Baltic economies are cooling down quickly. Baltic Economy Watch spares me time to reveal nuts and bolts of the way economy performs in 3B. I am more concerned about the way government adjusts its policy tools in order to enable balanced development of the society. So throughout early months of the 2008 Estonian coalition parties were wrangling to reach a consensus in amending the 2008 budget due to the unexpectedly sharp economic downturn. Lithuanian downturn is not as pessimistic as in Estonia and Latvia, and Lithuanian government is preparing for autumn parliamentary elections.
Contrasting news come from Latvian cabinet however. As I already reported opposition parties in Latvian Saeima demanded a special parliamentary session in order to start discussing need (!) for amendments in 2008 budget. Predicted revenues into 2008 budget were made during the high time of real estate caused housing bubble. The balance in Latvian 2008 budget was created not due to cutting red tape (the number of civil servants has increased by 70% last year), but due to taking this money from the social fund. Such actions constrains timely and deserved (from pensioners point of view) pension increases during times of high inflation.
The Latvian PM asked the parliamentarians to postpone the session due to his busy schedule whilst the Summit of the Council of the Baltic Sea States takes place in Riga today and tomorrow.
The Summit meeting is important and hosts have to perform their tasks. Nevertheless, the sorry state of Latvian domestic governance is not going to disappear.
Thus a small scorecard for a "sick man of Baltics" prior hot summer is:
- budget amendments pending;
- bureaucrats travelling around the world and "eating strawberry cakes" without proper oversight;
- as a symbol officially tax evading president still in the office;
- two popular referendums sometime this summer which could initiate snap elections;
- the chair of the Corruption Fighting Bureau (KNAB) wobbling;
-"world's most expensive bridge" still being built;
- the expensive National library project ongoing;
- teachers, policemen, doctors being suspiciously quiet;
- dairy sector representatives pouring milk in gutters (due to disagreements about payments) with promises to bring loads of cow manure in the government house if their demands are not going to be met.
These are just the most important issues the Latvian government has to deal with. On top of these there are high gas prices (hence skyrocketing food prices), huh, uhhh, quite a scorecard:)