Parliament Activity Review 4-8 March, 2002
March 11, 2002
In this time period the Parliament took a stance on the latest events related to the political crisis the society is undergoing. Thus, during its March 7 session at issues was the reformation of the "Teleradio-Moldova" State Company.
Legislative acts adopted in the final reading
I. Parliament Resolution on establishing a Special Commission to elaborate the concept of "Teleradio-Moldova" State Company reformation.
ADEPT comment: It was stated during the debates of the draft resolution that it had nothing to do with the strike of the Company employees. Considering that during a live show on March 4, the President pointed the need to reform "Teleradio-Moldova" State Company and promised that this would happen as soon as possible and that his promise was immediately followed by the Parliament initiative, one could conclude that Presidency and Parliament synchronized their actions. Commission membership is as follows:
Chairman: Vladimir DRAGOMIR - Chair of the Parliament Commission for Culture, Science, Education, Youth and Mass Media.
Secretary: Vitalie TABUNSCIC - Consultant for the above Commission
- Ion BERLINSCHII - Director of the Tineretul Moldovei newspaper;
- Anatol DUBROVSCHI - Councilor on culture at the Presidency of the Republic of Moldova;
- Ion GONTA - Editor-in-chief Moldova Suverana governmental newspaper;
- Boris MARIAN - Director of Moldpres Press Agency, former Editor of Moldova Suverana;
- Ion MIHAILO - Chairman of the Audiovisual Coordinating Council, former Director of the Mir Company office in the Republic of Moldova;
- Valeriu SAHARNEANU - Chairman of the Journalist Union of the Republic of Moldova;
- Ilie TELESCO - Program Director at the National Radio.
Within two months the Commission has to study the international practice in the field of audiovisual and submit to Parliament a draft Concept on reforming the "Teleradio-Moldova" State Company. The Commission shall design a favorable environment for the public TV, which would meet the interests of all Republic of Moldova citizens, all social strata, as well as observe and promote the principles of publicity, objectivity and pluralism.
Note: Noteworthy, although the issue was raised by the Company employees, none of them was included in the Special Commission. One may conclude that it would be the representatives of state bodies and press (some of the Commission members previously worked or continue to work in this field) who will decide on the reformation of the "Teleradio-Moldova" State Company.
The Parliament previously examined this issue and several draft laws were developed in this respect, one of them was rejected by the XIV legislature Parliament, another one by the incumbent Parliament during its 2001 spring session.
II. The Parliament rejected the Law on modification and completion of the Law on Audiovisual that it adopted on November 2, 2001.
ADEPT comment: The modifications and completions envisage two new types of licensees, i.e. for relaying and for access. Under the modifications, domestic and foreign companies relaying TV and Radio programs in Moldova would have to get a license and pay a set fee.
President of the Republic of Moldova refused to promulgate the above law, on the grounds that relay may not be legally regulated. According to the President the definition of broadcasting license - permission given by entitled bodies legalizing the right to broadcast audiovisual programs, encompasses the other two definitions as well.
Another argument of the President refers to the danger of decomposing mixed and domestic radio-visual institutions into relaying institutions unable to produce their own programs. The enforcement of the law may also have repercussions on domestic audiovisual institutions, which already have long term agreements with their foreign partners.
After considering the arguments brought by the President, the Parliament agreed with his objections and rejected the draft, especially as the entire Law on Audiovisual needs revising. The provisions of the Law on Audiovisual will continue to regulate the field.
III. Parliament Resolution on conducting parliamentary hearings on the water resources of the Republic of Moldova
ADEPT comment: The Parliament supported the initiative of Parliament Commission on Agriculture and Processing Industry to organize hearings on the said issue on April 15-16, 2002. In this respect, the membership of the Organizational Committee was approved as well as the draft agenda of the hearings.
Legislative acts adopted in the first (not final) reading
I. Draft law on financial-economic recovery of the "Fabrica de vin Cojusna" winery.
ADEPT comment: Under the draft law Creditors' Council is obliged to conclude a Memorandum with the winery on freezing its 12 million MDL debt (taxes and internal loans). Also the draft provides for canceling the winery's 6 million MDL debt to the state budget, as well as penalties due to the state social security fund.
The Government explained the need of passing the law with the disastrous financial situation of the winery, generated by the 1998 financial crisis when the sales decreased by 10%. Although modernized thanks to loans from foreign financial institutions, the winery has stopped the production.
Despite the poor economic performance, under the draft law 90% of the stock will still be in the state property.
II. Draft law on modification and completion of the Law on Petrol Products Market.
ADEPT comment: The Parliament is simultaneously examining two draft laws, each of them having different goals:
1. The first draft submitted by Braghis Alliance envisages a new system of tracing petrol product imports, by using registered markers in the automated state register. The register is to be used at the customs based on a procedure established by the Government.
This would be another control mechanism in tracing petrol imports, aimed at decreasing smuggling.
2. The second one, submitted by the Communist majority, eliminates several modifications operated earlier on. Under those provisions petrol importers had to hold securities stocks and pay a tax for the upkeep of the National Agency for Energy Regulation. In addition the draft eliminates the interdiction under which only the importers are allowed to wholesale trade of petrol products.
The ground for such modification was to bring the law in accordance with other normative acts and abolish additional taxes importers had to pay to National Agency.
The examination and adoption of the Law on Petrol Products was tiresome, which is an indicator that at stake are high interests of companies operating illegally on the market and which wouldn't give up too easy. The adoption of the law at the end of 2001 was regarded as one of the greatest achievements of the incumbent government as it was seen as an obstacle too smuggling and evasion from tax payment. It is known for a fact that the great majority of companies involved in petrol business are not paying taxes, fact proven by concluding figures.
Furthermore, the President of the Republic of Moldova, Prime Minister as well as other important actors pointed that the adoption of the Law on Petrol Products contributed to a decrease in smuggling and increase in the levied taxes. Protest rallies held by the auto importers of petrol generated a lot of debates. Government accused the protestors of illegal actions and desire to have undeclared profits (as was the situation before the adoption of the law).
Now the Communist majority in Parliament, accused several times of suppressing economic liberalism, interference in the market economy, centralization and monopolization of economy, is trying to take a totally different approach. It intends to exclude provisions favoring the state interests and bring back to market companies, which it previously blamed of smuggling and illegal business.
It seems that recent protest rallies are not the only cause of such a major transformation, rather some "strategic" long-term interests are at stake, namely big monopolists will face a more tough environment, they would have to fight dumping prices and smuggle of the small petrol importers and traders. It is a quite interesting strategy, though hopefully something would come up and impede its implementation.
III. Draft law on completing the Customs Code.
ADEPT comment: The draft vests the Government with the right to establish the term for temporary use of the equipment for the production of goods for export, which is brought into the country for a period of more than three years. Thus the draft supports domestic producers who cannot purchase efficient equipment, but could contract it for a temporary use in the country. In such a manner production will increase and quality goods will be exported from Moldova.
IV. Draft law on canceling the historic debts of the Carabinier Department to the state budge.
ADEPT comment: Under the draft, Carabineer Department of the Ministry of Interior will be exempted from paying the balance due to the VAT tax worth 500,000 MDL. The VAT tax is to be paid for the profit received by the Department for the guard services provided to the farmers in 1999-2000.