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Baltic States: Economies Are More Private Than Public

Washington, 3 October 1996 (RFE/RL) -- The three Baltic nations -- Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia -- have economies which are far more private than public, says Latvian Minister of Economics Guntars Krasts.

The three are aiming for complete economic integration with the European Union.

Speaking on behalf of the Baltic states to the annual meetings of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Washington yesterday, Krasts said that the Latvian economy has recovered quickly from last year's banking crisis and has made significant progress in fiscal consolidation. He said that includes a government draft budget for 1997 with a zero deficit.

Estonia, he said, has accelerated its structural reforms, particularly in the area of privatization of medium and large-scale enterprises, and growth this year is estimated at 3 to 5 percent.

In Lithuania, said Grasts, growth is expected to be about 4.5 percent this year, and inflation has declined to 20 percent annually. He said Lithuania has embarked on the second stage of privatization for cash and the government is now moving toward allowing foreigners to own land.

The minister said all three nations aimed to be an important trade link between East and West and are starting to put considerable resources into upgrading their physical infrastructures to create an effective transport corridor.