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2019.12.16 09:40

Most Lithuanians would like a commercial state bank – survey

BNS2019.12.16 09:40

Most Lithuanians would back the establishment of a state commercial bank, a new survey has revealed.

47.9 percent of respondents said they would be in favour, 20.9 percent were against and 31.3 percent had no opinion, the survey by Vilmorus for BNS showed.

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda proposed last month to establish a state-capital bank to counter the reducing competition in the country's financial sector.

Three active market players in Lithuania have either left or merged in recent years, and now SEB and Swedbank have a market share of over 60 percent in terms of assets.

"The situation has contributed to the increase in loan margins, as well as to the significant shrinking of business crediting, with private clients in the regions getting less and less access to banking services," presidential adviser Simonas Krėpšta told BNS.

"Besides the issues of reduced competition, a state-capital bank could [...] for example, fund projects that have a positive impact on climate change, and also strategic state infrastructure projects," he added.

Krėpšta also pointed out that Lithuania already has three state-run development agencies. Currently in the EU, there are around 30 fully state-operated banks, as well as even more commercial banks with stakes owned by the government, according to Krėpšta.

However, critics say establishing a state bank would be too expensive and politicians could interfere with its operation.