Prime Minister Pavel Filip gives speech commemorating one year since being sworn.
"Dear representatives of the media, Dear citizens of Moldova,
Today, January 20th, one year since the inauguration of Filip Government, maybe it is better for us to do what any good householder does and generalize all things done.
We can for sure make reviews from all the reports made by ministries, there were good things and there were bad ones, which needed rebuilding. I think before we look at numbers, we must analyze the things we have done for people in 2016.
It was a difficult year. A year following 2015, which left us dried up and without respect from foreigner partners and investors. We've bee through an election year, during which some were only casting promises on TV.
At the same time it was a year we achieved two some of the more valuable things. First, we have recovered the credibility of foreigners. Today, our development partners have confidence in us, which means they trust us with money that started being invested in country's future. A second best thing is that we managed to do is ignite a little hope in the country's chances to achieve something better in the future. Unfortunately, we are still loosing people to better conditions abroad.
I am aware of the fact that right now it's difficult to persuade people that 2016 was a start of much greater things to create in the future, things that would not fail at the first crisis. I also know that there are economy professionals that know very well that the steps taken by Government have brought Moldova back on track. Both them and external partners know that reforms are bringing clear benefits to Moldovan people. These type of reforms have been started to be implemented in 2016. As people will understand their purpose, no crisis can stop the change and the modernization of the country.
Our part is to learn from that and keep explaining to people everything concerning the reforms undertaken, the fact that this will help our country reach the standard of abroad living, without young people dreaming of leaving the country.
So the first thing we had to do was to focus on social measures, because the risk to be unable to pay pensions and salaries was very high. The social measures were therefore most urgent to undertake. We have increased the minimum salary from 1,900 to 2,100 lei, we have indexed the pensions by 10 percent. Yes, I talk about the indexation of pensions as an achievement because it seemed surreal earlier. The parental allowances grew. In parallel, we started a much needed reform of the pension system that will ensure fairness in the system and create resources to support it on the long run. It is not fair that the pension for some categories will constitute 75% of the average wage, while the vast majority of pensioners have a replacement rate of three times lower, only 26% reported from the salary. These reforms are removing the injustices.
We managed a significant reduction by 40% of 160 drug prices. Prior to this, we increased the allocations for subsidized drugs by 50% and have expanded their list to 67. Now, Moldovan families are paying less for drugs. On the other hand, we managed an increase of 20% in salaries of health workers, a new mechanism of pay, based on performance indicators.
I understand these measures are not enough when the level o poverty is still high, but we wanted to solve the most immediate problems, while unlocking projects that will help improve citizen's lives.
Speaking of numbers, economists will surely understand some of them that should make us optimistic for future. First, approximately 500 million represents have bee offered to Moldova only for 2016. Second: over 350 million have been already unlocked for coming years. Third: specialists have forecasted a growth of about 3.5 percent of GDP. And finally, the fourth - the inflation rate of 2.4 percent, the second lowest inflation rate in the 25 years of independence.
Dear Moldovan citizens,
The situation in the country was complicated when we took over Government, at the time of a deep political, economic ans social crisis. I said that the only way for this Government to achieve is to avoid populism and politics. Talk less and do more, while working hard with development partners.
Another, fundamental element, which contributed to more efficient government was the relationship with external partners. The Government has demonstrated that it's able to take serious commitment and respect. Our relationship with development partners now relies on support actions and tangible results. It is an approach which I think is correct, stimulating Governance and I thank our partners for their consistent support for Moldovan citizens and modernization of our country.
All those who attacked the internal and external efforts of the Government and Parliament, all those who tried to block the approval of the IMF program, now face a tough reality. Just like Carla's Dreams song lyrics say " Yes, we are happy despite them thinking..." I hope they will wake up and stop their cynical attempts to keep the country in crisis and instability. And my message to these politicians, the so-called new political class is as follows: Demonstrate that you are better than the ruling parties, that you are not worse and destructive, as you did in 2016! The Government looks forward to opposition ideas and constructive solutions, realistic and helpful for Moldovan people! I want you to understand that you didn't succeed. Moldova has not deepened in political, social and economic crisis, on the contrary, successfully has overcome the crisis early last year.
But we all have our sins, we make mistakes sometimes, but I wish we would have a constructive approach, finally. I want a fair competition policy, for it to be based on a competition of good ideas for the benefit of people. I consider 2016 as the year that shows Government's results, which show credibility, both in the country and abroad. O I sincerely believe that the opposition parties should learn to be better and understand that blocking Government's activity is a failure.
Ladies and gentlemen,
After the first year of government, things change and we have international certification. Last Friday, January 13th, the international agency Moody's, a landmark for foreign investors has improved Moldova's sovereign rating from "Negative" to "Stable". Also last week, the European Commission has approved a program of macro-financial assistance of 100 million euros for the stabilization and development of the country. But as I said, the most important rating must be received from Moldovan citizens. The government I lead has the purpose to work on a daily basis and improve the figures in order to achieve welfare in citizens' homes.
The things we succeeded to do in 2016 allows us to build. And this is due to some results.
In November, for example, our country has signed an agreement with the IMF on 180 million dollars. Moldova has been supported in adopting structural reforms in the coming years. This would have not been possible if we have not proven to be able to implement difficult reforms. We would not have succeeded unless we have demonstrated the seriousness of the Roadmap in compliance with strict rules of the European Union.
Also from July 1st, 2016 we are officially associated to the EU, and this year we were primarily Europeans. Moldova is now validated and certified as development partner and international business country.
I want to repeat the message very firmly, this time, for development partners and investors: I assure you that the foreign policy of the Republic of Moldova is a European one and both government I lead and the Parliament will implement the Association Agreement with all determination. These two institutions are totally responsible and have constitutional force to meet existing commitments of our country.
I also want to draw attention to something important. We must do all things in order to have an irreversible path towards a better life for people. But better livelihood will not come if we continue, as happened in the last 25 years, have a dialogue at the office each institution and others in the street. I said and I repeat, I lead a government that wants to remove barriers and barricades between institutions and people. Solutions are found together at the table, not in the street. No one comes to invest in a country torn by protests. Or, protests were justified only when a problem is ignored. But together we know what problems we have and all we together have to know them and resolve.
A year ago we took over the government in a critical time, with thousands of people in the street. I asked then to judged us by our results. It could have been better of course. But I think we have a moderate optimism.
Moreover, the efforts to bring investment into the country could not be made, the banking system has not been strengthened, including measures to ensure the independence of the National Bank. We have also taken measures to strengthen the transparency and quality of shareholding in banks. We improved the state risk management in banks. Government legislation has been discussed and subsequently approved in parliament and will significantly contribute to improving corporate governance and risk management systems in the banking sector and will offer the National Bank the supplementary powers and tools for supervision and resolution. The process has included two directions: (a) the prudential framework and (b) the recovery and resolution of banks. This was greatly appreciated by foreign partners.
The 2016 year was also the year of reforms in Justice. As a result of joint efforts of the Government and Parliament the Law on the reorganization of the court system was passed, based on the reform of the judicial system in our country. Starting with August 1st, 2016 the new Law on Prosecution and Package Integrity Laws has been passed. They structures and mechanisms have been created to better prevent and combat corruption.
As I have said on several occasions, Moldovan agriculture is our wealth. In the agriculture field, we managed to keep our word and help farmers benefit of grants - in 2014, 2015 and 2016. I note also that unblocking EU funds for Moldova had a direct effect in agriculture through the transfer of 17 million euros through the ENPARD program. This is the first installment under this program and we continue to receive money if we prove ourselves serious in the future.
Another important thing in the public finances field is the draft state budget for 2017, which was voted in Parliament in mid-December. For the first time in the last three years, Moldova has entered the new year with the budget adopted. I also began reform of tax administration and customs, and the results were seen: 1 billion lei in cash in addition to the Tax Service and more than 1.6 billion collected in addition to the Customs Service.
For businesses, the 2016 year marked the reduction of the number of licenses, permits and licenses. At the same time, we have instituted a moratorium on state control and then we have developed a new mechanism for controls. This mechanism provides for reducing the number of entities with control of 69-18, including 5 independent regulators. I have taken a series of measures to support the Small and Medium Enterprises sector, understanding that it can be an engine for creating new jobs and economic growth. All these actions, and others, have enabled us to improve our attractive indicators in the business environment. Our country has climbed three positions in the World Bank Doing Business ranking.
Talking about the energy system, we have made steps linking it to the European one. We obtained over 550 thousand euros from the Romanian government for the project financing for Ungheni-Chisinau pipeline, and finance the construction of the gas pipeline in the amount of 102 million euros from the EBRD, the EIB and the European Commission. This important project will begin this year.
The transport field has also been reformed, through the Government Road Fund reform, which will generate domain by introducing objective criteria in the allocation of money to local authorities. We introduced one-stop shop for the issue of permits in road transport. 2017 will be the year of infrastructure projects to modernize the road and we have a significant number of kilometers of road and launching projects of bypass roads.
I have to recognize things in the education field have began to get better only this year. We have an honest dialogue with trade unions and started to find solutions to problems. We have given an important sign that we are able to resonate with the needs of teachers. At the same time I must say that we still have a legal framework on salaries of employees in the public sector, a very complicated, dense and unfair one. A working group is already developing a new deal.
I want to tell all Moldovan citizens that reunification of the country by solving the Transnistrian region conflict was and remains all the time in our attention. After a break of two years, we started again the talks in the 5 + 2, scoring after a number of achievements. We hope for further progress in 2017. Those who leave impressed by some recent statements, I repeat that the Government and Parliament will maintain the direction begun in this issue. We will have no hesitation, just as Moldova and the European integration project remains our only country.
We have also drafted the national defense strategy and have put it on pubic debate. Starting with March, the NATO Liaison Office has been opened in Chisinau and the dialogue and the cooperation has been initialized and welcomed in the national army.
The culture infrastructure has also benefited from significant investments. The headquarters of the "Dadiani" National Museum of Arts of Moldova has been restored, the Organ Hall and the theatre in Cahul town, thanks to the 2 million euro grant offered by Romanian Government and also thanks to Iurie Leanca. Also, with US support, the renovation of the monastery in Cuaseni village has been possible. One of the most important achievements of this year, is the lifetime pensions to 100 culture personalities, who have helped in the development of our culture.
Dear friends, as a man who is more of a manager than a politician it was an uneasy year for me, as Moldova passed through a great challenge, that being the presidential elections. It has also been uneasy for my colleagues, who have received attacks. What I have learned is that they can not attack as much as we can build and reform. They can say and do anything, but never fight the truth.
Therefore, 2017 should be the year of continuing to respect the commitments and their implementation until 2018 and for governments after parliamentary elections in 2018. Only medium and long term reliability coupled with concrete results, people will start believing themselves strongly in the future of the country. Because, indeed, they have been deeply disappointed in 2015 and have been felt betrayed.
There is no time to celebrate, neither time to slow down. The results should be not only maintained, but shown to every Moldovan citizens. It is our goal for 2017 and 2018 - to make progress and let everyone see it, and not leave anyone behind.
Of course, we have shortcomings, there are things, reforms that I wanted to achieve faster. We wanted to recover as soon as possible from the political crises. I am talking about government's reform, but some things require more time and any mistake can cost us enormously. So we decided to look out for external advice in order to have a fair and efficient reform in this field.
Although the relationship between civil society and government had improved in the previous period and we now have a useful and constructive dialogue, I think there is still room for improvement. I would like a more active involvement of professional organizations of the civil society, benefiting from professional and could give more reforms we engage expertise. We appreciate the dialogue with civil society, we promoted in 2016 and will continue to promote it. Transparency is essential for the health of a democracy. I believe that civil society should participate in the decisions made by the Government. To this end, we will soon create the National Council for participation in the Government.
We have to focus on the implementation of Association Agreement and have more time for consultations. This however I hope to improve it over time, without becoming more concerned than any public appearances.
2017 will be a difficult year for the government, but we want to be a good year for Moldovan citizens. We have commitments to the development partners and will continue to work on them.
On the other hand, we will clean the system, through fighting corruption and eliminate unnecessary expenses. We will multiply the budget revenues through a more direct relationship and simpler institutions with citizens and the business environment. We will decrease the bureaucracy and increase the confidence of investors in Moldova. Some of them are: the central administration reform, the reform of the State Chancellery, the budget transparency in tax and customs administration, asset recovery mechanism reform from criminal activities in corruption and money laundering.
The billion dollar theft remains the main priority for 2017. Over 700 million lei have been recovered on the interior of the country. At the same time, over 1.5 billion lei have been recovered from a recovery plan. Another 900 million lei have been recovered to the national Bank of Moldova, a ongoing process.
At the same time the activity of law authorities that are investigating the banking fraud has been centered on the repayment of the financial money from the seized assets of the perpetrators which will also enable the collection of more than 2 billion lei. Additionally, the Kroll investigation has already identified 600 million dollars and the final stage will come up with a concrete plan of recovery, so the money stolen that managed to reach other countries will be returned.
The political will exists, the best ways to recover the money remains to be identified.
The effective management of external financial assistance, the reform of state control and improving the business environment, local government reform and ensuring the energy security have been added to the list of reforms initiated to be implemented.
On the other hand, the Government care for the people of Moldova. In 2017, we aim to achieve a new labor code, the reform of the employment, implementation of the pension reform, reform of the hospital, primary health care reform, public health surveillance reform, curriculum reform and essential reforms related to social protection.
I want to thank my colleagues in government and tell them that this year the expectations are even higher. I trust that will be as serious as before. We enjoyed the understanding of the majority coalition colleagues, for which we are grateful and thank them for their consistent political support to the Government.
I want to thank our foreign partners for all the support they gave us in 2016, for being patient so we can prove seriousness. Massive thank you to Europeans for the thousands of millions of euro, the fruit of out hard work. This support is designed to increase the quality of life of Moldovan citizens, for Moldova to become a prosperous country, member of the European Union family.
I would like to finish with something that have marked my days of work. The press release by the European Commission announced the allocation of 100 million for Moldova, Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Pierre Moscovici, said so: "Moldova's recent efforts to stabilize and to adress the long-term vulnerabilities should be supported." I wish Moldovans to embrace the attitude of the Commissioner Moscovici and have as much confidence in this government as the Europeans do and support all reforms the country needs. And don't forget, the foundation for development is trust.