Interview with Pavel Filip, the Prime Minister of the Republic of Moldova
What were the biggest challenges that the Moldovan Government faced in 2018?
The main challenge for me, but also for the Cabinet of Ministers was and is to be able to solve the problems of our citizens.W e must offer a better life to the citizens now and here, not just tomorrow or in the near future. People really want a better future, but they also want to live well now. The population of this country is already tired of meaningless promises: have the patience today, because tomorrow will be better. We are trying to make our plans according to popular wisdom, which has not yet lost its relevance: “We have to help people when they need it when they do not do it alone.”
I often hear people saying: let’s do like them, to implement exactly as it was in that country. This practice seems to me to be populist. I do not agree with the implementation of the initiatives of another country without making an impact and opportunity analysis, an analysis of the social, political, economic, moral-spiritual situation we are in, without taking into account the needs of the inhabitants in our country.
I have a good managerial experience, I have led some of the largest companies in the country, and I know we can manufacture the most unusual products. The business must offer to people the necessary products. So the business will grow on the market, and people will say that we have created unusual products and fewer people will say that this business does not offer the necessary products.
This does not mean that we should not think of what we will do today and how we will do tomorrow, this does not mean that the government’s reforms and actions are implemented in the short term. It’s simple, you must first solve the current problems, then you can and you know how to build your future.
Which, in your opinion, were the three biggest achievements of the Government in 2018?
The government team, which I have the honour to lead, has conscientiously done its work. I will not say that one project or another is better than others. The achievement of our team is that we have managed to maintain economic growth, that we have managed to restore the confidence of the business field and, very important, we have managed to give to people the hope that things are moving in a good direction.
For example, pension reform has allowed over 300,000 people to feel that they have not worked in vain. However, the pensions of these people have been brought to the level of contributions made during their years of work.
Tax Reform helped businessmen to redirect a part of their revenue to development of business and growth of wages.
Wage reform allowed us to raise wages to nearly 200,000 employees in public structures. This reform motivated people to work in the state.
What mistakes do you think were made in 2018 on government lines?
You cannot be wrong if you do nothing. Any mistake is a start for a new beginning: I carefully analyze what I have done, detect the error and continue the project with new forces. It is also an engineering discipline, however, I am an engineer. In order to create and make a mechanism work well, engineers make thousands of steps, make mistakes, come back, correct and move on, and finally present a functional product. To make mistakes and to know how to correct your mistake is not a bad thing.
How much did the Government’s efficiency increase after the January and September changes?
To answer this question I will invite you to an imaginative exercise. Let us imagine two building sites: one for the construction of a small house with a staircase and four floors; another for the construction of a new urban neighbourhood, consisting of several blocks of 10 and 16 floors. In the first case, only one person is in charge of expenses logistics and other organizational actions; in the second case, a large department with several subdivisions and employees is involved. Both projects were profitable, but at a certain point, the managers of projects decided that their business should correspond to the organizational structure of a very large company, and the result was predictable: the bosses wanted to create the impression that they were working hard, and in reality, things moved slowly. The end to which they were heading was uncertain. The expenses were too high for a relatively small structure.
What I want to suggest and is not a secret, we have fields with a large bureaucratic system. We need to be aware that many bosses and employees do not mean much efficiency. We are a small state, we cannot claim to have administrative structures similar to a large country with a giant economy.
I hope I was quite explicit and that I answered exactly your question.
What changed in the activity of the Government after the weekly visits in the territory?
Very much. First of all, we have the possibility to find out from the first source about the needs of the people, of the business, but also of the local administration and the barriers that do not allow the realization of some projects. In this way, the Government knows exactly where to intervene urgently and where better planning of activities is needed. Every time I have the opportunity, I urge my colleagues to leave the offices and armchairs and go to listen to the people directly. The discussions with people are more effective than any informative note or document. At the same time, we had the opportunity to unite the activity of the Government with the expectations of the citizens, and this is very important.
What reforms do you think the Government needs to focus on?
One. I remain firm in positions and I think that education is the mother of all success, but also of falling when it is neglected. If we really want to modernize the state and the economy, we must, first of all, modernize the educational system. In order to better understand the importance of reforming education, I will give as an example the proverb: “Who teaches go forward, who does not teach, give back.”
Two. Infrastructure is the locomotor system of an economy, it moves the economy forward. That is why I believe that the reconstruction, modernization and launch of new infrastructure projects – road, energy, communications – must be a priority for all the governments that will come.
Three. As I said earlier in this interview, bureaucracy can destroy many good initiatives. Therefore, the reform of public administration, the efficiency of its work, must remain on the agenda of the Government.
How do you think will be the year 2019 for the Republic of Moldova?
I think it will be a good year. And I can argue why it will be so. No matter what government will be installed after the election, the economic year 2019 is destined to be a good one. The economic bases have already been established by the current Government, the main projects are budgeted: Good Roads, Agriculture subsidies, First Home, funding for the regional development, ambulance procurement, tax reform, wage reform and pension reform. Business has the predictability of economic developments. Recently, I was talking with a counsellor who asked me a question, and he also replied, “Do you know what is the biggest achievement of the Philip Government besides overcoming the economic crisis, stabilizing the banking sector and the economy? It is that, in 2018, the government gave the start of a new economic growth cycle. “
And here I complete that we started the engines and this will allow us to move forward. There must be something exceptional internally or externally that things should change radically and suddenly, and the direction be reversed from ascending to falling.
What plans do you have for the future?
My main professional plan is to continue to contribute to the implementation of the projects that I have initiated with my team, no matter what function I will have.
Political Almanac 2018
Trainee translator: Mihaela Grosu