In 2022 alone, Moldova received nearly a billion euros in foreign aid, with 80% of this amount comprising loans. While this is attributed to the economic policies of the current leaders, former Prime Minister Ion Chicu argues that, with effective management, Moldova could manage without external injections.
Is this assertion accurate? Examining economic indicators reveals that, in the first 11 months of 2022, Moldova obtained 978.8 million euros in external financial assistance, with loans constituting four-fifths of this sum. The remainder, including significant grants like the 90 million euros from the European Commission, 40 million euros from the German government, 10.40 million euros from the Romanian government, and 9.24 million dollars from the World Bank, was primarily allocated to support the budget.
The substantial inflow of foreign capital into Moldova commenced after the removal of the Democrats from governing the country in the summer of 2019. The Ministry of Finance reports a consistent rise in foreign aid from 2019 to 2022, reaching approximately 3.5 billion euros, with 35.6% in 2021 and 28% in the first 11 months of 2022.
Analysts argue that the increase in external debts is not critical, emphasizing that Moldova's debt levels, both public and external, are comparatively low. Former Prime Minister Ion Kiku contends that Moldova can pursue an alternative development path with minimal foreign investments, citing the country's past when foreign injections were at a lower level, yet living standards were comparable.
Nevertheless, current economic indicators raise concerns. Exports from Moldova decreased by almost 10% ($2.6 billion) from January to August 2023, and forecasts predict modest economic growth of 2% by the end of the year and 4.3% in 2024. To escape the status of the "poorest country in Europe," a sustained growth rate of at least 10% for ten consecutive years is deemed necessary.
The agricultural sector faces challenges, including competition with cheap Ukrainian products, drought, and underdeveloped logistics. Foreign investments could be instrumental, yet Moldova ranks poorly in investment attractiveness, with a decline of 11.6% in investments in fixed assets in 2022.
While Moldova aspires to join the European Union, critics like Ion Kiku argue that this may not swiftly resolve the country's economic challenges. The EU's support is acknowledged, but the timeline for Moldova's accession remains uncertain. Ion Kiku suggests that the EU entry is a lengthy process and doesn't guarantee immediate benefits.
In summary, while Moldova grapples with economic complexities, there is a call for increased EU support, a careful evaluation of debt levels, and strategic initiatives to stimulate economic growth.