Viorel Furdui, the Executive Director of the Congress of Local Authorities of Moldova (CALM), reveals that 52% of Moldova’s localities have fewer than 1500 inhabitants. Despite this, Furdui expresses skepticism about using rural depopulation as the main argument for the voluntary amalgamation process. He argues that the current socio-political situation in the country is not conducive to the amalgamation process, as reported by IPN.
According to legislation, if two or more localities in Moldova decide to merge, the government supports the process by allocating funds for infrastructure development and supporting the budgets of the amalgamated localities for seven years.
“Everything is in place, but it is uncertain whether amalgamation will occur. The intentions of several government representatives are to implement this mechanism because there is already a legal basis, regulations exist, and there is a funding mechanism. The idea is to pilot it to see how this instrument works. I don’t know if the social, political, and economic context is appropriate. Policies in education and social assistance show trends of centralization rather than decentralization. The latest data show that 52% of municipalities have a population of fewer than 1500 inhabitants. However, population numbers cannot be the primary argument,” stated Viorel Furdui during the “Reflection Points” program on Vocea Basarabiei.
In 2024, under the European Village Program, localities with up to 1500 inhabitants can benefit from resources up to one million lei without any contribution.
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On the other hand, localities with a population exceeding 1500 inhabitants can access resources up to three million lei without a contribution or up to ten million lei with a minimum 15% contribution from the locality. Viorel Furdui, CALM’s director, believes that by introducing this cap, the state discourages the development of small localities.
“You know that the European Village Fund is closed for localities with fewer than 1500 inhabitants for projects of 3-10 million? The limit has been set at one million. Municipalities with up to 1500 inhabitants can only apply for projects up to one million lei. One million is almost nothing. Do you see the cost of construction materials now? It’s not just the state authorities going this way; development partners also impose restrictions. You can apply for donor-funded projects if localities are amalgamated or if they enter cooperation agreements between two or three localities and apply for projects together,” added Viorel Furdui, CALM’s Executive Director.
In the State Budget Law for 2024, authorities have allocated 150 million lei for the process of amalgamating localities.