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Article by Vlad BERCU, posted on "Moldova News" web site at

Will Moldova fall for Bulgarian variant?

Will Moldova fall for Bulgarian variant after communists have come to power? This is the question to which we can find out the answer only in a few months.

Moldova of today does not yet resemble Bulgaria of the time when Jean Videnov socialist government was at power, when the country went through acute economic crises. In only two years of governing, Mr. Videnov managed to bring the country to an unparalleled isolation and did not manage to convince international financial institutions to issue new loans. The country was shaking from the economic crisis.

Still, there are a lot of signs that remind the situation on the eve of the Bulgarian crisis. Governing uncertainty, controversial external message that led those who observed us from outside to go astray, were the things that have been noticed both by IMF mission which was not concluded, as it was expected, with the regular quarterly transh of the loan at the end of April, and also by high officials of some international and European organisations, with whom the Prime-Minister Vasile Tarlev had discussions during his visit to Brussels in mid May, where he participated at the third Meeting of the Council for Cooperation between Republic of Moldova and European Union.

Although International Monetary Fund did not openly declare that it had ceased its financing to Republic of Moldova, Director of IMF II European Department, Mr. Olding-Smee affirmed that in the situation while the discussions continue in the Government, the Fund would not adopt the decision regarding "recommencement of crediting". All of this happened in conditions when they heavily relied on external crediting in amount of 30 million US dollars that followed to supplement the state budget during the first trimester. Until 25 May the state budget accumulated 1,043.9 million Moldovan Lei, with only 1,8% less than during the same period last year.

And if the financial gap, that would be formed due to cessation of external crediting, could be covered, as well as it happened last year when Republic of Moldova had no external support for more than 11 months, financial crisis that could be triggered if certain external debt was not restructured, would be difficult to overcome. Repayment of Moldova's external debt in 2002 will touch the critical point of 178 million US dollars, which represent 50% of payments to the state budget. The problem of external debt is one of the most difficult that Moldovan Government has to resolve in the nearest future, and whose possibilities of manoeuvring according to foreign experts are very limited.

Moldova does not have much to choose. It either accepts rules of the external creditors' game and obtains restructuring of some debts in order to avoid default, or it does not accept them and will has to pull in the belt in order to make the payments that in no way could be delayed. There is a third option, i.e. to freeze the debts, which means nothing but a refusal to pay. IMF officials warn though, that Moldovan authorities will have rather serious problems even if they try to discuss this topic. At the moment Ministry of Finance has 2 million US dollars on its account, which it can use for repayment of external debt, but already during current month a more complicated situation could be created. In June 2000 some experts advised the Government to declare default on external debt.

Minister of Finance, Mihai Manoli considers that Republic of Moldova has to renew as soon as possible the discussions with IMF, and with other creditors in order to re-establish the relations with them. Otherwise, Moldova will have to use internal resources for repayment of external debt, which can lead to reduction of expenses in other segments of the economy and increase of pension and salary indebtedness. "We are in a situation when there is a necessity for an impartial, serious, competent and argumentative analysis", declared the Minister of Finance.

Chisinau, though, offers very few arguments in order to speed the beginning of negotiations. Thus, communist MPs approve decisions that imply an increase in budgetary expenditures in conditions when Moldova has large debts and small revenues, make declarations regarding revision of some privatisation projects, do not appoint financial consultant to "Moldtelecom" privatisation project although the established terms have expired long ago, are late with the privatisation of the tobacco factory and wineries, out of 13 companies none was offered for sale in a tender.

Even 50 days after the vote of confidence was given to it, the new Government seems to show a reformist European face for the outside world, and a different behaviour with deep communist manners in internal affairs.

Some analysts consider that the bet, which is made on a special regime of economic cooperation with Russia, is transient in conditions of a market economy, referring to the recent meeting of Moldovan-Russian intergovernmental Commission for economic cooperation. According to the Agreement regarding principles of indirect taxation, value added tax for example, will recognised in the country of destination and not the country of origin as it was practiced before. As a result, tax revenues from export of Moldovan wine and cigarettes, which have an important share in exports to Russia, will be accumulate to the Russian and not Moldovan budget. Indirect taxes on these goods according to some data rise up to 500 million Moldovan Lei. In exchange, natural gas, petrol and other important mineral products from the Russian Federation will be taxed as before, i.e. by the producer.

In order to avoid this "delicate" situation the Russian party has agreed to develop a compensation mechanism in payment of the debt to Russia. A possibility could be to reduce the interest rate of the state debt of the Republic of Moldova, which includes also the debt of Transnistria, amounting to 122 million US dollars, and interest rate for government bonds in amount of 90 million US dollars that were transferred to Russia in payment for natural gas. However, this option has to be negotiated.

Moldova can also find itself in a difficult situation if the declaration of some Russian officials is given a serious consideration according to which the payment for Russian gas with Moldovan products will no longer be acceptable while previously such type of relations accounted up to 20-30% of payments.

Republic of Moldova experiences a critical moment not only in the relations with creditors, but also in governing, which refers to the process of reforms. This is a controversial and confusing situation, and external creditors keep waiting.

Acest articol apartine lui Vlad BERCU si a fost plasat pe site-ul "Moldova Azi" de la

Va aluneca Moldova spre varianta bulgara?

Va aluneca oare Moldova spre varianta bulgara dupa venirea la putere a comunistilor? Este o intrebare la care vom avea raspuns abia peste citeva luni.

Moldova de astazi inca nu se aseamana cu Bulgaria din timpul guvernarii socialiste a lui Jean Videnov, cind tara a trecut printr-o acuta criza economica. In doar doi ani de guvernare, Videnov a reusit sa aduca tara intr-o izolare fara precedent si nu a izbutit sa convinga institutiile financiare internationale sa aloce noi imprumuturi. Tara a fost zguduita de o criza financiara.

Exista, insa, multe semne care amintesc de situatia din ajunul crizei bulgare. Confuzie in guvernare, mesaj extern controversat care doar deruteaza pe cei care ne privesc din exterior, lucru sesizat atit de misiunea FMI de la sfirsitul lunii aprilie care nu s-a soldat, cum era de asteptat, cu alocarea transei trimestriale ordinare din creditul Fondului, cit si de inalti demnitari ai unor organisme internationale si europene, cu care premierul Vasile Tarlev a discutat in timpul vizitei la mijlocul lunii mai la Bruxelles, unde a participat la cea de a treia sedinta a Consiliului de Cooperare R.Moldova - Uniunea Europeana.

Desi Fondul Monetar International nu declara pe fata ca a intrerupt finantarea R.Moldova, directorul Departamentului II European al FMI, Olding-Smee, a afirmat ca in situatia in care in Guvern mai continua discutiile, Fondul nu va adopta hotarirea privind "reluarea creditarii". Si asta in conditiile in care se conta pe credite externe in suma de 30 milioane USD ce urmau sa completeze in primul trimestru bugetul de stat. Pina la 25 mai la bugetul de stat au fost acumulate 1 043,9 milioane de lei, cu doar 1,8 la suta mai mult decat in perioada corespunzatoare a anului trecut.

Si daca golul financiar ce se poate forma din cauza stoparii creditarii externe mai poate fi acoperit, la fel cum s-a intimplat anul trecut cind R.Moldova nu a avut sprijin din exterior mai bine de 11 luni, criza financiara ce s-ar putea declansa in cazul in care nu se va reusi restructurarea unor datorii externe va fi greu de depasit. Plata pentru serviciul datoriei externe a R.Moldova va atinge in anul 2002 nivelul critic de 178 milioane USD, ceea ce reprezinta 50% din incasarile la bugetul de stat. Problema datoriei externe este una dintre cele mai dificile pe care urmeaza sa o rezolve deja in timpul apropiat Guvernul moldovean, ale carui posibilitati de manevrare sunt limitate, spun expertii straini.

Moldova nu prea are ce alege. Sau accepta regulile de joc ale creditorilor externi si obtine restructurarea unor datorii pentru a evita intrarea in incapacitate de plata, sau nu le accepta si va fi nevoita sa-si stringa cureaua pentru a achita platile care in nici un caz nu pot fi aminate. Exista si o treia cale, inghetarea datoriilor, ceea ce nu inseamna altceva decit refuzul de a le plati. Oficiali ai FMI avertizeaza, insa, ca autoritatile moldovene vor avea probleme destul de serioase chiar daca doar vor incerca sa discute aceasta tema. Ministerul Finantelor la moment are in cont 2 mln USD pe care le poate utiliza pentru plata serviciului datoriei externe, insa deja in luna curenta se poate crea o situatie mai complicata. In iunie 2000, unii experti au sugerat Guvernului sa anunte R.Moldova in incapacitate de plata.

R.Moldova ar trebui sa revina cit mai urgent posibil la discutiile cu FMI, cu alti creditori externi pentru a restabili relatiile cu ei, sustine ministrul Finantelor, Mihai Manoli. Altfel, R.Moldova va trebui sa utilizeze resurse interne pentru plata serviciului datoriei externe, ceea ce va conduce la reducerea cheltuielilor pe alte segmente si cresterea restantelor la salarii, pensii etc. "Suntem intr-o situatie cind trebuie sa analizam la rece, serios, competent si cu argumente", a declarat ministrul Finantelor.

Chisinaul ofera insa prea putine argumente pentru a grabi inceperea negocierilor. Astfel, deputatii comunisti aproba hotarari ce presupun majorarea cheltuielilor bugetare in conditiile in care R.Moldova are datorii mari si venituri mici, lanseaza declaratii privind revizuirea unor proiecte de privatizare, consultantul financiar la privatizarea "MoldTelecom"-ului nu a fost desemnat, desi termenul a expirat demult, intirzie privatizarea combinatelor din tutunarit si vinificatie, din cele 13 intreprinderi nici una nu a fost scoasa la licitatie. Chiar si peste 50 de zile de la acordarea votului de incredere, noul Guvern pare sa aiba o fata europeana reformista pentru export, iar pentru intern - alta, cu apucaturi profund comuniste. Miza care se pune pe un regim special in cooperarea economica cu Rusia este efemera in conditiile unei economii de piata, afirma mai multi analisti cu referinta la recenta sedinta a Comisiei interguvernamentale moldo-ruse de cooperare economica. Potrivit Acordului privind principiile perceperii impozitelor indirecte, taxa pe valoarea adaugata, bunaoara, va fi perceputa in tara de destinatie, dar nu in cea de origine cum se facea anterior. In consecinta, veniturile din impozitarea vinurilor si a tigaretelor moldovenesti ce au o cota importanta in exporturile spre Rusia vor veni in bugetul acesteia, si nu in cel al Moldovei. Impozitele indirecte la aceste produse, potrivit unor date, se ridica la 500 milioane lei. In schimb, gazele naturale, benzina si alte produse minerale importate din Federatia Rusa vor fi impozitate pe vechi, adica la producator.

Pentru a evita aceasta situatie "jenanta", partea rusa s-a angajat sa elaboreze un mecanism de compensare din contul datoriilor fata de Rusia. O varianta ar fi reducerea ratei dobinzii la datoria de stat a R.Moldova care, incluzind datoria Tiraspolului, se cifreaza la 122 mln USD, si la hirtiile de valoare de stat in suma de 90 mln USD transmise Rusiei in contul datoriilor pentru gazele naturale. Insa aceasta modalitate mai trebuie negociata.

Intr-o situatie dificila se poate pomeni R.Moldova si in cazul in care va fi pusa pe rol declaratia unor inalti demnitari rusi, potrivit carora nu va mai fi admisa achitarea in produse pentru importul de gaze din Rusia in conditiile in care anterior acest barter se ridica pina la 20-30 la suta din plati.

Republica Moldova trece printr-un moment critic nu numai in relatiile cu creditorii, dar si in ceea ce priveste procesul de reforma, actul guvernarii. Situatia e controversata si confuza, iar creditorii externi sunt in asteptare.