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The principal achievements of the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection in 2023 were presented at a press conference

The principal achievements of the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection in 2023 were presented at a press conference

Minister of Labour and Social Protection Alexei Buzu presented today at a press conference the results of the Ministry’s work in 2023 and plans for the coming year.  Among the most important achievements of the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection in 2023 are:

Employment growth

At the end of 2022, the employment rate in the Republic of Moldova was about 40%, the lowest in the region. By comparison, Romania had an employment rate of around 65%, and Macedonia – 45%. In order to improve this indicator, the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection has initiated several measures to increase the employment rate among employable people and to provide support and opportunities for employment to job seekers.

The reform of the National Employment Agency (ANOFM) launched by the Ministry in 2023 focused on giving people employment status by adjusting internal procedures, measuring the impact of employment measures, strengthening the institution’s capacities and its technical and material base.

Thus, during 2023, with the support of ANOFM, about 10,800 job seekers were employed, of which 8,477 had unemployed status. Out of the total number of employed persons, 3 784 are women, 1 507 – persons aged 55-65, 260 – persons with disabilities, 3 110 – young people aged 16-35, 221 – citizens of the Republic of Moldova who returned from abroad.

Also, in order to inform and register inactive people on the labour market, mobile teams of ANOFM specialists have been set up to travel to remote localities in the republic’s districts. Currently 15 mobile teams are active.

“Thanks to our interventions this year, compared to 2022, there has been an increase in employment of almost 20%,” stressed Minister Alexei Buzu.

Increasing the minimum wage in the country

From 2023, the Government has unified the minimum wage, meaning it will be apply in the same amount to both the budgetary and private sectors. From 1 January 2023, the national minimum wage has been increased by 12.5% to 4000 lei. Following consultations and negotiations with the social partners, in 2024 the minimum wage will be raised again to 5000 lei, a 25% increase compared to 2023.

“Our estimates show that this increase in the minimum wage will contribute to increasing the income of around 248 thousand employees in the Republic of Moldova working in both the budgetary and private sectors,” said Minister Alexei Buzu.

Combating undeclared work

“Another important issue that concerns us is informal work. In addition to having a relatively small number of citizens in the labour market, about 22% of them work informally, either without a work contract or with part of their salary paid in an envelope. These people are not adequately protected in terms of respect for their labour and social rights and at the same time do not contribute fully to the state social security budget,” said the Minister.

The most far-reaching initiative to combat undeclared work concerns the reform of the State Labour Inspectorate, launched in 2023. Thanks to the introduction of several new processes, risk assessment criteria on undeclared work, compared to 2022, when the institution detected 82 cases of undeclared work, in 2023, in just a month and a half after the launch of the ‘Moldova on White’ undeclared work monitoring campaign, 200 employees were found working without a contract. 65% of the people working without a work contract have already been helped to formalise their work.

Financial support for vulnerable people

For the second year in a row, the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection is implementing the “Help at the meter” programme, which is one of the largest governmental programmes through which the state provides financial support during the cold season to Moldovan households, compensating part of the expenses for energy resources.

Since 1 November, when registration in the information system was launched, 776 404 households have registered in the system so far. According to Minister Alexei Buzu, 91% of the households benefiting from compensation in their bills will pay the same final price as last year.

The monetary payment paid during the cold period of the year was also increased from 700 to 800 lei and the number of beneficiaries was increased to 260 thousand families. The application procedure has also been simplified by introducing this benefit into the “Energy Vulnerability” information system.

During 2023, 33 thousand monthly payments were made to vulnerable families, of which more than 35% went to families with at least one elderly person, about 45% to families with at least one child, and more than 73% of the payments went to rural areas. The average social assistance benefit was about 1800 lei.

In addition, 34,187 children from 14,176 families, including 436 refugee children from Ukraine, received cash assistance of up to 4000 lei, thanks to a partnership with the United Nations Children’s Fund.

Similarly, in spring this year, more than 56 thousand families received a one-off payment of 4900 lei and 17 thousand families received a one-off material aid of 1000 lei. Also this year, the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection will continue to support the vulnerable population in Moldova through the cash assistance programme, implemented with the financial support of the United Nations World Food Programme, the United Nations Population Fund and the International Organization for Migration.

Thus, 67 711 citizens from four vulnerable categories will benefit from a one-off payment of 3000 or 5000 lei, depending on the category, during the months of December 2023-February 2024, the total budget for these support measures being 226 million lei. The categories targeted include: retired with a pension of less than 3 000 lei, who were born before 1945 – 56 236 persons; families with severely disabled children – 3 019 families; families with severely disabled people – 7 195 families; families with breastfeeding women with at least one child aged 0-13 months – 1 261 families.

Another support measure concerns the increase of monthly state allowances by 250 lei for about 36 967 people, including war veterans, participants in the mitigation of the consequences of the Chernobyl accident, rehabilitated victims of political repression and their family members, starting from 1 April 2023.

This year, the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection has again put a strong focus on supporting families with children. The results of the joint efforts of the Government and the Parliament of the Republic of Moldova on this dimension were presented at the press conference by Marina Morozova, Member of the Parliament of the Republic of Moldova.

For the first time, there is a considerable increase in the single childbirth allowance, which will be 20,000 lei as of 1 January 2024, which is almost double the current amount of 10,932 lei. We estimate that next year more than 33 000 families will receive this benefit.

In addition, thanks to the Government, every family with a child under 2 years of age receives a monthly allowance of 1000 lei until the child is 2 years old. This payment is in addition to the monthly child-raising allowance, which is based on the income of the insured parents.

At the same time, parents will not have to submit applications or other documents for these payments. They will be determined automatically by the National Social Insurance House, and from 2024, virtually all the bureaucratic barriers  around benefits for families with children and severely disabled children will be eliminated.

Marina Morozova, deputy: “Time should be used and given to children, we don’t have to stand in lines to apply for benefits and it is gratifying that we are removing all impediments to receive these benefits.”

Also, for the first time, from January 2024, insured parents who adopt children will also benefit from three new benefits: the single allowance for the period of custody of the adoptable child, the single allowance for the adopted child and the allowance for the upbringing of the adopted child over 3 years of age.

Marina Morozova, Parliament of the Republic of Moldova: “We support parents who adopt children, because they also contribute and have the same rights as other parents.”

In addition to all these measures to support children, substantial investments have been made in childcare services. This year, 23 nursery groups have been created and 32 others have been renovated, and some 50 kindergartens have been renovated through the European Village programme.

At the same time, investments for next year have been doubled, with 20 million lei allocated from the National Fund for Regional and Local Development to expand crèche services.

Marina Morozova, Member of the Parliament of the Republic of Moldova: “All these measures are to support families with children, to support parents to return to work more easily and to harmoniously accord family and professional life. The work of the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection team is an investment in our children and I congratulate them for all the results so far. We will continue to work together to ensure that every family in Moldova feels protected.”

Significant investments have also been made in 2023 to help families with severely disabled children by hiring an additional 900 personal assistants.

Improving the quality of and access to social assistance services

At the end of March, the “Restart” reform of the social assistance system was launched, which provides for major changes in the way the social assistance system is administered at national level to improve its transparency and governance and to ensure uniform access to quality social services for citizens. A first step in the implementation of the reform has been the amendment of 19 normative acts, which will ensure that the right to social protection and social assistance of the vulnerable population is respected, in line with international standards in this field. The creation and organisation of 10 territorial social assistance agencies was also regulated.

Another firm commitment of the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection is to prevent and combat domestic violence and violence against women. Since 2023, the first regional integrated service for victims of sexual violence is being piloted in the Republic of Moldova, which ensures that adult victims of sexual violence receive medical, legal, psychological and social assistance in one location and also facilitates the process of acquiring relevant, conclusive and useful evidence in the criminal process, including conducting the hearing of victims in safe conditions.

In May 2023, the National Programme on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence for 2023-2027 was adopted, focusing on the four pillars of the Istanbul Convention: prevention, protection, punishment and integrated policies. In the same context, the National Agency for the Prevention and Combating of Violence against Women and Domestic Violence was created.

“Starting from 2024, the agency dedicated to the objective of preventing and combating gender-based violence will operate in the Republic of Moldova at the national level, and specialists with responsibilities in this field will be employed at the regional and local levels. Also starting next year, we will have an investment plan to expand support services for all people affected by gender-based violence throughout the country and for the first time, we will think more rigorously about prevention,” said Minister Alexei Buzu.

Launching new initiatives for the elderly

The Ministry of Labour and Social Protection, in partnership with the Ministry of Education and Research, the UN Population Fund and the State University, has launched the first-ever University for the Third Age in 2023 – a pilot programme that aims to promote the concept of lifelong learning and encourage older people to age actively and healthily.

The university has enrolled 40 students aged over 60 in the free courses ‘Developing digital skills’ and ‘Wellbeing and intergenerational communication’.

“We aim to expand this programme in 2024. We are still receiving requests from older people to benefit from these courses. Seniors have proven to be the most disciplined in attending classes, and the University enjoys such a contingent of students. This year, we have also initiated another programme dedicated to the elderly, which we will continue next year and which provides for the development of digital skills for at least 1,000 seniors,” said Minister Alexei Buzu.

Contribution to the implementation of the European integration agenda

In the field of European integration, the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection has contributed to the fulfilment of the conditions specified in the European Commission’s Opinion on the Republic of Moldova’s application for membership of the European Union, issued on 17 June 2022. According to the Enlargement Package for 2023, adopted by the European Commission on 8 November this year, the Republic of Moldova has made significant progress on the nine conditionalities, with the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection being responsible for two of them, which relate to labour and social protection.

In the context of accelerating foreign policy efforts, the Minister also referred to the social security agreements concluded with other states.

“At the moment we have Social Security Agreements with 17 countries. In 2024, we aim to conclude a Social Protection Agreement with Switzerland, Canada, to advance our discussions with France and to start negotiations with other European Union countries,” said the Minister.

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