Business Lunch with the Minister of Finance of the Republic of Lithuania - Rimantas Sadzius

On Friday, 17 January 2014, the Norwegian, Danish, Swedish and Finnish Chambers of Commerce organised a joint business lunch with the Minister of Finance of the Republic of Lithuania – Rimantas Šadžius. During the meeting, the Minister presented this year’s state budget and discussed it with the participants, the Norwegian-Lithuanian Chamber of Commerce and The Lithuania Tribune reported.

It is quite a common practice in the Nordic countries that at the beginning of the year a budget presentation event is organised. It is usually followed by  the active participations of both:  the country’s major corporate executives  and small businessmen. All they have the same aim – to find out which way the country’s largest investor – state – heads. 

Of course, it is also a chance to express their views and to discuss with the authorities. Therefore, by following this model, the presentation of 2014 budget was organised for Nordic Investors in Lithuania. 

The Minister of Finance introduced to the guests the main data of the Lithuania’s economic performance indicating that the Baltic countries are going to maintain the highest GDP growth in the EU for next few years.  One of the reasons for that might have been a deep slump of the Baltic economies in the recent financial crisis.

Minister Šadžius also expressed his satisfactions with the fact that Lithuania’s GDP structure has undergone a major change; the construction segment is not that important for the Lithuania’s GDP any longer.  According to him, this is a rather welcoming development.

While presenting the 2014 budget, Šadžius expressed a wish that by 2016 the budget should become ‘balanced’.  Lithuania will continue to borrow and in 2014 the borrowing will reach 42,5 per cent of GDP.  However, in 2015 it should recede to 40,9 per cent.  According to the Minister, this year’s budget is not planning any major cuts in spending; he also predicted that in 2014 the wages will grow by 5.1 per cent and in 2015 by 5.8 per cent.

It was further highlighted that the EU structural funds will still play a significant part in Lithuania’s economy.  Nevertheless, the Minister announced that Lithuania is already working on the financing engineering schemes in order to increase their value.  It should not be only about absorbing as many funds as possible, but about a better practical appropriation of those.

The Minister assured the audience that Lithuania is going to introduce the Euro in 2015; it is already complying with the Maastricht criteria and it is very likely that by July of this year the EU institutions will give a green light for it. One of the problems is public’s scepticism toward the Euro, but this tendency should change by the end of the year, the Minister thinks.  The Minister of Finance reminded the audience that there is a very good example just next door in Latvia regarding swings of the public opinions about the Euro.

Minister Šadžius said that there is an agreement between Lithuania and Latvia in helping each other; Lithuania will help Latvia with its preparation for the Presidency of the European Council in 2015. Latvia will share its experience in the Euro introduction.  The Minister expressed his hope that by the end of this year 60 per cent of Lithuanians will support the Euro introduction.  “We are getting ready for an information campaign, but not for the Euro Propaganda Campaign,” the Minister said.

Almost 60 meeting participants, alongside the Minister of Finance, actively discussed main priorities of the 2014 budget and the most actual topic – the preparation for the Euro changeover in 2015.

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