THE VOICE OF INTERNATIONAL LITHUANIA
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By Val Samonis
Before they realized what is going on and who was robbing them, the Lithuanian people got clubbered by PM Kubilius’ ambitious austerity policy and the younger ones started emigrating in catastrophic numbers, seeing no future in the country whose GDP was reduced (from a low post-Soviet level) by some 20% by the combination of the old nomenklatura rent-seeking policies and the global Great Recession. Lithuania is hollowing out, unfortunately.
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.
Friday the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania decided to appoint Vitas Vasiliauskas as the Chairman of the Board of the Bank of Lithuania. The decision comes into force as of 16 April 2011.
The current Chairman of the Board of the Bank of Lithuania Reinoldijus Šarkinas congratulated Vitas Vasiliauskas on this occasion.
“I wished the new Chairman of the Board of the Bank of Lithuania all the best”, said Reinoldijus Šarkinas.
The Chairman of the Board of the Bank of Lithuania is appointed for a term of five years by the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania upon nomination by the President. The number of the terms of office is not limited.
Reinoldijus Šarkinas has been holding the position of the Chairman of the Board of the Bank of Lithuania since 15 February 1996. After the end of his term of office, the Seimas has authorised Reinoldijus Šarkinas to continue working as the Chairman of the Board of the Bank of Lithuania until 15 April 2011.
In connection to this year’s Lithuanian Independence Day, it might be of your interest to know that in 1938 there was printed an unissued ten litu banknote commemorating the 20th anniversary of Lithuanian independence 1918-1938.
President Smetona and the Declaration of Independence is on the note’s face, and the Council of Lithuania is on the back. Smetona is interred in a mausoleum in Ohio.
Submitted by Frank Passic, Albion, Michigan.
The total spending in 2011 will stand at more than 36 billion litas, and earnings – at 31 billion litas. The task of the public finance deficit in 2011 is 5.8% of the gross domestic product (GDP), informs LETA/ELTA.
In 2011, the national budget revenue (including state and municipal budgets) will total 19 billion 907.8 million litas, and costs – 22 billion 468 million litas. Next year, the expenditures of the SoDra budget will stand at 13 billion 576 million litas (out of which 2 billion 407 million litas will be transferred to the Compulsory Health Insurance Fund), and revenues – at 10 billion 943 million litas.
This book by Dr. Antanas J. Van Reenan at the University of Chicago analyzes the dynamics of their Lithuanian Diaspora mentality
Lithuania’s aspirations to sustainable development are dependent on availability of qualified and experienced human and financial resources. At present the country is experiencing shortages of both if to meet the demand of the expansion of new businesses and jobs. The two major causes for the shortage are (a) limited foreign investments, and (b) the massive exodus of highly qualified professionals over the last two decades. These have depleted Lithuania’s human capital leading to compromise in quality and global competitiveness. Engaging the brain power of its professionals in the Diaspora is one approach to ensure the fulfilment of the country’s quest for growth. In this regard, Lithunia requires strategic collaboration, partnership and networking among all its stakeholders. The Lithuanian Diaspora, including their second and third generations, are among the critical resources whose maximum mobilization and engagement are indispensible.
Since 2004 EPSI Baltic has been monitoring the pulse of the consumer trends in the Baltic region. Here is their latest conclusion regarding bank customer satisfaction:
“We may conclude, that majority of observed banks should concentrate on re-establishing of trustful relationships with their customers in Lithuania. In Latvia, only SEB and Nordea managed to gain some ground in terms of consumer loyalty, while Parex, suffers from the biggest loyalty drop with more than 14 points, this is the record for the entire industry for the last five years.”
The Lithuanian banking market remained weak throughout 2010. Erkki Raasuke, Swedbank AB’s chief financial officer, reportedly commented at a recent conference in Tallinn that the Lithuanian banking market, though the Baltic nations’ weakest, still bleeds quite badly. He also noted that Estonia’s market was recovering, while Latvia had bottomed out. The bank said that it expects to return to profit in Estonia first. Lithuania’s market still bleeds quite badly today, mainly the retail market that is tied to the high unemployment, Raasuke said. Loans overdue for more than 60 days are still growing in Lithuania.
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