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Economy

The Chicu government was criticised for its intention to introduce taxes on digital giants. Expert’s opinion

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The Government of Moldova led by Ion Chicu was criticised for the proposal of Ministry of Finance, made after the draft state budget for 2020 was made public, to oblige multinational digital companies such as Facebook, Google, Apple, Amazon, Netflix or Airbnb to register legal entities in Moldova and pay VAT on the revenues they earn from Moldovan users.

However, “going alone against the companies that rake in colossal revenues by any standards can undermine the efficiency of the whole enterprise and even affect our relationship with the United States,” it is opinated in a study, which has Vladislav Kaim, the member of the UNCTAD Youth Network and a master student in Economics at Lund University, as the author.

According to the Ministry of Finance estimations, such measures of taxation would bring additional 100 million lei in the state budget. Still, the experts community, political opposition and public reacted rather sceptically and, as a result, the Government had to postpone the entering of the decision in force from 1 January to 1 April, as it is mentioned in the study.

In the context of a union-wide digital services tax, which is aimed to be implemented by the EU in 2020, but also the disagreements between countries with different interests, “Moldova as a small market with no current stake in the future of digital economy even more so cannot afford to act unilaterally,” claimed Kaim.

“The presence of Google, Facebook and other digital giants in the life of Moldovans is ubiquitous. Thus, it is the duty of the government to make sure that our citizens get a fair deal from it, but unilateral measures imposed by a small and one of the poorest countries in Europe against the behemoths who thrive on effects of scale an global reach have a very limited potential of achieving that. Their potential impact on our relationship with the US should also be considered.”

The expert suggested two more strategies for the Moldovan government to choose from, instead of going alone against digital giants without leverage. First, to delay the adoption of the new tax until January 1, 2021, until the EU would establish a permanent solution. “Thus, the Moldovan digital taxation regime will match the one of the biggest single market in the world, which can generate beneficial spillover effects in other spheres – for example, a faster obtaining of the GDPR adequacy decision,” Vladislav Kaim claimed.

In case the executive wants to adopt a more proactive and regional strategy, it could come up with an initiative of a joint Eastern Partnership task force on digital taxation, comprised of representatives of the ministries of economy, fiscal bodies and antitrust regulators. “Aiming for an EaP wide digital service tax in coordination with the processes in the EU will likely be supported by the office of Margrethe Vestager, the vice-president of the European Commission whose mandate lies in this sphere,” specified the author of the study.

The study was produced within the project “Fostering the Adoption and Implementation of Key Reforms”, implemented with the support of National Endowment for Democracy and Watch Dog Moldova.

Photo: DAMIEN MEYER/AFP/Getty Images

Important

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

Coronavirus: Charter flights are organised to pick up Moldovans from abroad

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An official notification of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration (MFAEI) informed yesterday that exceptional charter flights for repatriating Moldovan citizens who are in a difficult situation while staying abroad will be organised.

“According to the Provision no. 6 of the Commission for Exceptional Situations, the MFAEI will coordinate the process of repatriation of the citizens of the Republic of Moldova with the charter flights. The diplomatic and consular missions will update the information about people being in a difficult situation abroad, giving priority to children, students, persons undergoing medical treatment, and other categories of disadvantaged citizens,” is stated in the notification.

Citizens of Moldova who are interested in returning home are able to register online on the web and Facebook pages of Moldova’s embassies and consulates from their host country. The list of missions can be found here.

Also, the Ministry informed that the priority destinations for charter flights will be proposed for approval to the Commission for Exceptional Situations that authorises the flights.

Exceptional charter travel tickets can be purchased directly from the flight operators. Updated information on the authorised charter flights can be found on the official page of the Civil Aeronautical Authority of the Republic of Moldova here. Today, for example the following flights were operated:

  • Chisinau-Moscow (Domodedovo)-Chisinau;
  • Chisinau- London- Chisinau.

Upon arrival in the capital city, passengers must undergo the medical evaluation procedure and will be placed in self-isolation for 14 days.

Photo: Suhyeon Choi |Unsplash

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Society

How does coronavirus spread? Churches can easily become a contagion epicentre

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While WHO highly recommends to avoid crowded places as much as possible during this period, and while several countries have reported churches as the focal point of their major coronavirus outbreaks, Moldovan churches still oppose the Governments quarantine measures and continue to encourage people to attend their religious ceremonies.

Today, another 22 new cases of COVID-19 were recorded in Moldova. That means a total of 199 cases. Prime minister Ion Chicu announced in a press conference, after the meeting of the Single Command Center for Crisis Management Caused by COVID-19 Virus, that 20 people were confirmed as being infected after returning from a trip to Poceaev Lavra –  a monastery from Ukraine. Among them are two priests who tested positive.

“The Ministry of Internal Affairs gave clear instructions not to allow religious services to be conducted with the parishioners participation. If these ceremonies take place, sanctions provided by the law will be applied,” declared the head of the Executive.

Last weekend, churches were still allowed to conduct open space ceremonies in compliance with all precaution rules. The process of religious services was supervised by the police. Policemen reported, over the weekend, that out of 1062 churches registered in Moldova, 382 churches respected the rules and conducted the services outside and 305 religious institutions either stopped the activity or the ceremonies took place without parishioners. The rest of them simply ignored all precautionary measures and continued to pretend that there is no pandemic situation in the country.

The Facebook page of a religious institution from Chisinau posted several images from the Holy Liturgy, where both people and priests wore protective masks. The service took place outside and those present were staying at a distance from each other. Still, how efficient are these measures if the Eucharist provides using the same spoon by all present people, as per Eastern Orthodox Church traditions?

Source: Facebook| St. Dumitru Church in Chisinau

“I noticed that, unfortunately, the church servants do not show respect first of all to the doctors who repair the errors of the whole society. I very much hope that none of those priests will become infected and reach the medical institutions, because our doctors will help them, but not using the same ‘spoon’ for all,” declared Ion Chicu.

Source: Facebook| St. Dumitru Church in Chisinau

Earlier, on March 13, the Moldovan authorities announced that all religious ceremonies have to be ceased for a period of 14 days. However, the Moldovan Orthodox Church representatives encouraged the religious institutions from all over the country to continue their activity, defying any rules imposed. No enforcing measures were taken by authorities, but only mentioning about the sanctions application.

Thus, there is one more important matter to be questioned: how many epicentres of coronavirus outbreaks have already been created by the Moldovan churches and how many will they still create until understanding that the situation is more than critical?

Photo: Facebook| St. Dumitru Church in Chisinau

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