Falling maternal and child mortality rates in Lithuania
In Vilnius, Ms Ineichen-Fleisch visited a maternity clinic that is receiving support from Switzerland as part of its programme to improve healthcare for mothers and children in Lithuania (Swiss contribution: CHF 45.6 million). Under the original plan Switzerland was to modernise medical equipment and outdated hospital facilities in 22 hospitals, train hospital staff and renovate 16 hospitals according to energy efficiency standards. But thanks to the strong Swiss franc and savings in tendering procedures, 27 hospitals are receiving medical equipment upgrades and 24 are being made more energy efficient.
Improving the investment climate in Estonia
In Tallinn, the delegation met an organisational unit of the Ministry of Finance which is implementing a project to promote the application of international financial reporting and auditing standards (Swiss contribution: CHF 1.8 million). The project is helping to improve the investment climate and prevent financial crises:
- Thanks to their participation in training (in total around 5,400 participant days), authorities and associations have acquired skills in the area of international financial reporting and auditing standards.
- 306 auditors have passed reaccreditation exams.
- International standards have been translated into Estonian.
- The University of Tartu has introduced a master's programme in financial auditing.
- Newly developed auditing software simplifies the auditing process for small to medium-sized businesses.
Creating jobs in Latvia
In Riga, State Secretary Ineichen-Fleisch visited a company that had received a Swiss-Latvian microcredit programme loan. Diamond technologies LLC, a company that provides floor and furniture cleaning services, bought a diamond drill, diamond saw, perforator and cleaning equipment with a EUR 7,200 microcredit. The owner was able to expand his business and now employs three staff.
The microcredit programme (Swiss contribution: CHF 7.92 million) makes it easier for small businesses and self-employed people to obtain loans. Thanks to this Swiss contribution, more than 1,000 microcredits have been disbursed and about 2,500 jobs saved or created. Since mid-2014 the programme has been running solely on funds derived from loans already paid back.