Parliament Activity Review 18-22 March, 2002
March 25, 2002
On March 20, one year passed since the first session of the XV legislature Parliament and of the Communist governing. Immediately after the parliamentary elections, at the time he was elected the President of the Republic of Moldova, the Communist Party leader stated that he would be open to cooperation with all political and social players of the country, and would be the President of "all the people", not merely of his voters. One year later, the President of the Republic of Moldova launched the idea of a Social Pact.
President's meetings with the representatives of the civil society overshadowed Parliament's activity. During the week the Parliament continued to examine important normative acts, which we shall consider bellow.
Legislative acts adopted in the final reading
I. Law on modification and completion of the Law on Petroleum Market
ADEPT comment: We have previously presented the law. As predicted, significant changes have occured:
- On the one hand, representatives of the "Braghis Alliance" faction, known for their open support to economy liberalization and state's non-interference in economy, proffered a draft law setting additional regulations and restrictions for entrepreneurs active on the petroleum market;
- On the other, representatives of the majority faction, always blamed for abusive administrative control over economy, proffered another draft law excluding the restriction on binding security stocks and on importers' exclusive right to petroleum en gross sale.
Experts claim that Communists operated the amendments so as to keep the promise made to the petroleum importers and traders, who at the end of 2001 staged protest rallies against the adoption and enforcement of the law by the Government. At that time authorities accused the traders and importers of smuggling.
At the same time, big petroleum importers and traders might be dissatisfied with the operated amendments, as they were the ones who lobbied the law in the first place so as to secure protection against unloyal competition.
In the end the President will be the one to promulgate the law and thus endorse the majority faction, or not and send it for re-examination of the Parliament and thus endorse the existence of petroleum security stocks.
II. The Law on Ratification of the European Convention on suppression of authentication of legal acts issued by the diplomatic or consular institutions
ADEPT comment: Current integration processes, when the great majority of Europeans freely travel from one country to another based on the original acts issued by the national diplomatic and consular institutions, dictated the need to ratify the convention.
Also, the migration processes have been taken into account. For instance, besides the necessary official acts of the Republic of Moldova, legal (and illegal) immigrants from the Republic of Moldova also had to authenticate the documents required by the relevant legislation in their country of destination. Those procedures are not only expensive but also complicated and exhausting that is why Council of Europe Member States decided to simplify them.
The relevant Convention stipulates the obligation of member states to exempt from authentication the acts issued by diplomatic or consular institutions of the contracting state. Especially the Convention applies to official certificates containing references to the registration of a document or event on a certain date.
Noteworthy the Convention includes an interesting provision from the international law perspective, as it sets its supremacy over the provisions of any treaty, conventions or agreements regulating or which would regulate the authentication of a diplomat or consul signature, document signer function, and authenticated seal or stamp.
III. Law on the Ratification of the Agreement on the establishment of International Winery Organization (IWO)
ADEPT comment: The ratification was determined by the fact that since 1994 Moldova has been a member of the International Winery Office established in 1924 and active until 2001.
On April 3, 2001 General Assembly of the above Office adopted an Agreement on the establishment of the International Winery Organization. To confirm their membership and to adhere to the Agreement, each country has to ratify it.
Upon the examination of the law in Parliament, debates focussed not on the content of the agreement or mandate of the organization, but rather on who should pay the membership fees. As it was pointed during the Parliament session, membership fee would be paid out of the funds allotted for the winery industry support. It is not clear yet who would transfer money to the fund - the state or the entrepreneurs active in the field.
IV. Law on the Modification of the Law on Entrepreneur License
ADEPT comment: The modification completes the list of activities to be conducted based on a license with the following: general retail shop, bakery, bottled water, domestic products, and books retail shop, etc.
The respective law exempts beneficiaries from the obligation to purchase cash registers, to register as entrepreneur, and to pay taxes and fees. They would have to pay just the license fee.
Legislative acts adopted in the first (not final) reading
I. Law on completion of legal acts pertaining to direct taxation and customs fee payment
ADEPT comment: The law exempts the goods imported in the Republic of Moldova from the VAT tax and from the fee on the services of pre-dispatch inspection.
By adopting the law, the Government and Parliament intend to solve the problem of pre-dispatch inspection of goods imported in the Republic of Moldova, which triggered protests among the business community. As pre-dispatch inspection was one of the conditions imposed by international institutions, the Government cannot immediately annul the contract with SGS. On the other hand the business community claims that the inspection greatly affects the current economic situation and that no foreign credits or aid would improve it.
In an attempt to avoid the extremes the Government is looking for other solutions and sets forth a new draft law decreasing the final cost of the SGS services.
It remains to be seen what would be the reaction of the business community, which followed the example of the protest rallies on the National Assembly Square and set an ultimatum - annulment of the contract with SGS, otherwise the confrontations between authorities and business will continue.
II. Law on modification of the Penal Code and of the Code of Administrative Offence
ADEPT comment: The law provides administrative and penal liability for the deliberate delay (one or two months) in paying the salaries, pensions, scholarships, indemnities and other permanent payments. Subject to the law may be high-rank officials who deliberately do not pay the salaries or use the salary funds for other purposes.
Despite the skepticism of several deputies with regard to the new regulations, because there are no efficient mechanisms of punishment, parliament majority decided to operate the amendments. Noteworthy, the amendments were operated at the time of protest rallies organized by the trade unions. Trade unions set forth an ultimatum on the payment of arrears to the salaries and doubling the current salaries.