The professionals’ path is not aligned with that of the political roosters. Who is it aligned with then? “You Will Know Them by Their Fruits.” (Matthew 7:16) The electoral flowers of 2016 promised the fruits. It seemed, with earnest disappointment, that for a whole year, we will have to suffer with the previous government’s budget plan.
And so, here comes the second self-made budget. What of it? They say that failing to approve it will cause a crisis in the country. No, it will not because a public finance crisis has long been created and admitted since the times of A. Brazauskas. And the budget is from the same times, with taxes it is 30% of the GDP. The country is faced not with a budget crisis, but demographic catastrophe or social depression.
Only communications thrive. There is no intelligent talk about the budget’s relative sizes, percentage. Millions are only bandied about – a few for you, a dozen for you and a few tens for you. What of it? Take the poorest of the poor – disabled retirees – many disabled from childhood and unable to even earn the meagre Sodra pension. Millions for them too. An entire three, though there are 60 thousand retirees (based on a Ministry of Social Security and Labour presentation at a conference by the Bočiai organisation). An entire 4.2 euro per month! Such is the value of millions, an illusion.
It is not coincidence that the relatively low budget to GDP ratio of Ireland is a beacon for not only A. Kubilius, but also V. Šapoka because the values are the same. You think the background differs? V. Šapoka ceremoniously stated on the LRT Forum, “I am a fan of a small public sector.”
What is in common between this thesis and the government programme approved in Seimas, where it was committed to aim for the EU average social commitment metric, with the EU average social security spending being 19.5% GDP, while Lithuania only spends 11.5%. When the difference is eight percentage points and will be reduced by 0.5% over three years, for how many years did they set out the programme of this government, which will work to 2020?
They were shocked after calculating that some 300 million euro are needed for teachers’ wages? However, the same government has committed to spend at least ten times more on social security.
So what then is in common between a fan of a small public sector and the Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union?
A party, which spoke for culture, education, social aid and overall harmony, raising the people’s hopes with a convincing future prime minister? The voters were expectant to make use of an occasion to get revenge on the cabinets, which tormented them. If A. Kubilius’ had mitigating circumstances in the form of a crisis, A. Butkevičius appeared to have had seemingly sadistic inclinations to continue pressing down on the people when the economy had already risen up.
So what did these voters get? Another historic phrase from the minister of finance: “A billion for a million.” And a calculator on the Ministry of Finance page, which shows how it will be shared out. Adding 14 to 400 and 104 to 400 euro. (What else is possible when you corner yourself so with the budget? At least amendments to citizen income tax, which would remove tax breaks for large incomes already growing by significant figures) But is everything ok in that calculator for the party? Is it their government or is it that of the minister they hailed?
There are those, who are content with such a budget, such annual, almost cosmetic tax reforms, such division. Yes, the largest and usually the most active – experts from commercial banks, business organisation economists and chiefs are contently silent. The budget is ok for them, the tax (non)reforms are ok. Just the same as those of prior governments. For marketing purposes, pension funds grumble about pension reform a little and here you go – free advertising at the ministry’s Facebook page.
R. Karbauskis promised a person, who will represent the “bottoms” as his presidential candidate. He is probably uninterested in who leads the cabinet. Probably more interested in the bickering.
Finally, educated people representing the public sector and public interest take to the streets and perhaps they will “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.” (Matthew 7:15) The wolves did not go anywhere, they won all and unfortunately also the latest elections.