VILNIUS 's Lithuanian Prime Minister Gediminas Kirkilas has denied an expert forecast that his minority government will not last until the next parliamentary elections due in 2008.
The doom-laden prediction came from the Economist Intelligence Unit, part of the influential British business publication The Economist.
EIU analysts predict that real GDP growth will slow from an estimated 7.3 percent in 2006 to 6.5 percent in 2007 and to 6.4 percent in 2008. They expect fiscal policy will tighten slightly in 2007 to restrain inflation, then loosen moderately in 2008, owing to tax cuts and pre-election spending.
The current government 's Lithuania's fourteenth since independence in 1991 's has been led by Social Democrat Gediminas Kirkilas since 2006. The prime minister's post and seven ministerial posts belong to the Social Democrats, three to the Farmers' Union, two to Liberal Centrists and one to the Civil Democrats.
The minority government has 58 seats in the parliament, but it is supported by the formally oppositional Homeland Union, which have 24 seats in parliament.
The Conservatives have signed an agreement with the Social Democrats, by which they have obliged to support the minority government.
Kirkilas was quick to question the EIU's figures and conclusions.
"I read the forecasts myself and they are based on false presumptions. I do not know where they got those numbers," the Prime Minister said.
"First of all, the growth of our economy this year already exceeds 8 percent. Somehow Lithuanian statistics do not get into the foreign media," the prime minister told Ziniu Radijas news radio July 25.
Kirkilas acknowledged that it may not be easy for the government to last until the next parliamentary elections that will take place in fall 2008, but in his words, "democracy is democracy, anything can happen."
With a 'revolving door' policy seeming to operate for Lithuanian governments over the last decade, Kirkilas' administration has brought a modicum of stability when it was sorely needed. After a year in power, only only one minister has been changed and most commentators agree that Kirkilas has done a good job.
Ironically, in January he was praised as an unsung hero whose "minority administration has surpassed all expectations." The source of such glowing praise? The Economist.