Lithuanians Have Record Cash Stash in Pockets, Central Bank Says

Lithuanians celebrated year-end holidays with more cash in their pockets than ever before as the Baltic nation’s economy expanded at one of the fastest paces in the European Union, the central bank said.

Litai bills and coins in circulation reached a record value of 11.64 billion litai ($4.5 billion), the Bank of Lithuania in Vilnius said today in an e-mailed statement. That’s more than $1,500 cash on hand for every person in the country of 2.97 million, according to Bloomberg calculations.

The Lithuanian government that took office in December is considering legal limits on cash transactions to prevent untaxed “gray economy” payments and boost revenue. The central bank, which in November forecast that the economy would grow 3 percent in 2012, said there was 5.4 percent more cash in circulation at Dec. 31 than a year earlier.

“I’d link the increase more to economic growth than to the shadow economy,” Alis Jaramaitis, head of cash service at the Bank of Lithuania, said by telephone. “After all, it’s not just cash that’s increasing, but also bank deposit amounts.”

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