VILNIUS - Lithuania's gross domestic product soared by 9 percent in 2003, a slightly higher revision on data released earlier and a record rate for the country since it regained its independence in 1991, according to preliminary data released by the statistics department last week.
"What is particularly important is that Lithuania's sustained economic growth has created positive and optimistic expectations among business entities, which encourages them to borrow and invest money, and becomes a value in itself and an important factor driving economic growth," Gitanas Nauseda, adviser to the president of Vilniaus Bankas, said.
Lithuania's economy surged by 10.6 percent in the fourth quarter of 2003, versus the same period in 2002.
In late January, the statistics department released preliminary data showing that GDP growth reached 8.9 percent last year, compared with 6.8 percent in 2002.
For the full year 2003, GDP totaled 55.7 billion litas (16.1 billion euros).
On a per capita basis, GDP amounted to 16,136 litas, a 9.4 percent increase over the previous year. In the fourth quarter it rose by 11 percent year-on-year to 4,324 litas.
"Last year GDP growth was driven primarily by processes on the domestic market, such as strong domestic investment and private consumption, which grew thanks to a record high level of crediting compared with previous years," said Nauseda.
The Finance Ministry raised its 2004 growth forecast to 7 percent in February.
Both Vilniaus Bankas, Lithuania's biggest commercial bank, and Nord/LB Lietuva, the third-largest bank, forecast that the economy will expand by 6.8 percent this year.