One of the failures of the state of emergency management, in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, was the uninspired procedure which aimed to discourage non-compliant behavior with penalties imposed by authorities. Citizens were fined 1100 euros, while the average Moldovan salary is seven thousand lei. Subsequently, a Constitutional Court decision offered Ministry of Internal Affairs employees an adequate instrument that allowed them to let citizens off with warnings or apply reasonable penalties to citizens who acted in a non-compliant manner. These are the opinions expressed by Igor Boțan, executive director of the Association for Participatory Democracy ADEPT, during a public debate titled "COVID-19 crisis management efficiency in Moldova".
According to Igor Boțan, ADEPT monitored a total of 15 institutions that were responsible for the pandemic crisis management. It was found that the head of state chaired 12 Single Command Center meetings. "It is hard to determine the added value of these meetings", because in fact, according to Boțan, the Commission for Exceptional Situations provisions were sufficient. In his opinion, the role of the president was strategic from a political point of view; however, there was no need for the president to be overzealous about it.
The executive argued that removing the Parliament from the decision-making process would speed up the management process, yet, in fact, this slowed its activity down, said the ADEPT director. MPs addressed the Constitutional Court, which, in turn, overturned some government initiatives, including the 200 million euro Russian Federation loan. "The executive later ended up in a bad situation".
"An attempt was made to set aside the Parliament, but some MPs, having the leverage to initiate motions to censure and to address the Constitutional Court, highlighted a series of shortcomings. A simple motion to censure was attempted. Even though it did not pass, it was useful because it generated an important crisis management report for the general public", he said.
"Another report was published after a month. Afterwards, a report on medical statistics was generated. These medical statistics showed how specific people were affected. It included the number of sick doctors and the number of deaths. These statistics had many flaws. Simple addition of daily provided data did not add up with final MSMPS report numbers. The number of deceased was mismatched by the hundreds. People were omitted from these statistics. This is simply unacceptable", said Igor Boțan.
According to ADEPT, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration conduct was relatively exemplary. It had a hands-on approach and it constantly kept citizens informed. "On the other hand, the Ministry of Internal Affairs stopped publishing data regarding the fines issued to citizens for violating epidemiological norms, before the state of emergency expired. The National Public Health Agency's biggest problem was it decision on testing, in the context that the positive test rate was over 24%, which is an extremely high indicator", said Igor Boțan.
The debate was conducted as part of ADEPT’s project "Keeping an eye on the authorities: managing the Coronavirus emergency and crisis", with the support of the Good Governance Department of the Soros Foundation Moldova.