I landed in Chisinau on a short flight from Frankfurt a mere two years ago. I immediately liked this vibrant and cosmopolitan city built with white limestone and awash with greenery, and remember thinking that it has the potential to attract scores of tourists. But tickets to fly into Chisinau were expensive in 2011.
I also recall so vividly my first trip through the Moldovan countryside shortly after. An amalgam of bright green leaves on walnut trees contrasted the yellow of the sunflowers that grow in fields with some of the most fertile soil in the world. I was immediately struck by the immense potential that Moldova holds in agriculture.
Good things have happened since then.
Three weeks from now, one of Europe’s largest low-cost airlines will link Moldova with Italy, thus enhancing prospects for increased tourism and business activity. And the World Bank Group is also helping Moldovan farmers to export their excellent wine and other agriculture products to consumers around the world.
Attracting low-cost flights and boosting agriculture competitiveness are only a few of Moldova’s reform areas in recent years. The country has taken bold steps to improve macroeconomic management, modernize its social protection system, to use information and communications technology (ICT) to deliver public services better, to improve its education system and build a more competitive business environment that will help boost domestic and foreign investments. What anchors this effort is the government’s commitment to capitalize on openness and deeper regional and global integration.
Moldova has the potential to bridge the income and development gaps with its European neighbors -- but several challenges remain.
The new strategy for 2014-2017 that the World Bank Group Board of Executive Directors discussed on Sept. 5, 2013, focuses on addressing key obstacles that hinder the country’s development potential and growth perspectives. The strategy recognizes that poor governance and weak public sector capacity continue to be challenges, along with the outdated delivery of health and education services and vulnerabilities associated with climate change and high energy inefficiency.
What will the World Bank Group do about these challenges?
We will work to improve the competitiveness of Moldova’s economy and agriculture, provide support to critical reforms in education, health and social protection to improve quality and efficiency, and help Moldova become more energy efficient and more resilient to climate change. If Moldova is successful in addressing these challenges and improving governance across sectors, only the sky is the limit!