Alegerile parlamentare din 2021 în Republica Moldova -

Three years of Tarlev Government

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April 20, 2004
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On April 19 three years passed since Tarlev’s Government was sworn in. His ruling program “Economy’s revival — country’s revival” was aimed at solving three major issues outlined by President Voronin himself: Transdnistrian conflict, poverty reduction, and fighting corruption. Upon inauguration in office, Tarlev mentioned that a major condition towards enforcing the program was “efficient co-operation with all political forces and people of good faith”. In fact, after three years in power the ruling party has found itself on bad terms with all the parties having more or less considerable political weight. In the eyes of Communists, the only “friendly party” is the Democratic Agrarian Party, which in the past parliamentary elections gathered around 1% of the total votes cast. Accordingly, the failure of “efficient co-operation between political forces” has revealed Moldovan authorities’ inability to keep good ties with potential partners and opponents alike, both at home and abroad.

For this particular reason, after three years in power the problems outlined by the President are far from being settled. As if to underline this point, at the closing session of the Parliament winter series President said “now, Transdnistrian conflict settlement mood remains ornery”. Unfortunately, one may say so are the relationships with Moldova’s major partners — Romania and Russia.

Settling yet another strategic goal — poverty reduction — has been undermined by the Government’s failure to get on better terms with international financial institutions. This has also thwarted foreign debt servicing. As a result, last year alone Moldova had to spend 1/3 of its budget revenues on paying back foreign debt. Government has also reached a deadlock in developing the Poverty Reduction and Economic Growth Strategy, in work for three years now, as the approval of its final version is being constantly adjourned.

Noteworthy, previous Government headed by Dumitru Braghis adopted the National Program on Poverty Reduction back in June 2000. Backed by a raft of other measures that program has boosted a 1% economic growth. On top of that, the move alone has propelled Moldova’s human development index further upwards from the 104 to the 85th position among the 175 countries. And this amidst times when Moldova was struggling to get to grips with the 1998 Russian financial crisis.

Strangely enough, the efforts of the incumbent Government that reports a 7% economic growth for three years in a row now have had an opposite effect. They pushed the very same index (calculated by UN based on life expectancy, level of education and living standards) down by 23 points to the 108 position. Indeed there must be a reasonable explanation to this: either there is something wrong with Moldovan economic statistics data, or if there is indeed an economic growth then it rests on factors other than those improving living standards of ordinary people. If so, than what’s the use of economic growth, if it pushes human development index further downwards?

As for the third strategic issue, i.e. fighting corruption, last week Supreme Security Council endorsed the draft National Strategy on fighting corruption and National Action Plan to enforce the Strategy. Interestingly enough a similar program was approved by the Ion Sturza Government back in November 1999. Moreover, since independence more that 30 normative acts setting to “fight corruption” right from their title have been adopted, not to speak of another 300 acts where fighting corruption is mentioned one way or another. Nevertheless, during the last Supreme Security Council session (April 15, 2004) President said “Corruption hampers social-economic development of our country, it undermines any reform and has become a real issue for the state security”.

The President couldn’t have painted a bleaker picture than that, especially since he claimed corruption threatened state security. Oddly enough fighting corruption resumes to periodically, let’s say once in a week, reporting on the state TV about some unfortunate officers caught on taking meagre bribes of several dozens or hundreds Lei (12 Lei ~ 1 $), or some small retailers smuggling goods not exceeding several thousand dollars. There is no doubt that this kind of corruption is the most widespread and that it is worth fighting it out. However, what is striking is that for three years now, authorities talk fighting fuel smuggling that has reached enormous proportions lately, amounting hundred millions of dollars. Though, it wouldn’t have reached such a scale if it weren’t for a silent approval of high-rank officials. Sugar smuggling has taken centre stage recently. It too has reached such a scale that it threatens to ruin the whole industry. And yet at this scale, efforts to fight corruption are not visible at all, amidst growing claims that there are several well-organised Mafias operating in the field. Recently people learned about the Mafia operating in the law enforcement forces and grain Mafia, on top of that last week President uncovered yet another Mafia, i.e. foresters’ Mafia.

The curious thing is that Chief Forester Anatol Popusoi, Director General of the “Moldsilva” State Sylvan Agency, also heads the Democratic Agrarian Party. The very same party President Voronin considered to be the only “friendly party”. One may not question President’s statement, especially since Agrarian Party was founded by former rural nomenclature and it, in fact, substituted the Communist Party while it was banned. Once Communist Party regained its rights, the two parties formed an electoral bloc and jointly ran in the 1999 local elections.

This explains a lot, for a start the close ties between Communist Party and Democratic Agrarian Party and, conversely, the former’s inability to keep similar ties with other parties. Having this close relationship in mind, one may found that while Communists have been for three years in power and the friendly Democratic Agrarian Party another six years (1992–1998), all in all the two have stayed in power for more then 2/3 of Moldova’s independence. It was during that time that privatisation legislation was passed and later on enforced. It was during that time that Moldova received the greatest bulk of foreign credits, which incumbent ruling party claimed to be stolen or frittered away.

Therefore, citizens’ misfortune and the misfortune of the ruling party in achieving its strategic goals are deeply rooted in the personnel policy underpinned by the “power vertical” promoted by the ruling party, as well as in the friendships it had or it still holds to. However, in this particular case the famous saying “tell me who’s your friend and I’ll tell who you are” does not fully apply.

Competition of ideas for the public good NATO is expanding, whereas Moldova… shrinking?