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Politics

New day… new start! What are the remaining options of forming a government in the Republic of Moldova?

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The position of the political parties that entered the Parliament of the Republic of Moldova is adjusted from one day to the next. It seems that no political expert, analyst, politician or common citizen is sure anymore of what is going to happen. What can be affirmed though, is that there is already a very low probability of a parliamentary majority formed of the political bloc ACUM and the Party of Socialists of the Republic of Moldova (PSRM). First, the PSRM invited ACUM to discussions and the latter refused due to the way the invitation was made, then the reverse situation happened, the PSRM explaining that no official invitation was made.

The political bloc ACUM has called for an urgent resumption of Parliament’s sitting and for an open and transparent presentation of every parliamentary faction’s position, in order to see whether they can form a majority or not. “It is very clear from the statements made by the PSRM representatives that they deliberately avoid recognizing the status of captured state Moldova has. They are not honest with their own voters when they promise the improvement of social policies, knowing very well that, in the condition of a controlled state, citizens can not live well and these promises can not be fulfilled. I also heard that the PSRM is ready to go ahead with snap elections without changing the electoral system, which is a further evidence of complicity to the current regime,”said one of the leaders of ACUM bloc, Maia Sandu, during a press conference organised after the PSRM rejected the bloc’s invitation to come to public discussions and submitted a number of own conditions for the initiation of negotiations.

Among the conditions on the creation of a ruling coalition presented by the PSRM were the creation of a fully functional parliamentary majority, a government and a program supported by this majority. The PSRM opposed to ruling through a minority government, as it was  proposed by ACUM. Moreover, the PSRM proposed the candidacy of the leader of the PSRM, Zinaida Greacenîi, to the presidency of Parliament, and insisted on exercising its influence on the areas of foreign and defense policy in the future government. Previously, ACUM proposed the leader of the Dignity and Truth Platform Party (DTPP), Andrei Năstase to the same position. That is a clear sign of discrepancies between these two parties and lack of intention to negotiate under the existing conditions, as none of the parts is willing to make compromises.

On the other hand, the Democratic Party of Moldova (DPM) announced today that it has prepared several social initiatives, which will represent the basis for negotiations on the future coalition government. The proposed law initiatives concern the increase of allowances for children and retirees and implementation of special conditions for ‘first house’ mortgages. The DPM and the PSRM already declared previously that ‘common points’ regarding the social initiatives were found. Shall the DPM declarations be interpreted as a call for negotiations with the PSRM, as no political conditions of DPM were presented?

More about the previous events concerning the government formation here.

The economist and former Prime Minister of the Republic of Moldova, Valeriu Muravschi, is one of the experts that considers an alliance formation between the PSRM and the DPM the most probable.“Their politics are pretty close. During the last three years, the DPM and the socialists voted together for so many initiatives. They have found a common, tacit language, so …”declared Muravschi in an interview for RFE/RL. He sees almost no possibility of coalition between the PSRM and the political bloc ACUM. “A coalition between the socialists and ACUM is possible only if the socialists would accept, in writing form, all conditions of ACUM,”added Muravschi. Everybody already knows – that is not going to happen.

According to Alexandru Solcan, the dean of the Faculty of International Relations and Political Sciences of the Moldova’s State University, an eventual PSRM-DPM coalition at the ideological level is possible. It would happen naturally from the political and social perspective, but the geopolitical factor could represent a problem. “In such a coalition, the DPM would probably dominate,”noted Solcan, cited by IPN.

While the parliamentary factions can’t find a consensus, at least officially, the possibility of dissolving the current Parliament and organizing snap elections is approaching. The PSRM already declared that such an option is considered by them as plausible and President Igor Dodon expressed his readiness to dissolve the current Parliament. But is it a convenient option for any of political parties, as nobody can know what would be the snap elections’ results?

A survey conducted by IMAS, cited by the State News Agency, showed that 31% of Moldovan people believe that a coalition of PSRM and DPM would be the most effective option, 24% of respondents would opt for snap elections, and 20% think that Socialists should ally with the ACUM bloc. Still, for the moment, politicians, not common people, decide what will be the future ruling government of the Republic of Moldova.

Photo: moldpres.md

Reintegration

Coronavirus in Transnistria: blocked roads, self-isolation, restricted access to banking services and medicines is still on

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The state of emergency in Transnistria was declared on March 17, being extended twice. The last decision said it would last until June 15INFOTAG News Agency informed.

About 2 weeks ago, some restrictions began to be lifted in the region – shopping malls, construction markets and grocery stores were reopened. Thus, a record number of COVID-19 reported cases followed, the total number of confirmed cases reaching 1003, according to the data provided by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Social Protection of Moldova (MHLSP).

One of the biggest contagion epicentres is located at the psycho-neurological boarding school from Bender – more than 160 people were infected there.

No transport available

In the context of the pandemic crisis, an imperative transportation problem was discussed by the Moldovan and Transnistrian officials: the residents of 4 villages from the left bank of the Dniester have to use a ferry in order to reach the other side. That is because the road, connecting the rural areas with the mainland Moldova, runs through a Transnistrian territory that has been blocked by illegal border checkpoints and barriers installed by separatists.

See also: A not working peacekeeping mechanism? When the Moldovan side requests, the Transnistrian one refuses

“A separate topic of discussion was the situation of the Moldovan villages of Molovata Noua, Vasilievca, Cocieri and Roghi on the left (eastern) bank of the Dniester River. They have found themselves isolated from the Republic of Moldova after the Transnistrian authorities introduced a state of emergency in the region,” announced President Igor Dodon after he lately met with the head of Dubasari district, Grigore Filipov.

It was decided that the ferry will make additional daily trips to meet the needs of the population and economic agents from the region, as a temporary solution.

Moldova’s Special Representative for Transnistria negotiations, Deputy Prime Minister for Reintegration, Cristina Lesnic, believes that the nature of the dialog between Chisinau and Tiraspol has changed during the pandemic period.

“After the beginning of the pandemic crisis and the state of emergency declaration in Moldova, the region was isolated. The Moldovan authorities’ decisions should apply to the entire territory, but Transnistria has adopted its own measures. […] The self-isolation of the Transnistrian region on the pretext of the pandemic began in mid-April, and now it is extended till June 15. The situation is connected to a restricted access both for the economic agents and officials from Moldova. Let me remind you that there are 320 thousand Moldovans living in the region, who are deprived of access to services on the right bank of the Dniester.”

In a meeting with foreign diplomats and international organisation representatives accredited in Moldova, Cristina Lesnic talked about the  anti-crisis management possibilities created for businesses and the population of Transnistria since the beginning of the state of emergency, including facilitating the import of medicines and foodstuffs into the Transnistrian region, as well as returning home of Transnistrian residents from foreign countries.

Source: gov.md

On the other hand, more accusations against Moldovan authorities arrived, referring to the fact that the Deputy Prime Minister for Reintegration would not be willing to help to repatriate the inhabitants of the separatist region. That is while the legal public authorities of Moldova are the only ones entitled to negotiate the organisation of international passenger transport with the authorities of foreign states, according to the Bureau for Reintegration Policies from Moldova.

No banking services

Another issue discussed during the common meetings is the access of the population of Transnistria to banking services: in case people from the region are clients of a Moldovan or international bank, they can’t withdraw money from the ATMs located on the Transnistrian territory, as well as they can’t use their credit cards to pay products and services in Transnistrian rubles.

While Transnistrian news portals blamed the Moldovan authorities of blocking the possibility to pay using international card on the Transnistrian territory, officials from Chisinau gave assurances that no discriminatory or exaggerated approaches are applied to the bank customers from the Transnistrian region. The National Bank of Moldova specified that payments using MasterCard and Visa cards in Transnistria are possible, but only if payments are made through the POS terminals of banks licensed in Moldova. As the local currency (Transnistrian rubles) is not internationally recognised, it was proposed to use the Moldovan leu as a mean of cash payment.

(Almost) no financial support

About 450 individual entrepreneurs from Dubasari district will receive financial compensation from the Transnistrian authorities, in order to overcome the negative consequences of the pandemic crisis. The total budget for compensation amounts 182 500 Transnistrian rubles (about 10 140 euros). When divided to 450 companies that should receive financial support, it turns out that each company will receive about 23 euros for two months in which they stopped their activity.

Photo: BIRN

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Society

Lifting coronavirus restrictions in Moldova – risks and future costs

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Another 153 new cases of infection with the novel coronavirus were confirmed today in the Republic of Moldova, informed the Minister of Health, Labour and Social Protection (MHLSP). Altogether, the number of infected persons reached 8 251 cases since the beginning of the pandemic.

In the last week, there was a decrease in the number of confirmed cases by 11%, according to the specialists from the National Public Health Agency (NPHA). At the same time, the number of recovered cases increased by 5% as compared to the week before. Still, the cumulative incidence of cases reported in Moldova, when compared to other states, increased to 2 224 cases per one million population (21 out of 46 countries, according to statista.com), while the death rate increased from 67 deaths per one million population to 80 deaths per one million population.

While most of these numbers are interpreted positively by the Moldovan authorities, there are still restrictions on which the pandemic evolution depends. In case they are lifted to soon, the next wave of infection cases could begin. If they are kept for too long, a lot of businesses and family budgets would suffer. Therefore, a lot of future risks and costs depend on the next steps taken by officials.

Unbalanced restrictions’ lifting

The last decision of the National Extraordinary Public Health Commission lifted certain restrictions imposed during the state of emergency in the country. For example, it was decided to open all open-air markets in the country, including the ones from big cities (Chisinau and Balti) starting June 1, relaunch the activity of the shopping centres, except for restaurants and entertainment units located inside – June 8, allow religious ceremonies, including meetings in public places for celebrating important religious holidays – June 5. Starting June 15, gyms and restaurant units will be reopened as well.

On the other hand, the Government of the Republic of Moldova decided to cancel this year high school graduation exams. “Given the exceptional circumstances, it was necessary to adopt some measures aimed at reducing the risk of contagion of middle school and high school graduates and teachers. The organisation of graduation exams involves a series of indoor activities and a large number of persons (high school graduation exams – about 40 000 people, the Baccalaureate exams about 20 000 people), which increases the risk of infection, even though the necessary protection measures would be followed,” said the Ministry of Education, Culture and Research (MECR).

The Parliament approved, on 21 May, a draft law on the cancellation of national graduation exams of the 2020 examination session.

Not everyone agreed with the taken decisions though. “As the markets open, where the congestion is very high, as the supermarkets worked during severe quarantine, in the same way, examinations could have been carried out with all the restrictions imposed to avoid the spread of the new type of coronavirus,” declared former Minister of Education, Corina Fusu, for ZdG.

“Many decisions on restrictions’ lifting have no logic. One of them would be the reopening of gyms with no access to the bathrooms or locker rooms. […] Strategies were lacking in Moldova. Instead, we enjoyed daily statistics, not well-determined actions. We have paid for it, both with the health and lives of people, as well as with a downgraded economy, “ said the WHO expert and former Minister of Health, Ala Nemerenco. The former dignitary argued that Moldova is way behind other European countries when it comes to the pandemic evolution, however the restrictions are lifted at the same time.

“The number of new cases, the serious or critical cases is still very high. At the same time, the number of deaths is high. In other European countries people are more educated in this regard. They know what shift work means and what sanitary hygiene means. Our people still don’t know anything about this. I still argue that the Rahmanish Easter (religious holiday postponed for the beginning of June in Moldova) should be cancelled. I am also against the markets’ reopening,” head of the NPHA, Nicolae Furtuna, claimed for ZdG.

Restrictions are not for everyone

The opposition MP, Sergiu Litvinenco, filed a complaint with the Ministry of Internal Affairs, to fine President Igor Dodon because he didn’t comply with the rules imposed during the pandemic period. First, the president expressed a superficial and uninformed opinion regarding the novel coronavirus, saying it is not more than a flu that affects merely older people.

Moreover, Dodon recently posted several photos and videos on social media where it can be observed that meetings with local public authorities, economic agents, citizens, including older people and children, were conducted without wearing a protective mask and  keeping social distance, especially indoors.

“The law is the same for everyone and must be equally applied. Igor Dodon must be punished for the obvious violation of the mandatory rules on prevention and control measures of epidemic diseases!”

Nevertheless, Minister of Internal Affairs, Pavel Voicu, declared that no deviation from rules were found. “We did not fine him because he has immunity. We have not seen any deviations from the Commission’s provisions so far,” he said.

COVID-19 is still here

Speaker of the Parliament, Zinaida Greceanii, signed a provision regarding self-isolation regime establishment for all members of the Parliament from May 22, as several persons in the legislature, including a MP, were tested positive for coronavirus previously.  All members and staff of the Parliament were tested and were asked to stay at home until the confirmation of negative results for COVID -19, as it was announced in a press release of the Moldovan Parliament.

Meanwhile, 1602 cases of infection (19,41% of total cases) have been confirmed among healthcare system employees, including 380 doctors, 20 pharmacists, 630 nurses, 84 janitors and 488 support staff.

The authorities desire to relaunch the economy of the country is understandable, as well as the opposition and experts’ reluctance regarding the speed and relevancy of restrictions’ lifting. However, taking into consideration the relatively low level of informing the population on how to correctly exit the restrictions’ period and the lack of a consistent strategy of authorities on how and when to reopen various activities, the future costs of the already taken decisions could be really painful.

Photo: Dreamstime.com

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Politics

Promo-LEX estimates: 19,02 million lei as failed expenses to be reported to the Central Electoral Commission by the political parties in 2019

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A report on political party financing in 2019, carried out by the Promo-LEX Association and published lately, revealed undeclared expenses amounting to about 19,02 million lei. Also, it announced one of the lowest level of financial reporting to the Central Electoral Commission (CEC).

As of May 7, 2020, only 19 political parties (43%) managed to submit their financial statement to the CEC in time, one faction submitted it with a delay and 26 political parties failed to submit any declaration at all. Therefore, Promo-LEX found the lowest rate of political parties’ annual reporting regarding their financial situation since 2014, according to the association’s notice.

“The Promo-LEX Association took into account the specificity of the state of emergency instituted in the Republic of Moldova.” However, the CEC did not have a proactive and transparent attitude in settling the issue and it didn’t remind the political parties of their reporting obligation under the given exceptional circumstances.

On the one hand, Promo-LEX mentioned the lack of transparency due to the absence of obligation to publish information on political party donors, and the vulnerabilities caused by hiding these data. On the other hand, the association highlighted the insufficient control and supervision of political parties’ sources of financing that was exercised by the CEC.

That happened despite the improvements in the legal framework on party financing made last year, such as reduction of the minimum amount of authorised donations from natural and legal persons, allowing donations from  nationals residing abroad, etc. “Despite these substantial legislative improvements, there are unsettled legislative loopholes that arise our concern,” is mentioned in the report.

In 2019, 16 political parties from Moldova reported a total amount of 70 million lei as revenues and 94 million lei as expenses. Other 4 parties that submitted their financial statements did not indicate any revenues or expenses.

Moldovan political parties declared that the subsidies from the state budget represented the main source of their income in 2019 (39%), along with membership fees (32%), donations from individuals (18%), and donations from legal entities (11%).

It was also found that 17 political parties organised at least 2936 promotional activities and events in 2019, including activities organised by charitable foundations. Such foundations as “EDELWEISS”, associated with Vladimir Plahotniuc and the Democratic Party of Moldova, “Din Suflet” Charity Foundation, associated with the Party of Socialists and President Igor Dodon, and“For Orhei” Association, connected with the “Sor” Party, were reported as organising promotional activities. However, none of the political parties associated with the charitable entities mentioned above reported promotion expenses as being linked to charity activities.

In such a way, Promo-LEX estimated that 17 political parties failed to report a total amount of 19,02 million lei (20% more than actually reported), the most questionable category of expenses being that of public events, followed by the expenses for maintenance of headquarters and staff.

Source: Promo-LEX

The monitoring reports carried out by Promo-LEX between 2016 and 2019 showed large discrepancies between the financial statements reported to the CEC and the estimates of the association. The highest share of undeclared expenses was reached in 2017, when political parties from Moldova hid 42,75 million lei, that being 48% more that it was actually reported.

Photo: contaconect.ro

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