PRO HUMANITATE REPRESENTATIVES ACCUSE MOLDOVAN CUSTOMS OF THEIR PREVENTING HUMANITARIAN ASSISTANCE IMPORTATION09.08.2012
Representatives of the United Medical Force Pro Humanitate society of Germany have stood up with accusations against Moldovan customs authorities, who hindered illicitly the importation of humanitarian assistance to Moldova and did not obey to the country’s higher power organs.
The Chairman of the organization’s managerial board, Dirk Hartig, stated at a news conference at Infotag on Thursday that in May 2012 a truck arrived at the Sculeni customs house [on the border with Romania], carrying construction materials intended for repair or a kindergarten in the Moldovan village of Parjolteni. That truck brought also a consignment of detergents.
“Though we had already brought detergents into Moldova, that time the customs authorities prohibited to let them into the republic, saying that a license was necessary for that. Taking into account that these hygienic means were imported by us as humanitarian assistance, that we are not commercial entrepreneurs and that an appropriate agreement was signed between us and the Moldovan Government, we did not need to have a license. To clarify the situation, I addressed to higher state instances. Deputy Speaker of the Moldovan Parliament Liliana Palihovici sent an inquiry to the Ministry of Finance, whose answer said clearly that if this is humanitarian assistance and there is no commercial interest, then no permissive documents are required. But the situation reached a deadlock when the customs house director, Iurie Bostan, stated that the ministry’s answer is not the kind of document which he must take into account”, said Dirk Hartig.
In his opinion, such attitude and behavior of customs managers speak of much.
“In such situation, I would like to ask only one question: who is the master here – the Government or a customs house? If a customs house refuses to obey to the MoF, then this is anarchy. But a thing more dangerous is that the Customs appear to be not accountable to the country’s central authorities. Moreover, such attitude and the situation that has developed around the humanitarian consignment is delivering a painful blow on Moldova’s international image”, believes Hartig, who drew attention to the fact that on the one hand, Moldova declares its openness to foreign investments and humanitarian assistance, but on the other hand there exist obstacles to all this.
The foreign guest offered an opinion that may be the Sculeni customs officers wanted to receive “some financial dividends. But we have never paid bribes to anybody, and we see no reason why we should change our practice”.
Dirk Hartig said that after the interference of then-Customs Service Director General Tudor Balitchi, the importation of the said detergents and construction materials was permitted, and the assistance suppliers even received assurances that such incidents would never occur again.
“To test the firmness of Mr. Balitchi’s word, we deliberately provided our next truck – that delivered to Moldova humanitarian assistance for a kindergarten in the village of Horodiste (construction materials, kitchen furniture) – with a consignment of detergents. And the situation repeated as if in a mirror: the customs officers demanded a license from us”, said the assistance manager.
At the news conference, the reply was read out, received from Lilia Snegureac, Head of the Moldovan Prime Minister’s office, in response to the Pro Humanitate’s address. Snegureac wrote that Prime Minister Vladimir Filat highly values the relations of cooperation between Moldova and Germany and hopes that the question concerned will be solved in strict conformity with the law. The reply contained regret that due to the Prime Minister’s very busy work schedule, Mr. Filat is not able to arrange a personal meeting.
Hartig admitted that, certainly, this situation hits not him or officials in Chisinau but primarily those vulnerable population groups in Moldova who need this humanitarian assistance.
In his words, in 2011 alone the organization delivered humanitarian assistance worth over 1 million euros to this republic. In 2012, due to the obstacles put by the Customs Service, the assistance volume has shrunk substantially. And since the moment of its foundation in 1989, Pro Humanitate has rendered various assistance worth €60 million to Moldova.
Commenting the situation on Infotag’s request, Customs Service’s lawyer Adrian Morarescu stated that in this particular case, the customs officers did not make anything extraordinary – they only followed the legislation in force.
“The thing is, the importation of chemical preparations (with detergents belonging to this group) is subject to licensing as per the Law on Entrepreneurial Activities. We have nothing against the imports of humanitarian assistance to our country. But we must obey to the law, mustn’t we?” asked the lawyer.