October 9, 2017 / 12:15 PM / 9 days ago

Moldova PM confident of securing EU funding in 2018

Moldovan Prime Minister Pavel Filip addresses the 72nd United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York, U.S., September 22, 2017. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

CHISINAU (Reuters) - Moldova’s Prime Minister Pavel Filip said on Monday he was confident of meeting all the conditions to get funding next year under a 100-million-euro ($117-million) agreement with the European Union.

A reduction in red tape and better fiscal governance had already improved public finances, allowing it to get by without the EU cash this year, he told Reuters.

The European Union agreed in June to provide 60 million euros in loans and 40 million euros of grants in 2017-18 to help the former Soviet republic to stabilize its economy and promote reform.

One condition for receiving it was respect for democratic process and the rule of law, the EU added.

Moldova this year introduced a new electoral law that the Venice Commission, a pan-European rights body, said could make the system more susceptible to undue influence by vested interests.

Last week Filip said Moldova would receive no tranches this year, but he was more upbeat on 2018 in emailed comments to Reuters on Monday.

“The EU has a serious partner in Chisinau and we are eager for EU financing in 2018 - we are confident all conditions will be met,” he said.

“What is important for us and our citizens is predictability, including on the EU flank. It’s important not to see the MFA (macro-financial assistance) captive to political bickering at home or abroad.”

Moldova’s economy grew 4.1 percent last year, recovering from a contraction of 0.4 percent in 2015 that was due in part to a Russian economic crisis that hit exports and remittances from Moldovans working there.

Moldova is hopeful that funding will be available next year, “while in the meantime, we signaled the obvious: that Moldova is in better shape and can settle its accounts for this year,” Filip said.

Europe’s poorest country was rocked by a scandal in which the equivalent of an eighth of its gross domestic product was stolen from three of its largest banks between 2012 and 2014.

The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund have forecast Moldova will grow 4-4.5 percent this year.

Writing by Alessandra Prentice; Editing by Matthias Williams and David Goodman

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