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100 days of the Chicu cabinet – opinions on achievements and failures

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The deputies of the political bloc ACUM have blocked, on Friday, the Parliament’s rostrum protesting against the Prime Minister Ion Chicu report on the Cabinet of Ministers first 100 days in office. The report was supposed to be presented during the parliamentary plenum, without any prior announcement, instead of the requested hearing of Minister of Foreign Affairs, Aureliu Ciocoi.

The Ciocoi hearing in the Parliament was requested due to the scandal caused by the statements he made, several weeks ago, according to which the Russian army intervened in the Transnistria war “to stop the bloodshed.”

That angered the war veterans who demanded the minister’s resignation, while the political bloc ACUM brought a censure motion against the Minister of Foreign Affairs. However, the motion was not supported by democrats and socialists and the hearing was denied.

Because Parliament’s rostrum was blocked, Ion Chicu said he would present the activity report from his seat.

Chicu’s first 100 days in office

One of the greatest achievements announced by the Government led by Ion Chicu is the outstanding constructive cooperation of the Government with the Parliament and the Presidency. The President of the Republic of Moldova, Igor Dodon, the President of the Parliament, Zinaida Greceanii and Prime Minister Ion Chicu traditionally hold a weekly meeting. Therefore, the topics announced by Dodon in press briefings are quickly approved by the Government, and even faster voted in the Parliament.

The Cabinet of Ministers led by Prime Minister Ion Chicu made several important promises at the begging of its mandate related to social and judicial reforms, transport infrastructure repair and modernisation, new funds invested in the country, etc.

Still, the reality presents a system that enables the Prosecutor General to be promptly elected in a questionable competition – 4 days after voting the new Cabinet of Ministers led by Ion Chicu, the new Minister of Justice, Fadei Nagacevschi, announced that the contest results, that were previously declared as vicious by the former Minister of Justice, have been declared valid and the new Prosecutor General was to be chosen from the list.

Also, it reveals a failure to establish a good relationship with foreign partners and to benefit from their support. Prime Minister Ion Chicu managed to pay official visits to the EU institutions in Strasbourg, as well as accompany the president of the country in his official visits to Russia and Turkey, as well as the Government managed to host several important visits of the IMF, EU institutions, the Venice Commission, etc.

Nevertheless, the recent message of Deputy Managing Director for Europe and Central Asia at the European External Action Service (EEAS), Luc Pierre Devigne, to the Moldovan Government was clear: the EU support is and will be conditioned by the Government’s real achievements, not promises and excuses.

MPs positions

The deputies of the Party of Socialists of the Republic of Moldova (PSRM), who form the minority government, expressed their support for the Government led by Prime Minister Chicu. “We see that he [Ion Chicu] makes the maximum effort to start that engine of the national economy. He had several bilateral meetings with his counterparts from different states. […] Certainly this Government is much better than the previous one. Overall, I think it’s a good Government, based on the realities we have in the Republic of Moldova. […] There have been several social initiatives and there will be others that will come to improve the business environment. So it is a positive dynamic,” said the socialist MP Grigore Novac for ZdG.

The parliamentary opposition has a different opinion though. The representative of the Dignity and Truth Platform Party, Alexandru Slusariqualified the Government as an antisocial one. “It has enabled up to 45% increase in tariffs for interurban transport, reduction of payments for 400 thousand pensioners and significant and unjustified increase in fuel prices. It is a corrupt government that has organised a series of bids for road rehabilitation without funding sources and in violation of public procurement law. It took over from the government of Vladimir Plahotniuc many criminal economic schemes within the state-owned enterprises, especially in Metalferos. This government has done nothing to improve the investigation of the bank fraud. It is a government of international isolation.”

The democrats, as part of the former government, said that they had higher expectations regarding the implemented economic projects and judicial reforms, while there were irreparable errors in the state’s external relations.

Experts’ opinions

At the same time, the experts criticised the way the current Government handles the situation and its populist statements.

The political analyst Veaceslav Berbeca remarked that the actions of Chicu’s cabinet were always under the shadow of the president’s decisions. “The basic purpose of the Chicu Government is to do everything to secure a new mandate for Dodon. This Government is very dependent on Dodon’s whims, which is manifested especially in foreign policy,” the expert pointed out.

“The fact that the Government has a merely closed character and, therefore, does not have decisive support from external partners, is a minus, because it has not even managed to gather its internal resources to handle on its own,” commented the economic analyst Viorel Gârbu for ZdG.

“The Chicu government makes more populist statements to the detriment of executive power. He executes indications and is not responsible for the executive power. He has given the control of the Government to President Dodon,” affirmed the doctor in law Teodor Cârnaț.

Photo: sputnik.md

Society

Quarantined in a Moldovan village – the paradox of measures imposed by authorities

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The Republic of Moldova registered, according to the most updated information from the Ministry of Health, Labour and Social Protection, 591 confirmed cases, 190 suspected cases and 9 deaths because of COVID-19. The cases are spread all over the country, but most of cases are concentrated in 3 risk areas – Chisinau, which includes 39% of the cases of infection, Stefan Voda – 14% of cases and Soroca – 12% of all cases.

As Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) reported, 18 971 persons are isolated at home and 5 632 persons were verified regarding the way they are isolated.

At the same time, there are several cities and villages in Moldova where the local authorities have imposed partial or full lockdown due to the registered deaths related to coronavirus outbreaks. While the Government never clearly reported on what happens in such localities, some local authority representatives and residents started to talk about the quarantine situation.

They say that police patrol cars were placed at the entrance and exit of localities and no one can leave or enter the village or city, without a good reason. The public transportation and all public and private entities, except medical offices, post offices and groceries stores, stopped their activity.

The paradox of Balceana

People of Balceana village, Hancesti district, one of the first villages from Moldova where the lockdown was installed, told ZdG that things have changed a lot since the first day of lockdown. At the moment, all their activities are forbidden: they can no longer receive medicine packages from their relatives and they cannot perform their farming activities related to cultivating crops – one of their main source of obtaining food throughout the year.

Moreover, in order to be able to leave or enter the village, to move or pick up packages from the improvised station when entering the village, people must hold and present to the police officers a permit issued by the City Hall. However, the mayor of the village said that he received the prohibition to issue such permits for local people from the MIA officials.

“I have the indication that no permit is issued to any person, because we are quarantined. Only sick people leave the village with an ambulance and only those who are recovered and healthy, holding a medical certificate from a doctor, can enter the village.”

The mayor of Balceana village said that the situation in which people got in is a “terrible one” and that he hardly manages to cope with the complaints coming from villagers. Some villagers must pay back their bank loans. For that they would need to continue to work their lands, which they are not allowed to do due to not holding permits issued by mayor. The mayor is not allowed by authorities to issue such permits.

The paradox exists while the quarantine instructions allow short trips for acquiring food, medicines, for obtaining medical assistance, going to the funeral of relatives or farming activities. The situation got so confusing, that the officers do not allow people to perform even officially permitted activities without the authorisation that is impossible to be obtained.

The MIA response

The officials of the MIA claimed that an internal service investigation was initiated after the declarations were published by ZdG. Secretary of State of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Mariana Grama, denied that the situation is so serious, stating that people do have access to medicines and food, while restrictions are imposed because people do not follow precautionary measures.

“The permit is required for those who have to work lands. The lands are on the hills, outside the locality. […] The mayor has to confirm that a person owns a land parcel outside the territory of Balceana village and that he allows him to perform agricultural activities,” mentioned Grama.

The permits, according to the official, are not issued for persons that want to go to the doctor, as they declare one thing and go somewhere else, that being proved by the police monitoring system in several cases, reported Mariana Grama for ZdG. “People from the village want to go to other localities to buy products, they want to go to the district market, to the bank, to the capital city and I told the mayor that nobody has the right to leave the village, this is what quarantine regime means,” she added.

“I understand, human rights and fundamental freedoms are restricted during state of emergency, but this is to ensure the security of other citizens as well, who are outside the quarantine zone.”

Blocked roads in Cocieri and Corjova

Beside the fact police patrol cars were placed at the entrance of every quarantined village, in Cocieri and Corjova – two villages located in Transnistria – a part of the roads connecting them with other regions were blocked, noted the Promo-LEX association in a press release.

Source: Promo-LEX association

The association mentioned that, on the main roads, the customs officers blocked the access, while on the adjacent roads, concrete blocks  or other artificially created impediments to prevent circulation were created. “Because of access prohibition, several categories of people who imperatively need to circulate are affected: doctors and pharmacists, farmers, but also people who work in state institutions. In addition, the consequences of blocking the roads are also affecting the inhabitants of the nearby villages,” is mentioned in the press release.

Blocked salaries of teachers from Transnistria

There are eight schools with teaching in Romanian in the Transnistrian region, which are directly financed from the public budget of the Republic of Moldova.

One of the serious challenges for the employees of these schools is that there are no ATMs in the region that would allow people to withdraw cash from the bank cards issued by Moldovan banks. These cards are not recognized in Transnistria. Usually, teachers go to the Moldovan side, withdraw cash from the ATMs and then exchange it in Transnistrian rubles.
“We got in touch with the Reintegration Bureau and we hope to be able pass on the right side of the Dniester to withdraw our salaries, otherwise teachers will run out of money,” said Ion Iovcev, the director of one of these schools.

Moreover, lack of money could lead to complete isolation. The director says that if, this month, the teachers are not be able to pay for internet services, they will not be able carry out the process of remote teaching.

Funerals with high risk of contagion

One of the reasons people get infected with COVID-19 and die in Moldova is their hospitalisation in the same section with confirmed or suspected patients. That was the case of a woman from Stefan-Voda district who was sent home in isolation after being hospitalised together with COVID-19 patients. “She died in quarantine at home, but it’s known that she was in contact with COVID-19 patients,” explained the mayor of the village she is from.

The mayor claimed that for seven hours, since the woman had died, no one came to test her for confirmation or rejection of the virus and that the woman was in contact with other 26 persons. The mayor also mentioned that there is no special protective equipment in the locality for persons to be involved in the process of burial of the woman. Therefore, even more people risk to get infected.

Photo: moldova.org

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Diaspora

Commission for Emergency Situations: first pay medical insurance, then enter the country

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Starting April 1, all persons returning from abroad are be obliged to commit to buy medical insurance before taking their first step on the Moldovan land. This decision was taken by the Commission for Emergency Situations of the Republic of Moldova.

On March 31, the official mechanism of bringing home the Moldovan citizens who have been blocked abroad was approved.

According to the provision no. 10 approved by the Commission for Emergency Situations, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration is in charge of making the lists of Moldovan citizens who have been blocked abroad, the Civil Aeronautical Authority must coordinate the charter flights organisation, while the airline operators have to verify the insurance status of the persons and admit on board only those who paid the compulsory health insurance fee through the governmental system mpay.gov.md.

Therefore, all persons arriving from abroad are obliged to buy medical insurance, regardless of where they come from and whether they arrive by air or by land. Citizens who intend to cross the state border by air have to pay the compulsory health insurance fee before entering the country, while those who cross the state border by land are obliged to fill in a declaration that the fee will be paid within 72 hours.

The Party of Action and Solidarity (PAS) notified the Court of Appeal regarding the decision of the Commission for Emergency Situations, saying that the decision is unconstitutional and illegal. “There is no such legal provision that allows the authorities to prohibit people from returning to their home. They are citizens of the Republic of Moldova and such pretexts that if you do not have medical insurance you cannot take a plane ticket and you cannot land in Moldova are intolerable,” said Maia Sandu, the PAS leader, for Jurnal TV.

The measure regarding the health insurance fee payment was commented by the political expert Dionis Cenuşă as well. The specialist says that there is a violation of fundamental human rights.

“Restricting Moldovans’ access to the country if they do not pay for healthcare insurance may have serious implications concerning human rights. […] It is true that the authorities can apply restrictions, including on how Moldovan citizens can return to the country. But, at the same time, the law clearly states that restrictions should not be applied according to a series of criteria, including that of social origin. In other words, when the Commission decided to introduce a payment obligation for healthcare, it automatically produces effects on the people who are forced to return to the country, because they are economic migrants. Therefore, the adopted measure has a discriminatory effect on the principle of social origin because Moldovan emigrants are targeted and, at the same time, because they may be lacking financial resources upon returning to the country,” stated the political expert.

On the other hand, Prime Minister Ion Chicu claimed that all citizens of the Republic of Moldova are obliged to pay the health insurance fee and that Moldovans who come back from abroad are not an exception. “This is not a discrimination, it is about law enforcement,” the prime minister declared for TV8.

The restrictive measure is especially important now, when thousands of Moldovan citizens have lost their jobs abroad and their source of income. Instead of finding the optimal solutions to protect these citizens and ensure their possibility to return home safely, the authorities restrict their constitutional right by conditioning the borders crossing.

The health insurance annual payment in Moldova is currently 4 056 lei (about 204 euro).

Photo: moldova.europalibera.org

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Important

The desperate call of Moldovan doctors and the reasons why medical system can’t resist for too long

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The first medical employee from the Republic of Moldova, Ecaterina Litvinschi – a 79-year-old woman who died because of coronavirus – was buried these days. The woman worked as a medical emergency doctor at at a National Center for Emergency Medicine for about 35 years. According to her relatives’ declarations, she was buried on the edge of a Chisinau cemetery, in a special area where those contaminated with coronavirus were expected to be buried:

sector 277, tomb no. 1

“Historically, those who end their days by suicide were buried on the far side or outside the cemetery. Is that an “honour” attached to a hero doctor?” wondered a relative of the deceased doctor.

Also, the relatives of the medical emergency doctor mentioned that the hospital administration, where the victim was previously hospitalised, insisted to not disclose the fact that Ecaterina was infected being on call to an already infected person, without special equipment and without being warned by the emergency service 112.

Not enough protective measures for medical staff

Out of the currently confirmed 298 cases of infections with COVID-19, 60 are medical workers, according to the information provided by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Social Protection. Moreover, until two days ago, authorities refused to present information on cases of COVID-19 infection among medical workers, giving assurances that doctors have protective equipment and urging journalists not to seek sensations.

The National Ombudsman Mihail Cotorobai made a request addressed to Prime Minister Ion Chicu, in which he informed about the intention of a high number of doctors to submit letter of resignation due to the lack of the protective equipment, which would provide safe working conditions to the medical personnel.

Mihail Cotorobai asked to urgently identify additional funds to ensure protective measures against COVID-19 contagion, both at the level of hospital medical institutions and at the level of primary health care centres. “The recommended measures are imperative both to ensure the patients’ right to high-quality medical services, as well as to ensure safety of the employees of the health system who are put at major risk of contagion due to non-working conditions,” the Ombudsman said.

Currently, six medical institutions in the country are being involved in the treatment of coronavirus patients. Next week other district and municipal medical institutions will be delegated to hospitalise infected patients. The authorities announced that a triage centre is prepared to be organised at the Moldexpo Exhibition Center. By Wednesday, it will be fully equipped, including with 700 beds.

“The number of confirmed cases is increasing, we reiterate the call to citizens to be very cautious. We are sure that if we follow the rules, we will not allow a jump in coronavirus cases and we will have the capacity to handle the situation. This gloomy scenario can be avoided if we are supportive. It is clear that we will overcome this situation, and the authorities and citizens will make the necessary efforts,” stated the prime minister during a press conference.

The announcement of the prime minister sounded optimistic. More and more desperate calls appear online though, being posted by journalists, politicians, artists, regarding the precarious situation in the medical institutions of the Republic of Moldova. Most of them are made anonymously, as medical workers fear to lose their jobs.

The member of the Parliament Radu Marian posted on social media, on March 28, a message sent to him by a person whose mother works as a nurse at the municipal hospital in Balti (one of the hospitals involved in the treatment of coronavirus patients).

“My mother is scared to go to work. She receives one mask for 24 hours and 2 pairs of gloves without other equipment. They write something else on the paper. It’s like fighting on a battlefield without any weapons. […] I wrote to you as a child who is afraid of losing his mother because of the incompetence of the authorities and because of the situation in the hospitals of Moldova,” is said in the message.

According to the data presented by the authorities, during this weekend, there were reported the most cases of infection per day since the beginning of the epidemic in Moldova.

Not enough resources

Doctor in medical sciences, specialist in Intensive Care, Tihon Moraru called on the authorities to take urgent measures on acquiring the necessary equipment for managing the patients in need for intensive care. He mentioned that in order to be able to provide the necessary treatment to 50-100 critical patients, there is a need of at least 30 to 40 high performance mechanical ventilators, produced in the USA, Germany or Japan.

“I am afraid that we are late by 3-4 weeks, it will be very difficult for the equipment to be brought to the country. This can only be achieved by the authorities of our country and as quickly as possible. […] I believe that the maximum number of hospitalisations for the serious and critical patients will be between the middle of April and the beginning of May, which is why this devices of vital necessity must be brought to the country as urgently as possible. […] They are very necessary for the intensive care units of the country, especially those of the district hospitals of the country, where these devices are outdated,” specified Tihon Moraru.

The Moldovan authorities announced that 200 thousand protective screens and 500 filter masks were purchased in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the purchased protective screens represent only 10% of the announced necessary quantity, while the acquired amount of filter masks cover 25% of the health system current needs, reported ZdG.

Being contacted by ZdG, the manager of the company responsible for acquiring the protective goods said that, at the moment, the company does not have the products in stock, while importing them from China is a complicated procedure that will surely result in delivery delays, given the pandemic conditions.

Not enough tested persons

Another 32 people were lastly confirmed as being infected with the new type of coronavirus, after 246 samples were processed in the laboratory of the National Agency for Public Health, announced the sanatateinfo.md portal. That amounts a total of 5 324 persons who were tested, including family doctors and mayors. Given the exponential growth rate of the contagion demonstrated in other countries, the number of tested persons in the Republic of Moldova can be concluded as being way too low.

Enough Government assurances that “all is kept under control”

For purchasing 200 000 protective screens and 500 000 filter masks, the Government of the Republic of Moldova approved the allocation of 36 million lei from the reserve fund. “It is a measure to ensure protective equipment for the next period. We have enough equipment, but we are preparing for the second half of April and May,” said Prime Minister Ion Chicu.

At the same time, some district hospitals already have taken decisions of replacing at least a part of their old equipment using their institution budget or by applying to international funds and calling for foreign governments’ donations of protective goods, disinfectants, tests, etc.

Photo: Facebook| Ala Nemerenco

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