Accurate information about the policies and quality of municipal governments can help people choose where they should live, build businesses, and invest their resources. It can also spur government officials to reform their regulatory climates in order to attract constituents and investment. Atlas Network partner the Lithuanian Free Market Institute (LFMI) won the prestigious 2014 Templeton Freedom Award for its groundbreaking Municipal Performance Index, which has been published since 2011, and recently updated the index with new annual data for the fifth consecutive year.
“The Lithuanian Free Market Institute has released the 2015 edition of the Templeton Freedom Award Winning Lithuanian Municipal Performance Index, generating 100 media hits on the day of the launch and another 100 over the next three days,” the organization announced in a press release. “For a fifth year in a row LFMI has ranked Lithuanian local administrations to show which municipalities are best and which are worst in serving their citizens, fostering good governance and providing conditions to attract investment and create prosperity. This year the capital city of Vilnius has topped the ranking, and the city port of Klaipėda has come out second. The Kaunas and Klaipėda regional municipalities have outperformed the remaining 54 regional local administrations.”
This is the first year that Vilnius has ranked first in the Municipal Performance Index. It took the top spot from Klaipeda, LFMI President Žilvinas Šilėnas explained, because it has created a better climate for business and outside investment, along with a low unemployment rate and increased population. Still, Vilnius is saddled with high public debt that could dampen its future prospects.
“This year’s index has revealed some positive aspects in the work of local administrations,” the LFMI release explains. “For one thing, the amount of people who have received entitlement benefits has lowered by a quarter. The 2015 index has also recorded an 8 percent increase in the number of economic entities per 1,000 people and a 1.3 percent increase in the number of construction permits per 1,000 citizens. Importantly, municipalities have also reported a 13 percent growth in the number of people who have obtained business licenses.”