Moldova’s parliament to tackle fiscal tightening bill despite expert committee’s vote

By bne IntelliNews August 15, 2019

The Moldovan parliament has been summoned to an extraordinary meeting on August 15 to discuss the fiscal tightening bill drafted by the government, including the increase of the VAT rate for hotels and restaurants and taxation of meal vouchers, despite a negative vote given by the expert committee one day before.

In the expert committee, only the two out of six members — the representatives of the pro-EU ACUM bloc — supported the fiscal tightening bill while the three representatives of the Socialist Party (PSRM) abstained from voting. 

Failure to have the fiscal provisions passed smoothly would put at risk the financing expected by Moldova from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the European Union and Romania.

The Socialists’ opposition to the bill might herald the first formal conflict within their fragile alliance with the pro-EU ACUM bloc, headed by Sandu and Minister of Interior Andrei Nastase. 

The unlikely partners came together to oust the Democratic Party headed by controversial oligarch Vlad Plahotnuic — with Sandu saying they will “de-oligarchise” the Moldova state — but there are substantial policy differences between them, not least over Moldova’s geo-political orientation. 

President Igor Dodon, the informal leader of the pro-Russian Socialists, has firmly spoken out against the measures drafted by the government of Prime Minister Maia Sandu, claiming that they were dictated by the IMF and will have a negative social impact. The sole representative of the opposition in the six-member committee voted against the bill.

"Based on the procedures in force, this bill should not be debated in parliament, in fact it should not be even presented because it has not received enough votes in committee, but you know how they [the ruling coalition] behave. It is not unlikely that tomorrow we will have the draft law on the agenda and also the report [that the committee has not endorsed], even if this is not allowed by the procedures,” said Vladimir Cebotari of the opposition Democratic Party.

The speaker of the parliament, Zinaida Greceanîi, acknowledged that the PSRM deputies do not agree with certain points in the memorandum with the IMF, but she implied that the bill is going to be debated by the parliament on August 15.

“After all parties argue for or against the bill, we will have to judge what is best. You will see very heated discussions tomorrow,” Greceanii said on August 14, after the sitting of the permanent bureau of parliament.

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