28/11/2001

Lithuanian delegation welcomed by Minister Dodds

The Minister for Social Development, Nigel Dodds has welcomed a delegation from Lithuanian on a fact-finding mission into social security law and procedures currently in operation throughout the province.

Mr Dodds met the Lithuanian delegation at Stormont on Tuesday November 27, led by their Vice Minister for Social Issues, Ms Rasa Melnikiene.

The delegation’s primary aim is to learn how social security systems operate in Northern Ireland with a view to implementing a number of these systems in their own country. The study group are reviewing the benefit systems in place here and the SSA’s current administrative systems.

This visit to Northern Ireland is the delegation’s first stop in a weeklong study tour to various UK government departments.

Nigel Dodds, said: “I was delighted to meet Ms Melnikiene today. It is commendable that the Social Security Agency here is held in such high esteem by other countries that they wish to visit us to review our systems. I praise the hard work of the Social Security Agency and the professionalism of its employees.”

Ms Rasa Melnikiene, Vice Minister for Social Issues, said: “It is my aim to make social security procedures more effective in Lithuania and improve government support of the delivery of benefits to our people. Ultimately we aim to raise the basic economic living standards in Lithuania. This visit to Northern Ireland is very useful as it directly improves our product knowledge.”

The International Development Unit of the Health and Social Services for Northern Ireland (NICARE) is currently helping Lithuania to gain accession to the European Union. NICARE is undertaking the project in co-operation with colleagues from the SSA. (AMcE)

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