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22 September 2017
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A far too bright picture of the present reality

By Aage Myhre, Editor-in-Chief

The above post from Val Samonis, where he compares “crisis-hit” Greece and a Lithuania supposed to be quickly recovering from the 2008 crisis, internationally praised for its austerity measures, calls for reflection.

The difference is that while the people of Greece protest and angrily demonstrate in the streets of Athens, people here only become more and more bitter, emigrate, begets crime in other countries, etc. 

Lithuania's elderly and disadvantaged people who have seen their minimum pensions drastically cut, and mothers seeing that the child benefits are completely removed as concept, they bow their necks and become even more active in growing potatoes on their garden spots outside the city instead of standing up against the government’s unfair measures against them... 

This country's politicians claim they have been the smartest in Europe by cutting in time, and not needing much of foreign loans or support  from IMF or others. But who are the ones suffering from this?

The answer is relatively clear. Baltic Times recently wrote that the parliamentarians in Lithuania enjoy EU’s second highest salaries/benefits, with only French politicians ahead. See http://www.baltictimes.com/news/articles/30094/

It is unquestionably true that things now are improving. But this happens very slowly, and one must remember that the Baltic countries were far behind the free countries of Europe in 1990 and that to bring them up the same level and standard required a much steeper growth curve here, which has not been the case despite colossal EU funding. To reach the average GDP and standards for the EU27 countries is very far away, probably 20-40 years from now.

Unemployment has begun to decline somewhat, but we are talking only about a reduction from around 18% three years ago, against 14% today. When one also knows that about 20% of the country's able-bodied labour force has emigrated during this period, there is in other words no significant improvement to be proud of. Also, many of those having a job, work in state enterprises or administration where effectiveness perhaps is about 50% of what one finds in Western countries, hence the statistics are not showing much of the real situation.

My conclusion are therefore the following:
• There are in fact no more real jobs now than it was four years ago.
• The number of productive jobs has probably gone more down than up.
• The most skilled workers have left the country and the quality of work is therefore on a downturn, hence the statistics presents a far too bright picture of today’s reality in Lithuania.

Category : Business, economy, investments sidebar / Opinions
  • Rimantas Aukstuolis

    Sadly I don't disagree with Dr. Samonis' comments or the follow -on from Aage. I do wonder, however, to what extent the Lithuanian experience varies from the Polish situation. They have high immigration in spite of somewhat better economic performance. As an idealist on the future of post communist Eastern Europe I am disappointed by the way things have been turning out. Former nomenklatura and their their claims on large sectors of the Lithuanian economy have been a factor since the beginning of independence. They not only can be criticized for not running what they have at optimal efficiency but have been guilty of blocking outside influence and investment in order to somehow insulate themselves from competition or, perhaps more importantly, political control.

    I guess I could make some kind of ethnic comment on the lack of business acumen in the Lithuanian character but that's not what I see in the immigrants who come to the US. A lot of them, perhaps most, struggle. But generally they work very hard, sometimes to the detriment of their children. However the result, here in the US is a new vibrancy, new businesses, new publications , i,e, Amerikos Lietuvis, which supports itself not by modest charitable donations but is chock full of advertising. It is difficult to pinpoint exactly why Lithuania is struggling but the young people who have chosen to immigrate are unquestionably full of energy, competence and ambition which is systematically being taken elsewhere. The Lithuanian government is doesn't seem to "get it".
    Rimantas Aukstuolis
    Cleveland, Ohio

    March 28 2012
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