The protests of transport companies are a symptom of the government’s inability to build a dialogue with the society. This is due to the huge distrust of the country’s leadership towards business, opposition, bureaucracy and finally Moldova itself.
Dmitri ASTAKHOV, RTA:
The modern history of the country has probably never witnessed a government that would treat everything Moldova-related in such a biased, unfair and disdainful way. Another example - the strikes of carrier companies on domestic routes which exposed a complete lack of trust between the government - more precisely, the relevant Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Spinu - and the transport associations.
The formal reason for the three-day downtime in the work of carriers is the government’s refusal to raise tariffs for intercity transportation, although the issue will be addressed again on February 10. As the transport workers’ unions perceive it, the tariff escalation is justified and inevitable given the increased costs resulting from the higher fuel prices. According to the relevant services, the gasoline (92 and 95) and diesel prices have increased by 9% and 13.5% respectively in just a month. A year-on-year analysis shows the growth of 35.5% for gas, 44.5 % for diesel, and slightly less than 40% for gasoline. Yet, the transportation tariffs never changed.
From a purely mathematical viewpoint, appeals of the transport workers’ union and relevant employers’ unions are quite logical, since fuel is a key component in the structure of carriers’ expenses. Moreover, the market value of vehicles has increased significantly in the previous and current year against the backdrop of economic recovery and revitalization following the lockouts caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Despite the objective economic explanation of the requirements of transport companies, Andrei Spinu continues a positional war with them – in the interests of the population, as it might seem. But in fact it was precisely the people who suffered as they couldn’t travel inside the country during these few days.
Moreover, a media campaign was launched with the aim to present the situation in such a way as if the strikers are in the minority, passenger routes are generally operational and there are no complaints from citizens. Obviously, Andrei Spinu is guided by the belief that transport workers are speculating by raising prices, while in reality they have probably accumulated profit which should be taken away now. Quite a standard bureaucratic view of the business situation.
The Moldovan government was initially of the same opinion in negotiations with Gazprom, trying to bargain for discounts and considering Moldovagaz almost the richest enterprise in the country which might have stored colossal assets. The same thing will happen in the spring during negotiations on electricity supplies to the right bank of the Dniester.
Actually, even the growing fuel prices per se were perceived by the government as a sign of cartel collusion. A war with ANRE was almost started, whose leadership, due to its experience, has a somewhat better idea as to the principles of how the Moldovan and global markets are functioning, where similar trends prevail today. After all, Moldova does not produce fuel and has to buy it from abroad.
There is a feeling that the authorities’ current distrust towards any business takes the form of phobia or prejudice. Part of a long-held political vision, they can hardly be transformed. They say, if a business or a citizen, one way or another, survived without the partners’ external support during the tenure of Vladimir Plahotniuc and Igor Dodon, they are sure to be somehow connected with the corruption schemes and violations.
Officials are treated in the same way. Professionalism is not considered. Only the specific time period of public office is important. Exactly this parameter serves to divide everyone into “us” and “them” who cannot be trusted on any account. In general, apparently, during the time of Vladimir Plahotniuc, Igor Dodon or the Communists, all trustworthy citizens had to be employed exclusively in the third sector or in multinational companies operating in the republic. All other options are an inevitable blot on the reputation.
On the other hand, if a business person was persecuted during Vlad Plahotniuc’s rule, then he/she automatically enjoys the trust of the authorities. Despite the fact that the reason for criminal cases could often be quite solid.
Such specific attitudes are in many ways dictated by the instructions of international partners. The formal purity of the current authorities is a fetish for them, an excuse to forgive any failures and shortcomings of the government, including legal excesses and reprisals against the undesirables, which, as in the case of Prosecutor General Alexander Stoianoglo, are openly absurd.
By denying all previous administrations, the current government doesn’t only seem to be less professional. It denies virtually everything associated with Moldova and all the previous achievements. There might have been indeed very few of them, but today’s authorities do nothing but rush from one crisis to another, without generating any added value of their rule. Therefore, according to the results, the first six months turn out to be one of the most unstable even against the background of the last tough years, despite a confident parliamentary majority, the “party” government and the president.
Denying the previous experience also concerns international relations and the Transdniestrian settlement process. These dimensions also witness the attempts to start from scratch, which does not bring any positive results. Relations with Russia are systematically and persistently destroyed, as are all adequate communication formats within the CIS, to which Moldova was provided generous access at one time.
The current authorities need to come to terms with the previous history of Moldova, which largely reflected public demands and attitudes, the then socio-political formation and geopolitical context, stop fighting with the past and move forward. Destruction only, without creating anything in return, won’t help the ruling party to succeed, and sooner or later it will also become a memory.