Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Joy of Declassification

Since coming to power, the government of Vlad Filat has made a strong commitment to open government.  Cabinet meetings are televised live and every minister has been required to spend a few hours each month hearing petitions from citizens.

Perhaps the most interesting process, however, is the declassification of documents categorised as 'secret' by the previous Communist administration.  The documents being released provide a priceless window of access into Voronin's mind; many of them are quite routine and shouldn't have been secret at all, while others were evidently withheld from public view for very real reasons.

In any case, the documents have provided hours of amusement for journos and bloggers alike.  Today's tasty morsel can be found here.  It's a note written by Communist counsellor Oleg Reidman to then President Voronin on the 4th of July, i.e. before the July 29th election.

In the note, Reidman sets out two forecasts for the Government's budget.  The first forecast is for two months, and shows how, with local borrowing and a ban on capital spending, the Government could have met its obligations through to the end of August.  This presumably was the 'handover of power' scenario which would kick in in the event the Communists lost power on July 29th - keep the wheels on for a couple of months, then hand over to the AIE and hope for the worst.

The second scenario is more long-term (and presumably designed to cover the outcome of a Communist victory on July 29th);   It covers the period up to about the current time (February - March 2010).  It is truly frightening and contains elements that would have revolted the Communist electorate:

  1.  Reduction of public service salaries to 2008 levels (ie minus the increases handed out by the Communists prior to the April 5th election)
  2. The elimination of public sector bonuses
  3. Public servants being forced to take leave without pay
  4. The elimination of 'nominal benefits' paid to invalids, pensioners, children, war veterans etc.
  5. The dismissal of 5,000 teachers
  6. The cessation of preferential lending
  7. The cessation of a first home buyer's programme
  8. Cessation of the indexing of Banca de Economie deposits held during the hyperinflation of the early 1990s.
Even with all of the measures, the budget would have been short to the tune of 2.2bn lei, an amount which Reidman envisaged being provided in large part by the IMF, with whom the Communists had failed to reach an agreement two weeks' earlier.

What makes these revelations really embarrassing for the Communists was their comportment during the election campaigns, when they were giving away pension & salary increases as election bribes and claiming that the economic crisis wouldn't impact on Moldova; when they were scaring voters with stories about how their incomes would be cut if the opposition were to come to power.

As it turns out, the new Filat government was able to negotiate a much more sizeable agreement with the IMF and to secure substantial additional funding from the US, EU and Poland.  These funds enabled the public service to continue functioning without any of the draconian anti-social measures planned by Reidman and communicated to Voronin.

It seems that Moldova's voters made the right choice on July 29th 2009, just in case anyone was still wondering.

No comments:

Post a Comment