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Economy

The IMF conclusions// will the last part of the program funds be disbursed to Moldova?

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An International Monetary Fund (IMF) team, led by Ruben Atoyan, the head of the IMF Mission, visited Moldova between January 22 to February 5 to conduct the 2020 Article IV consultation and the sixth and final review of Moldova’s economic program supported by the IMF’s Extended Credit Facility (ECF) and Extended Fund Facility (EFF) arrangements.

Ruben Atoyan appreciated the discussions with the Moldovan authorities as consistent and insistent and confirmed that the Government team has demonstrated openness and determination in implementing the necessary reforms. Most of the objectives of the Moldova – IMF program were achieved and the program was a successful one, as a statement of the Government of the Republic of Moldova communicated.

At the meeting of Prime Minister Ion Chicu with the IMF team staff, the objectives to be achieved in the next period were discussed, including the approval of the legislation regarding non-banking financial institutions for the sustainable and safe development of this sector.

The parties also exchanged views on the consolidation of the national banking system and the pension system, concluded the need to focus on the objective of ensuring a sustainable, balanced and more inclusive economic growth, as well as discussed the reforms in education, healthcare and social policies to increase the standard of living in the Republic of Moldova, to combat migration and to change demographic trends.

On February 5, the IMF Communication Department issued a concluding statement that describes the preliminary findings of IMF staff at the end of the official visit to Moldova.

The most important conclusions were:

  • The last review under the IMF program is scheduled for March 16, 2020. The completion of the review will make available another  SDR 14.4 million (about $20 million) for Moldova;
  • The program has been successful in achieving its objectives. Comprehensive reforms have rehabilitated the banking system and strengthened financial sector governance, entrenching macro-financial stability;
  • Despite successful economical stabilisation efforts, widespread and significant governance and institutional vulnerabilities are major impediments to boosting living standards of Moldovan people, especially high perception of corruption, weak rule of law and political instability present risks;
  • Prudent and well-coordinated policies are needed to safeguard the progress achieved. Decisive governance and institutional reforms are necessary for faster, sustainable, and inclusive growth.

“The program was success and achieved its goals. The comprehensive reforms have rehabilitated the banking system and strengthened the finance sector, this progress is commendable under the conditions of a volatile political situation,” said Ruben Atoyan, the head of the IMF Mission at a press conference.

source: gov.md

Next, Prime Minister of Moldova is going to send a letter to the IMF asking for another mission’s visit to Chisinau for conducting an evaluation and prepare a new international program.

“With the current program successfully completed, half the chances of having a new program are assured,” Ion Chicu claimed optimistically.

The prime minister said that the Government wants a new program with the IMF, not only for the international funds that can be granted, but also for the support and assistance that can be received in promoting reforms.

**

Moldova’s three-year IMF program was approved on November 7, 2016, being supported by a loan of 129.4 million special drawing rights (SDR), which is about $182 million, or 75% of the Republic of Moldova’s quota. 115 million SDR (about US$160 million) have been already disbursed. Two thirds of the loan are provided under the Extended Credit Facility, which carries a zero interest rate through 2018, a grace period of 5½ years, and a 10-year maturity. The rest of the loan is provided under the Extended Fund Facility, which carries an annual interest rate equal to the SDR basic rate of charge (currently 1.7 percent), and is repayable over 10 years with a 4½ -year grace period.

Photo: gov.md

Economy

The EU announced its support to overcome the pandemic crisis in Moldova

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The European Union (EU) will re-direct 87 million euros of funds available from other existing assistance programmes to overcome the consequences of the crisis provoked by COVID-19 in the Republic of Moldova, announced Moldova’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The assistance through the Moldova-EU bilateral programme will be provided in addition to a previously announced regional programme. The latter includes 140 million euros total funds that have been allocated by the EU to all the countries in the Eastern Partnership (EAP), out of which 30 million euros are designated to support the countries’ medical systems, about 11.3 million are allocated to support people from socially vulnerable categories and about 100 million aim to help economies recover, especially when it comes to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). “Today’s package responds both to the immediate needs of the health systems, as well as to longer term needs of the most vulnerable groups in society and small and medium-sized enterprises, which are the backbone of the economies in the six countries,”  said Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations Olivér Várhelyi.

“As part of its global response to the coronavirus outbreak, the European Commission stands by Eastern Partner countries and has re-allocated €140 million for the most immediate needs including the Republic of Moldova,” is stated in a press release of the Delegation of the European Union to the Republic of Moldova.

The European Commission is working with the World Health Organisation (WHO) to ensure the health systems with necessary supplies such as sets of gloves, masks and sterilisers. Also, the funds will support national health administrations to train medical and laboratory staff and carry out awareness raising measures to the wider population.

The EU has made available small grants to civil society organisations across the region. These funds aim supporting local schools with distance learning and target the most affected parts of the populations. “This is in addition to the already ongoing support through the EU Civil Society Facility for Moldova that is already providing €20 million free of charge to create social services for the most vulnerable members of the society in Moldova and supporting people with special needs to start their own business in Moldova,” is said in the same statement.

Also, the EU is working closely with International Financial Institutions (IFIs) and relevant financing institutions from EU Member States, providing a coordinated European response for the economies. Namely, the support includes launching programmes to facilitate, simplify and accelerate the access of SMEs to various credit funds, providing grants to innovative start-ups, mobilising de-risking instruments to facilitate the provision of liquidity, etc. More information can be found here.

“We greatly appreciate the assistance provided by the EU during this difficult time, which comes to support the country’s efforts to overcome the pandemic crisis and its consequences. In particular, we welcome the systemic and long-term approach, which includes both immediate measures for the health system and vulnerable persons with social needs, as well as a comprehensive programme for economy recovery,” Foreign Minister Oleg Țulea stated.

On April 8, the European Commission launched its “Team Europe” package to support partner countries in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic and its consequences. It aims to combine resources from the EU, its Member States, and financial institutions, in particular the European Investment Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. The overall support figure reaches more than 20 billion euros. According to the European Commission, the focus is on the people most at risk: children, women, the elderly, and disabled people, as well as migrants, refugees, internally displaced persons and their host communities.

Photo: eppgroup.eu

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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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