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Getting citizenship for investments: is it good or bad?

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Granting citizenship to the people having invested into the Moldovan economy is a form of passively capitalizing on Moldova’s status as an internationally recognized country. At the same time, luring investors through international forums and exhibitions, what does have a right to exist, has turned up being not so efficient and may not be viewed as an exclusive tool to interact with and attract foreign investments.

The Moldovan economy goes on feeding on remittances, as the exports – although up 38% (in January-February 2018) – are not capable though to unleash the overgrowth badly needed for the essential improvement of the living standard. Under these circumstances is or is not the program of granting citizenship for investments the panacea, the element able to miraculously boost the economic growth? Certainly, the answer is ‘no.’ The program can yield contingent effects, as raising the amount of direct foreign investment, as a substantial increase of the financial flows to Moldova and implicitly shaping the investment climate so much talked about for so long.

The Economy Ministry assesses an investment flow of about 1.3 bn euros, a difficult thing to assess as the program is launched for the first time and there is no any market response as to the Moldovan passport yet. Still there is a steady demand for such services on the international market: businesspeople having to migrate because of various reasons ask for a second citizenship. For example, according to a study carried out by CS Global Partners in the UK in 2017, about 89% of the British would like having a second citizenship, and about 34% made the effort to find out how such a one may be acquired.

Most countries do have programs of gaining investor visas or citizenship, what’s more these people are sought for in a tough luring competition. If suich countries as the USA, the UK or Switzerland but display the eligibility conditions, in Moldova’s case, this strategy won’t work because of competitive attractiveness of the Moldovan passport compared to the British or American ones, for instance. Hiring a company specialized in providing such services as Henley&Partners is highly increases the chances of attaining the program goals, given Henley&Partners’ experience in providing a wide range of services for potential applicants, but also its massive database of clients and potential applicants.

The risks implied and the critique targeting such programs of gaining citizenship through investments – hinting it’s an illegal scheme of money laundering – are detached from the real context such programs unfold in. First, these services are provided by companies often related to renowned consulting firms, which would incur reputational risks and would be liable to criminal investigation in many countries. Second, gaining one’s citizenship is a public act, your name becomes public what is not proper for “the strategies” used to launder money, which need interposed persons, shell companies and fake identities for short times. Third, as the campaign is going on at the national scale, were it a money laundering scheme, it would have immediately draw the attention of Moldova’s development partners: the USA, the EU, the IMF and other international financial entities.

And last but not least, all the applicants will be checked up by law-enforcing bodies and the Interpol, as the law provides for.

Roman Chircă, director of Market Economy Institute

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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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Economy

A $46.1 million instalment of the IMF financing programme has been disbursed to Moldova

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According to a notice made today by the Ministry of Finance of the Republic of Moldova, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has allocated and disbursed a new $ 46.1 million instalment to the Republic of Moldova, based on the assessment of the progress made in meeting the undertaken commitments.  About $ 27.5 million are designated to support the state budget.

According to the Ministry of Finance, the first disbursement of $30.7 million was made on September 24th, out of which $18.4 million (through the Extended Fund Facility (EFF) financing mechanism) were intended to support the state budget. The remaining $15.4 million were disbursed on September 30th. An amount of $9.1 million was meant to support the state budget through the Extended Credit Facility (ECF) financing mechanism.

The Ministry reiterated that on November 7th, 2016, the Board of Directors of the IMF approved a three-year Program with the Republic of Moldova. The financial support of approximately $178.7 million was supposed to be granted to Moldova in several instalments, aiming to support the reforms promoted by the Government. The amount of $91.4 million had already been disbursed under the existing financing program.

During October 2 – 8, 2019, a staff team of the International Monetary Fund led by Ruben Atoyan is on a working visit to Chișinău.

Photo: seenews.com

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Economy

IMF staff team is on a mission in Chişinău

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An International Monetary Fund (IMF) staff team led by Mr. Ruben Atoyan is currently on a visit to Chişinău during October 2 – 8, 2019.According to the press statement of the IMF Permanent Representative in the Republic of Moldova, this is a fact-finding mission to update on recent economic developments and discuss the authorities’ policies to maintain macroeconomic and fiscal stability, including in the context of the state budget for 2020.

The IMF experts, being on a mission in Moldova, had the longest discussion with the members of the Government they have ever attended, which is a “positive sign”, commented Maia Sandu in a press conference held after the meeting of the Government of the Republic of Moldova on October 2nd.

“The IMF experts appreciated our actions to correct the decisions of the previous Government and appreciated that we were able to move quickly and present the two assessments,” said Maia Sandu.

According to the prime minister’s declarations, this is only a documentation visit of the IMF representatives to Chişinău, no agreement being planned to be signed.

Ten days ago, the IMF Executive Board of Directors completed the fourth and fifth evaluation of the program supported by the Extended Credit Facility (ECF) and the Extended Financing Mechanism (EFM). At the same time, it was announced that the Republic of Moldova can access the total amount of about US $46.1 million from the financing approved by the IMF.

Photo: seenews.com

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