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

Why is the Minister of Finance alarmed?

Disclosure of the confidential letter by the Minister of Finance, Mihai Manoli, which a month ago was addressed to the top leadership of the Republic of Moldova, had a shocking effect. 
The Minister Manoli warns about eventual "total incapacity of the Republic of Moldova to make payments to external and internal creditors for a long period of time and on financial isolation without any solutions". 

The history in fact is repeating. A year ago, in June 2000, Centre for Investigations and Reforms, suggested the Bragis Government to declare that Republic of Moldova was insolvent. 

The situation in the current year is much more serious. The Bragis Government has finalised six months with a public revenues growth of over 44%, while the Tarlev Government has accumulated to the State Budget only 85,5% from the forecasted returns. The revenues have increased only 0,4%, and in the second half of the semester there was an 11% decrease of returns to the State Budget. 

In 2000, external debt payment amounted to USD 57,3 million, while in the current year Republic of Moldova has to pay USD 85 million. 

And finally, external creditors favoured the Bragis Government and only absence of support from the Parliament has postponed the resumption of external financing by the end of the year. Today, however, the things turn towards discontinuation of relations with IMF. 

What is worrying the Minister Manoli? 

First of all, some difficulties in realization of the 2001 State Budget and consequences of discontinuation of relations with IMF. The Minister, in fact, repeats some observations of IMF experts, who after their visit on 25 April - 2 May, expressed their dissatisfaction by the way Chisinau executed the provisions of the Memorandum. 

IMF mission has stated, as the Minister of Finance reminds to the top leadership, "some inconsistent elements" in Economic Program of the Government: price control on public goods, trade restrictions in order to protect the local producer, reestablishment of monopoly over alcohol and tobacco industries, preferential introduction in agriculture of payment facilities for electric energy. 

These provisions are conflicting with the articles of the Memorandum, signed at the end of the last year. 

The Minister Manoli observes that IMF has conditioned that external financing will be resumed if the Government undertakes certain measures among which submission to the Parliament of three draft laws regarding inspection before expedition, free economic zones and activity of financial institutions. IMF also requested the Government to announce the tender for two wine factories out of the established five factories, to abolish licenses for export, to abstain from increasing import tariffs and from introduction of non-tariff barriers in trade. 

In conditions when in order to put in practice the mentioned measures "it is necessary to have time and political will", but the examination procedures by IMF and other external creditors of the issue concerning resumption of finance takes "a long period of time"; the Minister Manoli warns that receiving contemplated loans for this year (first of all, USD 30 million from the World Bank and USD 6,3 million from the European Union) "could fail", and obtaining of some revenues in amount of MDL 151 million from privatisation of Electricity Distribution Network North and North-West "is not certain" due to "uncertainty" of the privatisation process. 

As a result, the possibility to collect MDL 660 million to the State Budget will be missed. On the other hand, the Minister of Finance says, that laws have been passed and there exist decisions and orders by decision makers, the implementation of which requires MDL 1 billion in expenses. 

Which are the immediate consequences of suspension of relations with IMF? First of all, the Minister of Finance states, it is impossible to realise the Poverty Reduction Strategy with external financing of USD 142 million. The meeting of Foreign Donors Advisory Group of the Republic of Moldova, preliminary scheduled for September will be cancelled, as a result grants from European Union in amount of USD 5 million, SIDA Agency in amount of USD 3 million, USAID - USD 2 million, Health care reform project - USD 30 million will be retracted. 

Chisinau will loose the chance to negotiate the restructuring of external debt by means of representatives of the Paris Club because they accept negotiations only if there are relations with IMF. 

The message is dated 14 June. In what extent is it valid now? In early June Chisinau was already one step from default, when only in the last minute it managed to pay USD 3,7 million the interest rate for the loan in amount of USD 75 million, whose term of repayment expires in June 2002. The payment was made from a loan received from the National Bank. The Parliament has allowed National Bank of Moldova to offer the Government a loan totalling to USD 30 million. Foreign currency reserves cover less than two and a half months of import and thus in case of eventual economic crisis Lei, the local currency, would drop and inflation would grow, state some analysts. 

Meanwhile Moody's Agency has degraded the rating of external obligations of Republic of Moldova to Caa1 and that of bank deposits to Caa2, and Fitch Agency has declared that the chances of integral payment of the loan in amount of USD 75 million in June next year are minimal. 

In the situation when IMF does not resume financing to the Republic of Moldova negotiations with the Paris Club could reach the deadlock, and compensation of eurobonds will be difficult due to their influence on the payment balance and will lead towards decrease of foreign currency reserves, says Fitch. 

At the moment, reestablishment of relations with IMF is the most important thing, as analysts say. Otherwise, restructuring of debts, resumption of external financing, covering the enormous budget deficit will fail. 

There exist, however, more signs indicating the continuous tension in relations with IMF. It seems, that Tarlev Government even does not try to convince international financial institutions to grant new loans, although more than two months have passed since the last visit of the Mission to Chisinau the Government did not recede to its activity programme towards which external creditors have big hesitations. 

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

De ce este alertat ministrul finantelor?

Deconspirarea scrisorii confidentiale a ministrului Finantelor, Mihai Manoli, adresata acum o luna conducerii de virf a Republicii Moldova a avut efectul unui soc. 
Ministrul Manoli avertizeaza despre o eventuala intrare in "incapacitate totala de plata a R.Moldova fata de creditorii externi si interni pe o perioada indelungata si o izolare financiara fara solutii". 

Istoria, de fapt, se repeta. Acum un an, in iunie 2000, Centrul de Investigatie si Reforme sugera cabinetului Braghis sa declare Republica Moldova in incapacitate de plata. 

Situatia din anul curent este, insa cu mult mai grava. Cabinetul Braghis incheiase sase luni cu o crestere a veniturilor publice de peste 44%, in timp ce Guvernul Tarlev a acumulat la bugetul de stat doar 85,5% din incasarile planificate. Veniturile au crescut cu doar 0,4%, iar in jumatatea a doua a semestrului s-a produs o reducere cu 11% a incasarilor la bugetul de stat. 

In anul 2000, plata serviciului datoriei externe a constituit 57,3 de milioane USD, in timp ce in anul curent R.Moldova trebuie sa plateasca 85 de milioane de dolari. 

In fine, Guvernul Braghis era agreat de creditorii externi si doar lipsa unei sustineri din partea Parlamentului a aminat reluarea finantarii externe pina la sfirsitul anului. Astazi, insa, lucrurile merg spre ruperea relatiilor cu FMI. 

Ce il alerteaza pe ministrul Manoli? 

In primul rind, unele dificultati in realizarea bugetului de stat pe anul 2001 si consecintele intreruperii relatiilor cu FMI. Ministrul, de fapt, reediteaza niste constatari ale expertilor FMI care dupa vizita din 25 aprilie - 2 mai s-au aratat nesatisfacuti de felul cum indeplineste Chisinaul clauzele Memorandumului. 

Misiunea FMI a constatat, aminteste conducerii de virf ministrul Finantelor, "unele elemente neconsistente" in Programul economic al Guvernului: controlul preturilor la bunurile sociale, restrictiile de comert in scopul protejarii producatorului local, restabilirea monopolurilor la tutun si alcool, introducerea de preferinte in agricultura, a facilitatilor la plata energiei electrice. 

Aceste prevederi sunt incompatibile cu clauzele Memorandumului, semnat la sfirsitul anului trecut. 

Ministrul Manoli noteaza ca FMI a conditionat reluarea finantarii externe prin luarea de catre Guvern a unor masuri, intre care inaintarea in Parlament a trei proiecte de legi ce vor viza inspectia inainte de expeditie, zonele economice libere si activitatea institutiilor financiare. FMI i-a mai cerut cabinetului de ministri sa anunte licitatii de vinzare a doua combinate de vinuri din lista celor cinci stabilite, sa elimine licentele de export, sa se abtina de la majorarea tarifelor la import si de la introducerea de bariere de ordin non-tarifar in activitatea comerciala. 

In conditiile in care pentru punerea in aplicare a masurilor mentionate "este nevoie de timp si de vointa politica", iar procedurile de examinare de catre FMI si alti creditori externi a chestiunii privind reluarea finantarii dureaza "timp indelungat", ministrul Mihai Manoli avertizeaza ca obtinerea imprumuturilor preconizate pentru anul curent (in primul rind, 30 mln USD de la Banca Mondiala si 6,3 mln USD de la Uniunea Europeana) "ar putea fi ratata", iar realizarea unor venituri in suma de 151 mln lei de la privatizarea retelelor electrice de distributie Nord si Nord-Vest "nu este sigura" in legatura cu "incertitudinea" privind procesul de privatizare. 

Ca rezultat, va fi ratata ocazia incasarii in bugetul de stat a unor venituri in suma de 660 de milioane de lei. Pe de alta parte, sustine ministrul Finantelor, au fost adoptate acte normative si exista hotariri si dispozitii ale factorilor de decizie, a caror punere in aplicare necesita cheltuieli in suma de 1 miliard de lei. 

Care ar fi consecintele imediate ale suspendarii relatiilor cu FMI? In primul rind, afirma ministrul Finantelor, devine imposibila realizarea Strategiei de reducere a saraciei cu o finantare externa de 142 mln USD. Va fi anulata sedinta Grupului consultativ al donatorilor externi ai R.Moldova, preconizata orientativ pentru pentru luna septembrie, ca urmare vor fi ratate granturi in suma de 5 mln USD din partea Uniunii Europene, 3 mln USD - din partea Agentiei SIDA, 2 mln USD - din partea USAID, 30 mln USD - pentru realizarea proiectului de reforme in domeniul ocrotirii sanatatii. 

Chisinaul va pierde sansa de a negocia restructurarea datoriilor externe prin intermediul reprezentantilor Clubului de la Paris, deoarece ei accepta negocierile doar daca ai relatii cu FMI. 

Mesajul dateaza cu 14 iunie. Pe cit de valabil este el acum? La inceputul lunii iulie Chisinaul s-a aflat deja la un pas de default, cind doar in ceasul al doisprezecelea a reusit sa achite o plata a dobinzii de 3,7 mln USD la un imprumut in suma de 75 mln USD, al carui termen de scadenta expira in 2002. Plata a fost facuta dintr-un credit al Bancii Nationale. Parlamentul a permis BNM sa ofere Guvernului imprumuturi in suma totala de 30 milioane USD. Rezervele valutare acopera mai putin de 2 luni si jumatate de import si, astfel, in cazul unei eventuale crize financiare leul se va prabusi, iar inflatia va creste, afirma unii analisti. 

Intre timp, Agentia Moody's a retrogradat ratingul obligatiunilor externe ale R.Moldova pina la Caa1 si cel al depozitelor bancare pina la Caa2, iar Agentia Fitch a declarat ca sansele de plata integrala, in iunie anul viitor, a imprumutului de 75 de milioane USD sunt minime. 

In cazul in care FMI nu va relua finantarea R.Moldova, negocierile cu Clubul de la Paris ar putea sa intre in impas, iar rascumpararea eurobonurilor va fi dificila prin influenta pe care o va avea asupra balantei de plati si va conduce la scaderea rezervelor valutare, noteaza Fitch. 

Restabilirea relatiilor cu FMI este, pentru moment, cel mai important lucru, spun analistii. Altfel nu se va reusi restructurarea datoriilor, reluarea finantarii externe, acoperirea deficitului bugetar enorm. 

Exista, insa, mai multe semne care arata tensionarea in continuare a relatiilor cu FMI. Cabinetul Tarlev, se pare, nici nu incearca sa convinga institutiile financiare internationale sa aloce noi imprumuturi, desi au trecut mai bine de doua luni de la ultima misiune a Fondului la Chisinau Guvernul nu a mai revenit la programul sau de activitate, fata de care creditorii externi au mari rezerve.