After a troubled 2019, Moldova is committed to make 2020 a year of growth, transformation, and reform. As prime minister of Moldova, I will lead a team of seasoned professionals whose key task will be to show that Moldova honours its commitments and works closely with its external partners, while pushing for more public investments and a better quality of life for its citizens. Our aim is this: stable but transformative governance.
The political drama is over in Moldova. Finally, the essential political institutions - the parliament, the presidency and the government - are working together to advance the public agenda and to deliver what has so often been promised but not realised: an overhaul of how the state understands its responsibility towards the people. We are ready to take advantage of the political truce, bank on the expertise and our years of public service, and show that a pragmatic and hands-on technocratic government is what is needed to rebuild the external and internal credibility of the country. This is no easy task, but the political will and the administrative, economic and intellectual resources are aligned and ready to make the most of this unique opportunity.
The essential pillars of our approach? Those who are used to seeing everything happening in Moldova as a geopolitical battle will be disappointed; the European integration, the strengthening of the cooperation with our Western and Eastern partners, the consolidation of democracy and rule of law and a solid and inclusive economic growth will continue to guide our efforts.
On the domestic front, the government will push for public works, especially road infrastructure and the energy sector, as this will ensure our competitiveness and make the country a more attractive destination for investment and job creation. At the same time, we believe in the role of an engaged and smart state, one that can improve public services such as healthcare and education and take advantage of digitalisation to redefine our economic profile and competitive advantage.
This would allow us to bring our economy into the 21st century and be among the winners of automation and the fourth industrial revolution. Unfortunately, Moldova has a demographic problem and this will have to be addressed immediately, with more attention and tailored policies for the youth, young families and professionals. To make Moldova attractive, we need to focus on boosting the standard of living of the population. We have to make efforts to raise wages and pensions; recently, all the public wages have increased (with education and healthcare being the priorities) and government will continue on this path. On top of this, ensuring that the judiciary is truly independent and that no one is above the law are mandatory steps in rebuilding the trust in an atomised society. In our view, structural reforms and social investment go hand in hand.
Moldova is ready to receive new investment and the government will work together with all those whose objective is to create jobs and opportunities. One of our competitive advantages is the soundness of our public finances. Moldova's public debt is only 25.2% of the GDP and went down by 1.9% in 2019; last year's budget deficit was 1.4%. After the implementation of comprehensive reforms, the banking sector is stable and reliable, with 93% of the assets owned by European investors. We have the context and room of manoeuvre to be bolder in terms of investments and infrastructure projects.
The EU integration, despite the less-than-enthusiastic view on enlargement by key member states, is Moldova's greatest chance to transform its institutions and practices. Cooperation with Western partners does not depend on who is in power, as everyone in Chisinau looks to these long-term relations as sources of inspiration and emulation. We will tirelessly work together with the European Commission, the European Parliament and other fora to spur investment, consolidate democracy and the rule of law, and make the country more attractive to foreign investments. What we want to add to the current arrangements is more pragmatism and a focus on results and deliverables, with the political aspects taking a back seat.
Against all odds, given the political uncertainty, the current agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) will be successfully completed by the end of March - a proof of the government's dedication to serious and structural reforms. It is our goal to work together with the IMF towards a new agreement and accordingly, I will soon sign a letter asking for the official launch of the negotiations procedure. In this context, I will make sure that our social and economic priorities are reflected in a new deal. Moreover, we will push for faster progress in building the necessary infrastructure to connect our energy system to the EU's and overhaul our judiciary.
I am happy to report that Moldova has left behind the sterile political bickering and has entered a new phase. We will govern without any partisan bias and we have guarantees that our mandate as technocrats and professionals will be respected and our reform plans supported. With pragmatism, competence and attention for long-term reforms and investments directed towards better living standard for every Moldovan, we can show that Moldova means business. I invite you to be not only a witness, but also a partner in our quest for positive transformation.
- Ion Chicu is the prime minister of Moldova.
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