Igor Stropsa, 30, works as a builder. He is pleased with his job; working eight hours a day and receiving a steady income. But he had to leave his country to find this job. He has worked in Rome, Italy since 2008.
Thousands of Moldovans are forced to leave the country to find work, due to lack of jobs and low earnings. After graduation, many students choose to leave the Republic of Moldova behind and go to work for well paying companies in other countries.
Being described by the international community as the ‘poorest country of Europe’, the Republic of Moldova has the lowest salaries on the continent, which can barely cover the basic daily needs. The salaries vary from tens of dollars to a couple hundred of dollars a month. A nurse would normally earn up to $170 a month if she has previous experience, while a recent graduate in social studies earns $70 a month. The lack of experience of the new alumni negatively hurts their employment chances, because most employers want specialists with at least 2-3 years of previous experience. As a result, the Moldovan universities prepare jobless citizens on a broad scale which have low chance to find a job upon graduation.
The dissolution of the Soviet Union has had a strong impact on the Moldovan economy. Being eager to establish a democracy ruled by its own nation, the new government, which was installed after 1991 wasn’t able to efficiently manage the state’s budget, struggling with deep poverty among the people living in the countryside. Inefficient task and resource management led to the current economic deadlock. The Value Added Tax in Moldova is 20%. The high contribution to the state budget frustrates the Moldovans because they don’t receive much in return.
Ion Cecan, 75, has been retired for several years now and is totally dissatisfied by the government. His monthly allowance does not exceed $70 after working for 40 years as a driver in the Soviet times and thereafter. At his age, he works as a security guard at a parking lot on a night shift. “I can barely pay my bills; I have to turn off the light to save money,” says Cecan who lives in Moldova’s capital, Chisinau.
“I have applied for the Romanian citizenship to be able to travel to Italy to take care of my grandchildren,” explains Popa. This will be Popa’s first trip outside of Moldova.
“My son and daughter live and work abroad. My daughter has been living in Verona, Italy for six years already. She comes home once a year,” says Popa. She states that she has never visited her children because she doesn’t hold a visa or a Romanian passport.
“My daughter’s paycheck in Italy is about 900 Euro ($1,215),” adds the 60 years old woman, who complains that her retirement pension is equal only to 550 Moldovan Lei ($46). “I could barely afford a trip to this city to apply for the Romanian citizenship,” says Tamara Popa.
There are 154,000 Moldovans who live and work legally in Italy, although the Moldovan Embassy in Rome estimates that there are another 50,000 Moldovan citizens living in Italy who are not registered with the local authorities.
“For a salary of 1,000 Lei a month ($84) I’m not going to return to Moldova,” says Iurie Doljencov, 27, who works in Torino, Italy.
Massive numbers of Moldovans apply for Romanian citizenship, which enables them permission to travel and work without visas within the EU. According to the National Authority for Citizenship, directed by the Romanian Ministry of Justice, more than 51,500 requests were made by Moldovan citizens from the beginning of the year until now; over 47,000 were approved from the applications sent during 2010.
The National Employment Agency in Moldova states in a report that during the past years, there can be observed a regression in the number of inhabitants residing and working in Moldova, especially of those able to work. According to the report, the people who are affected by unemployment include the disabled, the youth and especially those living in the countryside.
According to the National Bureau of Statistics, the unemployment rate for the first two quarters has showed that 7.8% of the people were jobless, compared with 4.77% of their neighbors in Romania, according to the data provided by the Ministry of Labor, Family and Social Protection.
In order to escape the tough economy, many Moldovans are forced to leave their children behind and find a job in other countries. Russia, Italy, Portugal, Spain and Turkey are among the most preferred working environments for the Moldovans.
According to the official data provided by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration, more than 332,000 Moldovans reside legally in countries other than Moldova, while the real number, which includes those working illegally, may exceed a half million.
Written by Valeriu Gonta