CHISINAU, September 12. /TASS/. Moldova is facing a tough winter, with an economy in tatters and energy prices out of hand, Igor Dodon, a former president of the country, told TASS.
"We're in for a tough winter with astronomical energy prices, a collapsing economy, failing social policies, and the government of [President Maia] Sandu and her party that have no idea what to do about it all," he said in an interview.
Last week, the Moldovan government approved a plan to prevent a crisis in the energy sector in the event that gas supplies from Russia are scaled back or halted. It stipulates three scenarios: supplies declining by 35% or 50% or shutting down completely. The plan calls for a reduction of gas consumption by 15%, purchases of more fuel oil and coal, and stocking up on firewood. Government officials, schools and higher educational institutions would start to work remotely. The government also hopes that the EU and the US would provide financial assistance for the purchase of gas from alternative suppliers in the market.
The plan has been subjected to criticism by environmentalists over fears of decimating the country's already sparse forests. Dodon, the head of the Gagauz region Irina Vlah, and some other politicians called on the Moldovan leadership to hold talks with Moscow about gas supplies.
In October last year, Moldovagaz and Gazprom extended their contract for the supply of the fuel for five years. One of the main conditions of the contract was the repayment of the debt and timely current payments. However, due to a sharp increase of market prices for natural gas and caps on prices for households in Moldova, Moldovagaz delayed payments to Gazprom several times and received warnings. That prompted the government to intervene and even declare a state of emergency.