Books on Moldova
Leu (plural: Lei)
Update No: 285 - (01/10/04)
Moldova is the poorest country in Europe on official
statistics. There is no reason to suppose these are incorrect.
It is of course true that beggars have motives for flaunting their poverty, but
the Moldovans have been generally too proud to hold out the begging bowl.
Their GDP per capita in 2003 was a meagre $1,908. Even in Moldova, where prices
of course are not on a West European scale, this does not go far. The economy
collapsed in the aftermath of independence, contracting indeed by two-thirds.
This is something, the consequences of which Westerners find difficult to
conceive. Awful things begin to happen under these circumstances.
People are selling their body organs for survival, a kidney or lung or whatever.
Young girls are sold into prostitution by their own parents. The very fabric of
public morality is breaking down.
The communists are the victors
In such an appalling situation it is hardly surprising that the communists are
back. The West gave some very bad advice to Moldova and several other countries
in the 1990s. Nostrums that may have been appropriate in say the UK, monetarism
and wholesale denationalisation, were not such a brilliant idea in the east of
Europe. The smartest academics and intellectual tyros in the West had long been
concentrating their brains on the transition from capitalism to socialism,
whereas the real issue was the reverse, how to manage the extraordinarily
difficult transition from socialism to capitalism. This has yet to find its Karl
The poor Moldovans, poor in every sense, are paying the price.
The economy recovers
Despite it all, or perhaps because of it all, the economy is recovering. GDP
grew by 6.3% in 2003 and is billed to grow by 5.5% in 2004. But this is peanuts
compared to the size of the problem. The Moldovans need a miracle. Unfortunately
they are unlikely to get it.
Inward FDI, the one possible saviour, is derisory. There is a turn-around going
on in Romania next door, a far bigger economy. That could turn out to be the
Moldovan cabinet trying to avoid default
The Cabinet is doing its level best to have the country's foreign debt
restructured and a supplement to the memorandum with the IMF signed so as to
have access to some credits, Moldovan Prime Minister, Vasile Tarlev, said in
response to questions about a possible default next year, Interfax News Agency
"The situation is not easy, but manageable. The threat of default has been
looming for seven or eight years becoming especially acute at critical times
when changes are pending," he said.
Tarlev was reluctant to comment on rumours of his dismissal.
Several newspapers have published reports of his imminent resignation, quoting
Internet sites as their source. The essence of the reports is that Tarlev who,
unexpectedly for quite a few people, became the prime minister of a Party of
Communists Cabinet in the spring is now compromising both President Vladimir
Voronin and the authorities.
"The Cabinet is consistently pushing the worst possible scenario of the
state interfering with the economy on behalf of local and foreign oligarchs, the
ruin of small and medium business and elimination of the emerging middle class.
The parliamentary voting machine with a silent president has given Tarlev a free
hand, making it possible for him to ignore both the facts of the economy and
society. In foreign policy the Cabinet has managed to have relations deteriorate
both with Romania and Russia," the Moldavskiye Vedomosti newspaper writes.
An article headlined "Who Are You, Mr. Tarlev?" classifies him with a
new breed of politicos for whom the state has a priority over people and who
"have no decent education or knowledge or cultivation, but are power-
hungry and greedy."
Asked by Interfax to comment on these publications, Tarlev said that they had
been financed by vested interests who want to destabilize the situation.
"I am not offended by these statements. I'm continuing to work and do my
duty. I am aware of the fact that our stay on earth and especially in an
official position is temporary. What is important is that the Cabinet is doing
its job," he said.
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