Lithuania’s Turn For Euro

The Baltic Times
February 5, 2014

Lithuanian Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevicius said that he and Speaker of the Seimas Loreta Grauziniene agreed on euro adoption for 2015, even if earlier the speaker said that the euro could be adopted only if the minimum salary was raised, reports ELTA.

“I would not like to reveal all the details of my conversation with the speaker of the Seimas, but I can say that our conversation ended in the agreement that the euro has to be introduced in 2015,” said Butkevicius while giving an interview on national radio LRT on Jan. 14.

According to Butkevicius, the political parties claiming that Lithuania should not rush with the euro introduction were striving for political dividends. “I think that the speculation which is now taking place in the public area will be dispersed in the near future. I think that it is not the right time to speak about a referendum (..). I think that it is an attempt to win particular political points,” said the head of the government.

Butkevicius reiterated Latvia’s example, where some political parties were against the euro introduction but, as the adoption of the euro was approaching, they became more moderate. The prime minister highlighted that the attitude of the people towards the euro was improving as well in Lithuania.

He repeated that, de facto, the euro was already in Lithuania (through the litas’ tie to the euro) and, currently, there was only a need to confirm it.

According to Chairman of the Board of the Bank of Lithuania Vitas Vasiliauskas, business and the government have been preparing for the euro introduction for some time. As a result, talks about the adoption of the euro – whether to adopt the euro or not – are just to “amuse” onlookers.

“We should amuse neither Lithuania nor the entire world with such considerations. The euro adoption is not the work of one day. It does not happen with the snap of the fingers. This is a process asking for a long preparation time. Business, the institutions and the central bank are preparing for this. Various systems are reformed. It is funny and pointless to start considering whether Lithuania should adopt the euro or not when the process has already gained acceleration. Finally, the entrance into the eurozone is an inevitable process. It is clearly stated in the Treaty on the European Union (EU) that, from the moment of the entry into the Community, Lithuania joins the Economic and Monetary Union and the euro,” said Vasiliauskas to the daily Lietuvos Zinios.

According to Vasiliauskas, it is also incorrect to associate the euro with salary increases. These were two different things. The minimum salary increase and the non-increase were related to very objective economic parameters. The common perception was that the relation between the minimum salary and the average salary ratio was one-to-two. As a result, it was impossible to talk about that now. The minimum salary increase within a short period of time immediately affected the labor market, competitiveness and the whole of economic life. Therefore, there should not be any immediate or poorly founded decisions.

“There has to be very clear calculations, and so far I do not see any prerequisites for a minimum salary increase, because it has already been raised,” said the bank chairman.