The Year of Gavrilita’s Government: No Gains

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Anton Șveț
Today the ministers of Natalia Gavrilita’s government reported on their first year of work. Most of them, reporting on the “successes”, clearly painted rosy pictures
Sixty-one PAS members voted to appoint Natalia Gavrilita’s government last August 6. Until today, the composition of the government, which included PAS members and nonpartisan ministers, has remained largely stable. Only the “ill-fated” position of Deputy Prime Minister for reintegration, which has even been vacant for over two months, has been replaced. Rotation of the Minister of Agriculture and Food Industry has also taken place quite recently. Today, members of the Cabinet of Ministers have reported on their work during the year, trying to remain optimistic and highlight the positive aspects of their sectors, which in most cases has proved rather difficult. Typically, the bureaucrats chose foreign approval as the main criterion for their work quality evaluation. Natalia Gavrilita directly stated that the government’s efforts have been noticed outside the country. It is an expected technological trick, given the public protests and the obvious discontent of the population with the executive’s work. The protests in Gagauzia and the rallies in Chisinau, together with the rapidly falling, according to sociological surveys, ratings of the government do not allow them to seriously consider supporting PAS’ domestic activity. During the year of the government’s activity, for both objective and subjective reasons, the security situation has sharply deteriorated, the crime situation has worsened, migration and demographic risks have increased. However, the key problems are economic – the living standards of the population have plummeted, inflation has exceeded 30%, and there are no guarantees of affordable gas and electricity supplies. The agricultural sector is in crisis because of the abnormal heat wave, rising fuel prices, and the loss of several eastern markets. The country’s reintegration is at a standstill instigating additional military and political risks as the conflict in Ukraine develops. In this regard, the ministers’ achievements list was highly subjective, essentially becoming an attempt to turn wishful thinking into reality. Perhaps it was the easiest for Foreign Minister Nicu Popescu to report successes since Moldova’s candidate status for EU membership was a pleasant surprise for the authorities, who enjoy the Western community’s unconditional protection. The granting of Moldova’s application came despite the absence of a long-term strategy and successes in harmonizing legislation or promoting reforms and was purely geopolitical. But it has become a major “asset” for our pro-European authorities, even though it has come at a price. In Moldova, armed EU border and migration officials have been deployed, the high-level EU advisors’ influence has increased, and the national army is being militarized and re-profiled according to NATO standards. The leadership strongly supports the EU policy in Ukraine and condemns Russia’s actions, disregarding its own trade, economic and energy interests. The situation is much more difficult for Deputy Prime Minister for Infrastructure Andrei Spinu, considered the main culprit in the failed negotiations with PJSC Gazprom. If the supply of cheap electricity from the left bank of the Dniester has still managed to cover 75% of the demand (another quarter comes from warring Ukraine with a noticeable overpayment, which will sooner or later require an increase in tariffs or lead to runout of the electricity transporting infrastructure), the situation in the gas sector is progressing downhill. Given the flawed formula for calculating the gas price of, to put it mildly, its cost to end users in Moldova has reached enormous levels. The government is already predicting a difficult winter and is seriously urging citizens to save money and stock up on firewood. But Andrei Spinu keeps optimistic and promises to make a fundamentally different situation on the gas market in 2-3 years and a new energy strategy until 2050. Apparently, the modernization of the airfield in Marculesti will be finished by the same dates – it’s just that not everyone will live to see it. Another Deputy Prime Minister, Oleg Serebrian, does not have much to say about any progress either – the two sides have virtually stopped negotiating and are only exchanging mutual accusations in the media. The 5+2 meetings have not convened for almost three years, and there are no official meetings with the Tiraspol leadership either, although there were informal contacts. Perhaps the only positive point here is that so far it has been possible to maintain relative stability on the left bank, around which things stir up from time to time. Economy Minister Sergiu Gaibu reported the growth of GDP in the republic. However, this 1% growth in no way compensates for the inflation surge and domestic investment deficit. The country’s economy is currently sustained solely by generous foreign subsidies (and foreign remittances), while the government cuts all social programs and is engaged in another optimization of the education system. The justice reform, promoted by Justice Minister Sergiu Litvinenco, has come down to placing foreign curatorial favorites in key positions, as well as to punishing political opponents under the guise of fighting for the “good times”. No matter how hard the Cabinet members try to play nice, the results of their year-long work are disappointing: strengthening and regionalization of protest moods, physical crackdown of the opposition, deep social and economic crisis, the destruction of cooperation with Russia, and the ongoing crisis in the Transdniestrian settlement. Most discouraging being the realization that over the past year the ruling party’s complete lack of a long-term plan and vision for the country’s development has revealed. There is not even an understanding of how Moldova will survive this winter, and most members of this government seem to be already thinking about when to return to their positions in foreign organizations.