CHISINAU, April 11 (Reuters) - Moldova's parliament on
Tuesday gave its backing to the third and final reading of an austere budget for
this year, raising government hopes for renewed financing by international
"The adoption of the budget is a great victory for
everyone," Prime Minister Dumitru Braghis told deputies after the vote.
"It provides an opportunity to unfreeze relations with international
The budget, backed by 58 deputies of the 101-seat
legislature, was approved with a deficit of 380 million lei ($30 million), or
two percent of gross domestic product estimated at 15.9 billion lei.
Revenues are targeted at 3.795 billion lei and expenditure
at 4.175 billion. The government plans to cover the budget gap with revenues
from planned sell-offs in the energy sector and treasury bill issues set at 200
The timely adoption of a tight budget has been among major
conditions set by the International Monetary Fund to resume loans to Moldova,
suspended amid a government crisis last year.
The IMF, among major creditors of the tiny agricultural
nation of 4.3 million, also wants deputies to adopt laws on cash sell-offs in
the lucrative wine and tobacco industries to receive a $35 million tranche of an
Extended Fund Facility.
The IMF resident representative in Moldova could not be
immediately reached for comment on chances of new loans.
The resumption of the IMF programme might give a strong
signal to other creditors which may grant Moldova a total of around $100 million
by the end of this year.
Officials say that amid financial austerity GDP is expected
to grow by two percent this year after falling 4.4 percent in 1999. Inflation is
forecast to slow to 28 percent from last year's 43.7 percent.
But many deputies are less optimistic. "This is an
unrealistic and unbalanced budget," Alexei Tulbure, a member of the
opposition Democracy and Reform Alliance, told Reuters.
"It should not have been passed without adopting a
package of privatisation laws, laws on social insurance and without replacing
general privileges with targeted compensation."