THE WATERPROOF AND CRISIS-PROOF FAMILY: Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius and his wife enjoy riding a bicycle. In his annual report speech, Kubilius emphasized that “Lithuania, unlike Greece, has already passed the roughest part of its road.”
VILNIUS - On April 15, Lithuanian Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius presented in the Lithuanian parliament the annual report of his government’s activity. Never before has Lithuania heard so many superlatives about the Kubilius’ government. They were spoken by Kubilius himself.
“I am convinced that textbooks and theses for degrees will be written in the world about how we were able to manage the crisis: how to cope with a 15 percent recession and a deficit of nine percent. How to keep political and social stability, a stable currency and stable timely payment of pensions and salaries,” Kubilius said, adding that the deficit could be two times higher and Lithuania could be bankrupt if not for his measures of the so-called internal devaluation, i.e. cutting pensions and other social spending.
Kubilius emphasized that “Lithuania, unlike Greece, has already passed the roughest part of its road.” A big part of his speech was criticism of the activity of the previous Social Democrat-led government, which was in power until the fall of 2008. Kubilius blamed the Social Democrats for overspending state money on the eve of the approaching global crisis. However, he did not mention the fact that all populist propositions about social spending by the Social Democrats were doubled or tripled in their figures in the parliament by the then opposition Kubilius-led Homeland Union - Lithuanian Christian Democrats and the Order and Justice Party in the parliamentary election year of 2008. The Social Democrat-led center-left coalition then was in minority in the parliament, and was highly dependent on unofficial support from the Homeland Union - Lithuanian Christian Democrats.
Kubilius finished his speech on a high note. “Now the government starts to discuss the priorities for 2011. Of course, our main priority for 2011 will be to win Europe’s basketball championship which will be held in Lithuania. I’m sure that Lithuania can win not only the basketball championship. We can and we must win in the global competition and the race for global progress,” Kubilius said.
After the speech, MPs could ask questions and comment on the report in the parliament. “It is a long and empty report. You also claimed the future victory in basketball for yourself. Are you going to be the coach?” Vytautas Gapsys, Labor Party MP, who now occupies the rotating post of the opposition leader, asked rhetorically.
“This year for the first time Lithuania fell into the worst position among the EU states in retail sales. Even Latvia came ahead of Lithuania in February, according to Eurostat. A similar story is with the construction business,” said Algirdas Butkevicius, leader of the Social Democrats.
“Moody’s says that the recession in Lithuania was the shortest among the Baltic states,” Kubilius answered Butkevicius.
Experts point out that Kubilius and his patron, President Dalia Grybauskaite, deals with crisis in a simple way: by expensive borrowing in the foreign markets. In the middle of 2009, Lithuanian debt equaled 22 percent of the country’s GDP, while it will be 40 percent at the end of 2010, according to the Lithuanian Free Market Institute. According to Ruta Vainiene, president of the institute, such inventions by Kubilius as Compulsory Health Insurance (CHI), which unexpectedly became public in March, forcing hundreds of thousands of emigres and non-registered with the Labor Exchange unemployed people to be indebted to the state, was a “spit into the face” of emigres. The fact that the Internet petition against the CHI’s absurdity was signed by more than 43,000 people, a majority of whom live in Lithuania, this was not a spit only at the emigres.
Vainiene emphasized that the only good achievement of the Kubilius government is the stability of the litas. However, she does not explain why Poland, the country which devalued its currency by one-third during the crisis, was the only EU country which managed to avoid recession, and even to keep its economy growing during the global crisis. Anyway, it is obvious that the stability of the litas was in the interest of banks which operate in Lithuania - they have tremendous influence on Kubilius’ government.