ECO-BUS WEEKLY DIGEST May 3-9. Most important Economy & Business news by IPN
● TUESDAY, May 4
Early booking for summer vacation declined, tourism manager
The uncertainty caused by the pandemic cut Moldovans’ élan to rest abroad. According to the National Bureau of Statistics, the number of persons who traveled through travel agencies in 2020 decreased by 76% compared with 2019. Respectively, early booking that could ensure discounts of up to 50% for the summer vacation declined drastically this year, tourism manager Natalia Ternovetskaya. Until 2020, winter was the most suitable period for planning a summer vacation and benefiting from discounts. Many of those who booked tickets last winter didn’t go abroad owing to the travel restrictions imposed in Moldova and the countries of destination in connection with the pandemic. As a result, not many risked booking this year, only about 10% of the tourists. The situation improved in January as the vaccination process started in the world and hope that the situation will change until summer appeared. Also, many countries formulated attractive offers. “It was an advantage concerning prices. For example, for the Maldives such low prices have never been provided, with discounts of almost 50%. Turkey also had attractive offers in January and February, including free accommodation for children,” said Natalia Ternovetskaya.
PPPDA invites to protests: Oil companies cross any red line
The Party “Dignity and Truth Platform” (PPPDA) demands to urgently convene the Parliament’s commission on economy, budget and finance so as to question officials in charge of the National Agency for Energy Regulation and the Competition Council and stabilize the situation on the oil products market. The head of the parliamentary group of the PPPDA Alexandr Slusari said that the oil companies amid the governmental chaos cross any red line. “Even if there is a report by the Competition Council pointing to multiple concerted actions of these companies, the oil companies resort again to cartel agreements, being sure that they will not be penalized this time too. The fuel prices have been raised the sixth time the past four months, again absolutely unjustifiably if we take into account the international crude oil quotations. This is a new blow given to the country’s economy, especially agriculture,” said Alexandr Slusari. The MP noted the actions taken by the oil companies represent crass defiance of common sense as they aim to increase their revenues before the modification of the methodology for calculating the minimum price of oil products. Alexandr Slusari also said that the citizens have the right to take to the streets in such cases and he called on them to do it. He asked for a meeting of the Parliament’s commission on economy, budget and finance to be convened immediately so as to question functionaries of the National Agency for Energy Regulation and the Competition Council and stabilize the situation on the oil products market.
Holes on Chisinau streets started to be stopped up
The works to stop up the holes on the municipal streets, especially those that are access ways to the city, are underway. According to the acting head of the General Public Transport and Communications Division Vitalie Mihalache, such works are now performed on the bridges Viaduct and Mihai Viteazu, on Sângera Estacada, on the section of Petricani St between Poltava St and the rotary near Supraten Market and other sections. In the ordinary meeting of officials of Chisinau services and divisions, Vitalie Mihalache said the tender contest ended on April 29, but there are challenges. If the process goes smooth, the works to stop up the larger holes will start the next few weeks. The road sections that will be under repair works will be available on the websites of the Chisinau City Hall and the Division. Such works will be soon started on Belinski St given the possibility of extending a new trolleybus route. The project of the contact line on Columna St, along which public transport will move, is close to completion. Mayor of Chisinau Ion Ceban said that even if the tender contest to purchase hot mix asphalt was held, there are problems at the central level related to the switchover to the European standards.
Call to consumers who disconnected themselves from centralized heating system
The persons who do not want to pay for the transit of heat through pipes going via their apartments that were disconnected from the centralized heating system are urged to join in a related case that is pending in court, said lawyer Nicolae Marian, who noted that the given problem is faced by 33,500 people and there are a series of court decisions to the detriment of consumers on the issue. However, an unprecedented case is now examined in court. In a news conference at IPN, doctor of law Nicolae Marian said that there was a period in the 1990s, when it was possible to install autonomous heating systems with corresponding authorizations. However, at a certain moment, those dwellers were forced to pay a percentage rate for the transit of heat though common pipes. A series of court decisions to the detriment of consumers followed.“But now we have an unprecedented case that is examined in court. There was raised the exception of unconstitutionality of a Government decision by which the possibility for SA “Termoelectrica” to collect such payments is justified. For one reason or another, the Constitutional Court, when it examined the exception of unconstitutionality, ordered to stop the examination of the constitutionality control, arguing it goes to the exercise of control over regulations for applying the law and this exercise should be performed by the administrative court. The latter accepted the request which should be supported by all those who suffer because of this problem,” stated the lawyer.
Payments collected by “Termoelectrica” from consumers with autonomous heating systems are illegal, lawyer
Lawyer Nicolae Marian said the payments for the transit of heat through pipes going via apartments that were disconnected from the centralized heating system are illegal. The heat that is owned by SA “Termoelectrica”, without the consent of the consumers with autonomous heating systems, goes through the apartments of these and is sold to other persons. This happens in the absence of particular conditions that would be mutually advantageous to consumers and “Termoelectrica”, while the revenues from entrepreneurial activity covers only the supplier’s interests. In a news conference at IPN, Nicolae Marian said that under the legislation, a contract between the consumer and the supplier should be signed, but this is absent. “As we do not have such a contract, “Termoelectrica” cannot collect payments for the supply of heat. On the other hand, the Law on Dwellings says that in the case of services that are not metered individually, the metering is performed by the cooperative or condominium co-owners association, which, for its part, distributes the quantity of used benefits to each consumer,” explained the doctor of law.
● THURSDAY, May 6
Law that caps oil prices promulgated
President Maia Sandu on May 5 promulgated the law that caps the prices of oil products. According to the official, the necessity of capping the prices of oil products by law appeared as a result of the cartel agreements existing on the oil products market and the inaction of the Competition Council. Maia Sandu noted the law that came from Parliament is weak as it contains unclear provisions that were probably introduced by particular MPs, but she decided it is better to sign it as it is and to later propose amendments, immediately after the elections. “The next Parliament will have to improve this law together with the Government, to bring things in this field in order,” she stated. President Sandu noted she will recommend the MPs to amend the provisions that refer to the method of capping the prices of liquefied petroleum gas, to adjust the law to the quality standards and to correct the formula specified in the law, where there is confusion between volume and weight. The official said the promulgation of the law is a signal given to the market players, the mentioned institutions and the politicians who defend group interests that the unjustified price rises and unjust enrichment of some of the persons will no longer be tolerated. The last time the fuel prices were raised at the end of April.
First ZUP that envisions building of large complex in Chisinau presented
Socialist councilor Vasili Chirtoca, who heads the Chisinau Municipal Council’s commission on constructions, architecture and land relations, presented the first Zonal Urbanistic Plan (ZUP) that enables to build a large complex in the capital city. Vasili Chirtoca told a news conference that the plan is welcome and beneficial to the city. The draft ZUP was approved by the commission he represents, but not immediately as it contained shortcomings. It was supplemented with proposals formulated by the commission, such as to allot more space for social infrastructure, to build two closed gyms, one with swimming pool and another one for sports games in the complex that should have at most 20 stories, to earmark space for open sports grounds and for a multistory car park for the visitors of the Botanical Garden, to erect a private kindergarten for 80-100 children. There are two more kindergartens near the site of the complex, at a distance of 50-100 meters, and also five-six schools, two of which are private. Vasili Chirtoca noted that investments of 2 billion lei are to be made in this complex that will be constructed on the lot of an enterprise that no longer works. According to the municipal councilor, the project will be implemented during five-seven years. This year, the General Urbanistic Plan of the city will be supplemented so that more transport routes go along Burebista St. “ZUP Burebista is the first ZUP that enables to project and build a large complex in the municipality of Chisinau, where the infrastructure of this quarter is taken into account,” stated Vasili Chirtoca.
● FRIDAY, May 7
30-50% of bees died owing to drought, lower honey harvest projected
A smaller quantity of bee honey will be harvested in Moldova this year as 30-50% of the bees kept at apiaries died this spring owing to the drought of last summer and because the bee families overwintered with difficulty, said the president of the National Association of Beekeepers of the Republic of Moldova (ANARM) Ion Maxim. According to Ion Maxim, the beekeepers affected by the drought of the summer of 2020 weren’t included in direct subsidization because the Ministry of Agriculture, Regional Development and Environment didn’t work out and approve the common system for identifying apiaries and beehives according to the EU policies in the field. The lack of state financing for the 2021-2022 action plan for implementing the national apiculture development program for 2021-2025, which was approved by the Government, is another serious obstacle to the development of the beekeeping sector. Contacted by IPN for details, Valentin Roșca, head of the animal products manufacture, processing and quality regulation division of the Ministry of Agriculture, said it is not true that there are no funds for the 2021-2022 action plan for implementing the national apiculture development program. “Most of the actions are stipulated in the subsidization regulations and they are implemented through subsidization. No one will allocate a separate sum to them (beekeepers, e.n,),” stated Roșca.
Official reserve assets of NBM on the rise
The official reserve assets at the end of April came to US$3.750,75 billion, up US$43.07 million on March 31, 2021, when they totaled US$3.707,68 billion.
The rise in the official reserve asserts was determined by the appreciation of the exchange rates of the currencies that form part of the reserve assets against the U.S. dollar, in the amount of US$36.25 million, the registration of budget support disbursed by the World Bank institutions, to the value of 26.46 million, and also by the registration of loans and grants in favor of the Ministry of Finance for investment projects, in the amount of US$17.75 million. Also, the rise was influenced by the net inflows into the account of the Foreign Assistance Programs Management Office, to the value of US$2.37 million, revenues from the management of the currency reserves of US$0.54 million and other net inflows of US$ 3.77 million.
“MĂR” asks Public Health Commission to lift restrictions applying to hospitality industry
The National Association of Restaurants and Recreational Facilities of the Republic of Moldova (MĂR) considers it is inopportune to maintain the restrictions concerning the work program (by 10pm) of public eating places and to fully ban festive events. The association made such an approach to the Extraordinary Public Health Commission of Chisinau municipality, asking to lift these restrictions. More exactly, MĂR asks to annul the restriction concerning the work program of public eating places in the municipality of Chisinau, to allow holding festive events with at most 50 persons in public eating places in the municipality of Chisinau and to allow summer terraces in the municipality of Chisinau to work according to last year’s placing schemes, given the absence of new regulators. The association noted that these restrictions were imposed at the end of last November by the National Extraordinary Public Health Commission when the epidemiological situation in the country was alarming, with over 1,200 daily cases of COVID-19. The number of infections in the municipality of Chisinau has been under 100 a day the past month. According to MĂR, the losses now represent 80% compared with the corresponding period of 2019, depending on the type of public eating place. The restrictions lead to the loss of jobs by employees. Since the start of the pandemic, the hospitality industry lost about 45% of the employees.
● SATURDAY, May 8
Annual inflation rate continued to fall below lower limit of 5 percent target range
The National Bank of Moldova’s Inflation Report No.2 reveals that after a downward trend the previous year, in the first quarter of 2021 the annual inflation rate reflected the beginning of an upward trajectory, increasing from 0.2 percent in January 2021 to 1.5 percent in March 2021. However, it continued to fall below the lower limit of the 5 percent target range. In the regional economic context affected by the pandemic, also against the background of internal restrictions and adverse weather conditions for the agricultural sector in the fourth quarter of 2020, the dynamics of economic activity in the Republic of Moldova continued to be negative, outlining preconditions for modest GDP in the first quarter of 2021. At the same time, aggregate demand will continue to recover, although it will be disinflationary for the next 3-4 quarters. This will be influenced by the recovery of external demand, improvement of monetary conditions and recovery in agriculture this year. “Monetary policy decisions strengthen the position of the National Bank of Moldova in creating monetary conditions to support the lending process, stimulate domestic demand and ensure an adequate level of liquidity in the banking sector, necessary for the recovery of the national economy,” said NBM Governor Octavian Armașu.