Opinion: Gavrilita’s Government Will Become a Lightning Rod After All

Home / Comments / Opinion: Gavrilita’s Government Will Become a Lightning Rod After All
Apparently, the sad end of the current government is inevitable – but before its resignation, it will complete its “shock therapy” for Moldova in order to absorb public negativity as much as possible and allow its successors to start from scratch
Semyon ALBU, RTA: PAS’ triumph on the European stage has not radically changed the more than dismal situation for the “yellows” in the country, nor has it added to the people’s love for them. People are well aware of everything; it won’t be as easy to convince them with empty promises as it was in 2014. The public sentiment will only begin to change when the aid from the EU flows into the country, when it begins to be converted into some real improvements for the people in the form of higher wages and pensions, improved infrastructure, quality services and a functional justice system. But something tells me that this will not happen soon– if at all. In the meantime, the government has found itself in the middle of yet another scandal with the reorganization of higher education institutions, which, in fact, means radical downsize and merging. The decision is not indisputable, but it is not unreasoned either. Objective data show that the number of students in Moldova has halved in the last fifteen years, and it would be strange if such a colossal drop did not affect the number of higher education institutions in the country. But then again, the managerial style of this reform leaves much to be desired, and the population was never clearly explained what is being done and why. It should not come as a surprise that people now see in the reduction of universities, above all, a trivial desire to save budgetary funds by “bleeding” the higher education system or even a mercenary motive to profit from the vacated expensive property. This story, which affects the government badly, is only one in of many. In fact, the present team of ministers has not had a single really big, long-term successful case in the past year, except for some well-filled questionnaires to Brussels. Last fall, there was a well-publicized increase in pensions to 2,000 lei – but in fact, it did not affect everyone who expected it, and this year’s inflation has more than offset even the small positive effect of this “pension increase”. So the government is still unable to climb out of the negative pit, where it has fallen almost from the first days of its rule. In fact, instead of managing the country, it has to deal with crisis management. Part of these crises is directly linked to its own actions, which together can be called “shock therapy” for Moldova. My colleagues and I have already written more than once about the fact that the current government will definitely effect it. The final goal is to cut state expenditures altogether, introduce “market regulation” to the maximum, place all state institutions and agencies under the control of the ruling party, create the ground for the final drift to the West and severance from traditional connections, including in the energy sector. Of course, such cardinal changes cannot be made without consequences for the country and society. But socio-economic logic and the interests of the population are here sacrificed to political expediency. As Igor Grosu once said, the main goal of the PAS is to win the next elections. Nothing of what you may have thought. Proceeding from political technological considerations, it is now in the interest of the authorities to string more popular dissatisfaction onto the current government, making it the scapegoat for all the sins of the “yellow team”. Our prognosis that the Gavrilita government is a suicide government is gradually coming true. Objective circumstances, such as hostilities in Ukraine, and frankly weak appointments to ministerial positions, especially in the financial and economic sectors, have also contributed to this. So the way I see it. This summer, the Cabinet will continue to make unpopular decisions, cutting all expenses and social benefits. The increase in interest rates on the Prima Casa mortgage project, the already mentioned merger of universities, the maximum narrowing of support measures in favor of “targeted” methods, and amendments to the Labor Code, which sharply violate workers’ rights in favor of employers. On top of it we have the continuing price increase, high cost of fuel, unpopular measures in agricultural sector, with the inability to help farmers, as Natalia Gavrilita frankly admitted at the meeting with them. Problems with energy security is also there. The gas price is growing very fast. In June we paid $880 per thousand cubic meters, in July we already paid $980, and in August, given the current price dynamics in European markets, the price is likely to jump up to $1,200 or more. That will inevitably cause another tariff adjustment, naturally, towards an increase for consumers. As for what will happen closer to winter, it is even hard to imagine. The fact that the government cannot cope with all these challenges, even in spite of making life easier by administrating in a state of emergency mode, is obvious to everyone. And things are so bad that the search for solutions to the biggest problems has already been delegated to parliamentary commissions, which, however, have not yet achieved any particular results. Hence the declining ratings of the PAS, which is no longer the most popular party in the country. Now there are signals even from the ruling party’s faction in parliament that organizational conclusions will be drawn concerning the work of the Cabinet and that there will be “consequences”. That is, apparently, personnel rearrangements. In fact, I think that the authorities will try by all means to hold on in the current configuration at least till the late autumn, when all the current crisis phenomena will reach their apogee. At that point, there will most likely be an increase in protest sentiments, which will also need to be countered. And then the time will come for a controlled blowing off the “steam”, represented by the very unpopular government of Natalia Gavrilita. And if by that time the situation becomes very difficult for the ruling party, I do not exclude that some portfolios in the new cabinet may be shared with the opposition in the wrapping of a “coalition of national salvation” while retaining all the real levers of power in the PAS.