The relevant authorities have agreed to perform a comprehensive review of all documents and inform applicants about all existing discrepancies in the same notification.
Among the “green investor corridor’s” partners is the Klaipėda Free Economic Zone (FEZ), which brings together more than 40 investors and 6,000 employees.
While the agreement will apply across the city’s entire territory, the FEZ management company has promised to pre-emptively consult with the relevant institutions on behalf of future investors (where this does not clash with the institutions’ internal procedures). The FEZ management team have also committed to take into account the requirements of the authorities and to improve cooperation so that any construction projects submitted for review would have as few flaws as possible. This will also facilitate the process of issuing construction permits, with the relevant institutions able to act much more efficiently than their normal practice.
“Klaipėda FEZ has for the past five years been focused on more efficient solutions for launching businesses. Understanding the importance of this stage and the practical activities towards it at the level of municipal and public sector institutions definitely strengthen the entire city’s positions on the investment map,” says Eimantas Kiudulas, CEO of Klaipėda FEZ .
Klaipėda city mayor Vytautas Grubliauskas says that with this agreement the city’s institutions monitoring business activities have demonstrated their strategic views on the value for the city.
“Of course, faster procedures do not automatically mean compromises in sustainability and harmonious development. However, if by working more smoothly we can save several weeks, months or quarters for ourselves, businesses and Klaipėda residents, we must make use of such opportunities in order to attract more innovative and value-generating manufacturers. I am glad that this initiative’s importance was appreciated by all parties involved. We are talking about numerous institutions from different subordinations and this proves that we have the capacity to reach an agreement and join together when it comes to decisions which are important for the entire city and its development,” says V. Grubliauskas.
The Klaipėda “green investor corridor” agreement was trialled last year through the German polymer company REHAU’s project in Klaipėda FEZ. After announcing plans for development in the port city and the project developer tender in the first half of the year, despite the pandemic and the specifics of the project, the factory had a building permit in place by late October and actual work could begin immediately. According to E. Songailienė, this pilot project was a success. However, tens of participating port city institutions will continue to draw conclusions, coordinate processes and schedules, as well as further improve the inter-institutional coordination in order to offer value for future investors and the public.
The agreement includes Klaipėda city municipality with seven of its departments as well as the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Public Health Centre, AB Eso, AB Telia Lietuva, AB Klaipėdos Vanduo, UAB Gatvių Apšvietimas, AB Litgrid, the National Energy Regulatory Council, AB Klaipėdos Energija, the State Territorial Planning and Construction Inspectorate, the Agency for the Adaptation of the Environment for the Disabled, the Department of Cultural Heritage, the Lithuanian Transport Safety Administration, AB Lietuvos Geležinkeliai, UAB Miesto Energija, the Radiation Safety Centre, the Curonian Spit National Park Directorate and the Klaipėda region municipality.