VILNIUS – Lithuania's economy will grow, inflation will ease, and pensions, salaries and people's purchasing power will increase in 2014, Finance Minister Gintare Skaiste said on Tuesday while presenting next year's draft state budget to the parliament.
The return of EU fiscal discipline rules in 2024 was a key criterion in drawing up the budget, according to Skaiste.
"This means that we have to comply with the Maastricht criteria. One of them, which is probably the key one in our situation, is to keep the budget deficit within 3 percent (of GDP)," she said.
Skaiste noted that since the beginning of the current parliamentary term, funding for national defense has doubled from 1 billion euros to 2 billion euros, and public sector salaries, and pensions have been increased significantly.
"In 2024, we expect that the economy will expand and growth will reach 1.7 percent of GDP, while inflation will slow down," the minister said.
"Next year, we forecast an average annual inflation rate of 2.9 percent and average wage growth of around 6.5 percent," she added.
The government says that most of the additional budget spending will be allocated to pensioners, social benefit recipients and teachers, and for aid to Ukraine which is fighting back against Russia's military aggression.
In 2024, state revenue is projected to grow by 9.4 percent to 17 billion euros and expenditure by 7.9 percent to 20.5 billion euros. The budget deficit is estimated at 2.9 percent of GDP, higher than this year. General government debt is planned at 39.8 percent of GDP.
The parliament is scheduled to hold its first budget debate on November 14 and the second one on November 2023, with a final vote planned for December 5.