Minister of Finance R. Šadžius: “In 100 days the Euro found its way not only into our wallets”

10 April 2015

Today 100 days have passed since Lithuania adopted the Euro. The Euro adoption being a success story is proven by the fact that as many as 92% of the Lithuanians felt being well informed about the adoption of the Euro, and presently 68% of respondents favourably view the common European currency (exactly a year ago the number was just around 50%). The Ministry of Finance was one of the main organisers and coordinators of the process.

“We may still calculate in mind prices in Litas, however sociological surveys show that in 100 days the Euro has found its way not only into our wallets. It has happened just like in the neighbouring countries: after the Euro adoption confidence in the currency has grown and will be growing in the future,” is confident Minister of Finance Rimantas Šadžius, who was in charge of the coordination workgroup supervising the Euro adoption from the preparation stage to the implementation. The workgroup consisted of representatives of ministries, other institutions, and the Bank of Lithuania.

No price leap was there

The biggest fear of the public that after adoption of the Euro prices of goods and services would increase did not materialise: compared to the same month of the last year, in January 2015 the annual deflation of 1.5% of all consumer goods and services (prices of services increased by 2.6%, prices of goods decreased by 2.8%) was recorded. In February 2015 the deflation was 1.8% (prices of services grew by 3.1%, prices of goods dropped down by 3.3%).

According to survey data, from September 2014 till January 2015 the number of people thinking that the Euro triggered price increase reduced from 84% to 58%.

To make sure that the public gets used to the Euro sooner, prices have been displayed mandatorily in both currencies from 22 August 2014. Statistics Lithuania have constantly monitored price changes of 1,000 goods and services, and the State Consumer Rights Protection Authority in conjunction with other 17 supervising institutions monitored how the requirements were complied with. Total of approximately 20,000 inspections were conducted; approximately 1,000 companies were given warnings for incorrectly displayed prices or other violations, 16 companies were imposed monetary fines.

The Government invited the business, municipalities, and other entities to join the fair price conversion initiative, by joining which the participants obliged to display prices fairly in both currencies, and not to use the Euro adoption as an excuse to increase prices. More than 5,000 companies and other entities running in total more than 13,600 retail sales and service outlets joined the initiative. That was 4 times more companies and organisations than in Latvia, and almost 10 times more than in Estonia.

More information – less fear

The adoption of the Euro went smoothly in Lithuania: according to the Eurobarometer data 86% of the Lithuanians believe so. In January 2015 92% of the Lithuanians felt being very well or well informed about the Euro adoption (repeating the record set earlier by Cyprus and Slovenia).

The information campaign coordinated by the Ministry of Finance reached out to 2.4 million TV viewers, 2.3 million radio listeners, 1.5 million Internet users, and 1.4 million readers of newspapers and magazines. All this was accomplished at lower than usual costs: according to the previous practice, the price of the Euro adoption information campaign was estimated at 1 Euro per capita, whereas in Lithuania the campaign cost less than 80 cents per capita, i.e. 20% less.

Litas will be exchanged for unlimited time

Those who have found remaining Litas or cents can exchange them free of charge for an unlimited time at offices of the Bank of Lithuania. More than 340 branches of commercial banks are exchanging Litas to Euro free of charge and without a limitation of amounts from 1 January 2015 till 30 June 2015. From July till December 89 branches will be exchanging the currency, however accepting banknotes only.

Prices both in Euro and Litas must be displayed at retail sales and service locations till the end of June 2015, the salespeople then can display prices at their own discretion later on.