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Financial support provided by USAID will be increased by $29 Million

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Yesterday, Prime Minister of the Republic of Moldova, Maia Sandu, and the Deputy of the USAID for Europe and Eurasia Bureau, Brock Bierman, signed two letters confirming the intention to increase the contribution to the development assistance agreement with the value of 29 million US dollars.

According to Maia Sandu, the money offered by the American people will be used for good governance, tourism, information technology, and media projects.

“Support from the US over the years has been important for strengthening democratic institutions and processes in Moldova. US support has been and is important for building the rule of law for reforming justice, building a state to represent and defend Moldovan citizens. This financial support will be used as efficiently, transparently and correctly as possible, especially in the interests of all citizens,” said Maia Sandu.

The expected funding for democratic governance will facilitate the creation of functional institutions and involve citizens in decision-making, promote the efficiency and transparency of local governments, improve access to municipal services, and promote decentralization and judicial reforms. Other key areas are creating favorable conditions for civil society organizations and the media.

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A warrant of preventive arrest was issued for Vladimir Plahotniuc

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The magistrates of the Chișinău Court issued a 30-day preventive arrest warrant for the former leader of the Democratic Party of Moldova (DPM) – Vladimir Plahotniuc. According to the court decision, the term of 30 days of preventive arrest will be calculated from the moment of his arrest.

Vladimir Plahotniuc is investigated in two criminal cases for money laundering in very large amounts. He was invited to hearings at the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office earlier this week but did not attend them. The lawyers of the former president of the DPM asked for postponing the hearings for about three weeks.

The head of the Anticorruption Prosecutor’s Office, Viorel Morari, explained in a press conference that the prosecutors had to take this measure as Plahotniuc did not respond to the summons to appear at the criminal prosecution body.

According to Viorel Morari, two criminal cases were initiated. In the first case, Plahotniuc is accused that, in the period of 2013-2015, he organised a money laundering scheme through companies he controlled. “Money from three devalued banks – Banca Sociala, Banca de Economii and Unibank were transferred to offshore companies. A total of 18 million dollars and 3.5 million euros were withdrawn this way,” declared Morari.

The second criminal case refers to the payments made to the Plahotniuc’s companies, declared as loans, in a total value of 7.5 million dollars and the transfers made to the account of Plahotniuc’s wife of 1.5 million euro and 1.1 million dollars between 2013 and 2014.

The head of the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office added that the information received from the Swiss authorities also served as the basis for starting the criminal prosecution.

At the same time, Viorel Morari gave assurances that no political or social intervention in the investigation will be admitted.

The former DPM leader fled the country in June 2019, shortly after the regime changed in Chișinău. At the moment, there is no exact information regarding his location.

Photo: Facebook/Vlad Plahotniuc

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Economy

Unaffordable prices for low quality transportation services in Moldova or the apple of discord among carriers and the Government

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The Employers Association of Car Transport Operators from Moldova organised a protest yesterday and today. More than 250 transport units have been brought to the city centre of Chișinău, and about 250 other units are stationed in villages and district centres. That means 586 trips of 124 regular routes were suspended.

The carriers require the adjustment of the tariffs for transportation by doubling them (from 0.48 lei/km to 0.92 lei/km). On the other hand, the Government officials consider that only after providing decent transport conditions for passengers, the request of tariff adjustment can be discussed. In the meantime, people have to wait for hours for public transportation all over the country.

The <<Marshrutka>> phenomenon

The public transportation in Moldova is not expensive at all from an outside perspective. There are few countries on the European continent where one can travel from the airport to the city centre of a city for 0.10 euro. The prices for longer distance travel using mainly the so-called marshrutkas (fixed-route minivans) and sometimes buses may also look more than affordable. Nonetheless, due to low income, these prices seem high for the main client segment – the local population.

Moreover, passengers in Moldova accept and tolerate to travel standing and ‘packed like sardines’ (as local people like to say) sometimes their whole route. Some people still approach the driver to pay, that meaning their ticket money are not officially recorded and paid. The schedule of busses and minivans is sometimes confusing and not accurate, the transport services being provided on old and insecure vehicles.

The protest of transportation companies

According to protesters, the last change of tariffs took place six years ago and they incur losses because of this. Oleg Alexa, the president of the Employers’ Association of Car Transport Operators, explained for Moldova.org that there is a Government decision, approved ten years ago, which provides for the adjustment of tariffs in the transportation area once a year. However, the decision was not respected. The last adjustment of the tariffs was made six years ago, in November 2013, and was obtained by addressing the matter to the court. That time, the tariffs were increased from 0.38 to 0.48 lei/km.

“We are basically all bankrupt and we have a staff shortage of 3,000 employees.”

At the same time, during the negotiations with the representatives of the Ministry of Economy, the carriers have presented a list of proposals that could cause the tariff not to increase so much. That means carriers require partially maintaining the current conditions of passengers’ transportation, namely reusing transport units, transporting passengers standing up to 50 km, combating illicit passenger transport, importing transport units up to a certain age, eliminating abusive tax controls, etc. If the authorities will consider the carriers’ proposals, they would be willing to accept a lower tariff than the one requested during the protest, as Oleg Alexa stated.

At the same time, the Ministry of Economy and Infrastructure declared that the Government is against increasing the tariffs on transport, specifying that the adjustment of the tariffs can only be discussed after the passengers will be provided with civilised travel conditions.

In a press release, the Government disapproved the decision of the carriers to suspend 600 trips, thus blocking the movement of citizens, motivating the strike by the refusal of the Ministry of Economy and Infrastructure to increase the tariffs on national road services.

The experts’ opinion

Economic experts say that the request of the carriers is justified, but the tariffs should be increased gradually, in order to not affect the citizens.

The economic expert Veaceslav Ioniță declared that the carriers have at least 50% higher costs as compared to six years ago. This is mainly due to the basic components of tariffs – employees’ salaries, the cost of spare parts and fuel price, which have all increased.

According to him, the authorities impose more and more stringent requirements on the carriers, which means that the carriers can no longer use old cars, but have to buy well-maintained cars, that implying additional costs.

As for the requested increase of tariffs, the expert claims that it is obvious that the carriers “requested an exaggerated tariff, hoping that they will reach a middle ground at the negotiations.” In the same context, he noted, however, that the current government has a reason to be upset about the carriers. This is because they have not taken such actions in the past, during the six years since the tariffs were maintained.

At the same time, Ioniță warned that tariffs are politicised in Moldova. “They are approved by the authorities. It is not an independent regulation. Because of this, carriers are also vulnerable,” claimed Ioniță.

As it seems, the protests of the carriers will continue and the public transportation problem in the Republic of Moldova will not be so easy to be solved, as several contradicting interests exist. One thing is clear: Moldovan passengers of national and international routes have to suffer in this situation.

Photo: ipn.md

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Politics

After one year and four months, the mayor mandate of Andrei Năstase was validated by the Court of Appeal Chișinău

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In June 2018, Andrei Năstase, one of the candidates who was running for mayor of Chișinău, won the local elections. However, his mandate was invalidated. The stated reason was the electoral agitation he made on the day of pre-election silence through a video posted on social media.

After one year and four months, the Court of Appeal (CA) Chișinău completely overturned the decision of the Chișinău Court, which annulled the mandate of Andrei Năstase after the local elections of 2018.

The appeal against the decision previously taken by the judge Rodica Berdilo at the Chișinău Court was submitted last year, the affected parties requesting the confirmation of the legality of the local elections of the mayor of Chișinău and validation of Năstase’s mandate.

Thus, the CA Chișinău issued a new decision confirming the results of the local elections of 2018 and validating the mayor mandate of Andrei Năstase.

Asked by Ziarul de Gardă, the member of Central Election Commission (CEC) Maxim Lebedinschi declared that, by the decision taken today by magistrates, Andrei Năstase can exercise the position of mayor of Chișinău until the validation of the new mayor mandate, who will be elected on October 20th, 2019.

Even though it might sound like a joke, this is actually happening – Andrei Năstase, the mayor of Chișinău elected in June 2018, has officially just 12 days in the office before his mandate comes to an end.

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