“Rethink Moldova” Plan WinsStrong International Support
While Moldova remains Europe’s poorest country, itsgovernment is determined to change that through itsambitious “Rethink Moldova” National Development Plan, which aims to ensure sustainable economic growth and better quality of life.
Iurie Leanca, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Integration, explains, “When the current government came to power, Moldova had an image of being Europe’s black sheep. Our goal is to change this image, to encourage the world to ‘rethink Moldova’, and we are on the right track. We are providing the right conditions for modernising the country, and we know exactly what we want: to become a normal, productive member of the EU community with the help of our EU partners.”
Moldova’s current government, which came to power less than a year ago, faced daunting challenges, including a financial crisis which the previous government had not acknowledged and a lack of a coherent strategic plan. Deputy Prime Minister Leanca says, “Despite the difficult agenda, we were able to set up a reform programme. Its most important objective is to put Moldova back on track for normal development.”
“Rethink Moldova” is a comprehensive effort to establish the right foundations for the Moldovan economy. Deputy Prime Minister Leanca explains, “The reform programme includes difficult spending cuts and increased tariffs (including on energy) but also significant increases in targeted social assistance to soften the effect on the poor, and efforts to improve the efficiency and quality of public spending. These fiscal measures have been flanked by an effort to deregulate and de-monopolise the economy and create new jobs. Key elements of the public system, including procurement and internal and external auditing, are being reformed in line with European standards.”
Donors give Moldova €1.9 billion in support of development plan
International funding organisations have demonstrated their support for the current government.Iurie Leanca, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and European IntegrationDeputy Prime Minister Leanca says, “In March 2010, Moldova received a total of €1.9 billion from the EU, the US, the IMF, the World Bank and other donors. We received this because of the government’s very strong track record in its first six months in office and also because our new ‘Rethink Moldova’ programme demonstrates vision, new perspectives and new strategies.”
The programme’s long term goal, according to its mission statement, is “to transform Moldova into a nation that is integrated with the EU and global economy, respects basic human rights and freedoms, has a competitive economy, is capable of delivering quality public services to all, regards the issue of poverty as a thing of the past, and has a dynamically improving international image.” The plan also calls for modernising and improving Moldova’s judicial system, combating corruption,ensuring stability, finding solutions for border issues, and settling the Transnistrian conflict.
To promote economic development, the plan emphasises improving Moldova’s business environment, supporting small and medium sized enterprises, enhancing the efficiency of Moldovan companies, encouraging research and innovation, and upgrading infrastructure. Concerning human resources, the plan calls for creating jobs and improving educational and healthcare services. The plan also calls for creating regional economic development centres to complement Moldova’s existing urban hubs (Chisinau and Balti), and for decentralising public administration. Finally, the plan aims to establish a green Moldova through promoting pollution controls,energy efficiency and renewable energy.
Moldova’s recent economic performance is impressive.Vladimir Filat, Moldova’s Prime Minister, announced in March this year, “Moldova’s GDP recorded a 6.9% increase in 2010, thus significantly exceeding the initial forecasts, and we have managed to keep inflation under control and substantially cut the budget deficit to 2.4% of GDP. These notable results were attained despite the challenges faced by our economy.”
Attracting international investors
Attracting international investment is crucial for Moldova in reaching the goals of its “Rethink Moldova” plan. Deputy Prime Minister Leanca cites agriculture, information technology and other high tech sectors, textiles and energy as high potential investment opportunities in Moldova. He says, “Moldova is not poor because of its people; it is poor because of bad leadership in the past. What we need to do now is to set up the basics for a healthy economy in which we can build on our advantages, including our young, highly skilled and very low cost labour.”
Organic food is one outstanding investment prospect. Deputy Prime Minister Leanca says, “Moldova is still anagricultural country and we have great opportunities for investment in this sector. My dream is that Moldova will be known for organic food. Moldova has excellent soil, so if we are able to bring investment and experience into the country, I am convinced that we will find a niche in the European market.”
Addressing potential investors, Deputy Prime MinisterLeanca concludes, “We will be able to face the challenges we have with the help of our partners in the EU,and Moldova will become a success story.”