Feeding the poor: the Lithuanian Approach

Published: 21 January 2016


Virginija Baltraitienė (Photo: Julius Kalinskas/15min.lt)

By Stella Roque

The Lithuanian government is about to spend € 16.4 million (US$ 17.8 million) on feeding the poor. However, an inquiry by 15min.lt reveals that some of the products are being bought at inflated prices.

Each year, the Lithuanian Agricultural and Food Market Regulation Agency buys tons of flour, canned goods and other supplies for the poor. Now, a scandal has erupted as the agency has been caught buying goods at twice the market value.

Documents obtained by 15min.lt reveal that the agency was aware of the market prices. The Agency researched wholesale flour prices, finding the average price per ton is between € 300 and € 320 (US$ 326 and US$ 350)per ton.

Yet the agency is apparently about to pay € 600 per ton (US$ 654), although it is aware that the offer is far above the market price.

“I think we will,” said the agency’s director Aldona Miliuvienė when asked whether it would sign the procurement contract.

Moreover, it is not the only questionable aspect of the procurement deal.

The agency has signed contracts with suppliers of buckwheat for € 1,375 (US$ 1,500) per ton, when the market prices, according to publicly available data, range between € 765 and € 930 (US$ 834 and US$ 1,014) per ton. Barley groats are being bought for € 488 (US$ 532) per ton, while the recent market price ranged between € 292 and € 319 (US$ 318 and US$ 348) per ton.

The minister suspects the prices were inflated to benefit someone.