Kovno (Jan. 23)
So far as the action of the Ministry of the Interior in ceasing to issue labour permits to aliens is concerned, we as citizens of Lithuania can only welcome it, when we consider that it is intended in that way to provide employment for Lithuanian citizens, Dr. L. Soloweitchik, speaking for the Federation of Manufacturers in Lithuania said at a Conference of leaders of Commerce and Industry in the country held here on the initiative of the Chamber of Commerce, with the participation of representatives of the Ministries of the Interior and of Finance, to consider the measures adopted by the Government to restrict the entry of aliens into the country to take up employment.
Business and industrial circles are very much concerned about the Government’s intentions, the President of the Chamber, M, Dobkewitchius, said, insofar as the new policy issued would affect the issue of labour permits to experts from abroad. They held that with the best will in the world to give employment to Lithuanian experts, it was impossible to obtain them, and they must be allowed to employ experts from abroad if Lithuanian industry was not to collapse.
Dr. Soloweitchik also urged that the question of the foreign experts was one of the utmost importance. They wanted to urge the Minister of the Interior to proceed very carefully. Their industry was very young, and they did not have the experts they required on the spot. They were bound by contracts. They had expended a great deal of money, and they asked the Government not to make their task too difficult. Enterprises like breweries, for example, could not exist at all without the help of foreign experts. They agreed that something must be done to train their own people as experts, but that needed time, and for the present it was impossible to replace the foreign experts by Lithuanian citizens. A number of other speakers put a similar point of view.
The Rapporteur for Foreign Affairs in the Ministry of the Interior, M. Aleknawitchius, replying to the various speakers, said that the Ministry of the Interior had no intention to place difficulties in the way of industry. It was interested, however, in seeing that those aliens who were in the country in their capacity as experts, should train Lithuanian citizens to do their work, and they wanted the industrialists also to see that it was done. If the Ministry was convinced that any particular expert was essential to the carrying on of a certain industrial enterprise, there would be no difficulty about issuing him a labour permit. They had come across many cases, however, of permits being asked for to bring into the country engineers from abroad, and the holders of the permits being afterwards found to be working as book-keepers or foreign correspondence clerks in Lithuania. They had to do something to provide employment for their own citizens. Lithuanian citizens were being sent out of Germany and France, and emigration from Lithuania had fallen by 75 percent., and if they did not see that Lithuanian citizens should get whatever employment there was going in the country, they would find themselves in a catastrophic position.
Dr. Soloweitchik said that he agreed that if application was made for an engineer and it was found that he was being employed as a book-keeper or foreign correspondence clerk, action should be taken by the Government to put a stop to such a state of affairs.
The general tone of the meeting was that the Government was right in its general attitude on the question, but should exercise care in regard to the admission of foreign experts to avoid doing injury to Lithuanian industry.