I. Draft law on modification and completion of the Ground Code
ADEPT comment: The examination of the draft law was accompanied by hot debated in Parliament, as the parliamentary opposition claims that the amendments mean a forceful return to collective farms, whereas the majority faction insists on the amendments as a measure to stop the agriculture decline and land fund ruining. Even earlier, when the draft was developed representatives of the international funding organizations expressed their concern with regard to the inconsistency of the provisions with the market economy principles and free enterprise. Furthermore, at the end of 2001 IMF released a statement saying that the adoption of the draft may hinder resuming foreign financial assistance to Moldova. Thus, the Government had to negotiate and coordinate with IMF the content of the draft law.
In brief, the amendments refer to:
- State registration of the plots and their ownership;
- Regulation of the status of lands in the religious institutions property;
- Farming lease;
- Procedure of concluding, registering and annulling before the term of the farming lease contract;
- Unification of farming plots in view of joint farming, via exchange or by the authority of the local public administration.
Unification of the plots requires a set of legal and technical measures so as to optimize the size and location of plots. Those were the provisions, which raised the opposition criticism. According to them, the amendments will violate the rights of plot holders and will force them via legal and administrative measures to unify the plots. At the same time, the authors of the draft law claim that the criticism is groundless as the amendments stipulate the right of the plot holder to refuse at any time the unification of plots, even if the unification procedures had already started.
II. Draft law on modification and completion of the Law on Constitutional Court
ADEPT comment: The draft provides a new more efficient mechanism of enforcing Constitutional Court ruling, as well as new provisions on:
- Jurisdiction of the Constitutional Court acts, binding on the entire soil of the country for all the relevant subjects;
- Obligation of the state institutions to execute the Constitutional Court rulings;
- Liability for the failure to execute Constitutional Court acts.
The issue of legal and natural entities' liability for the failure to execute the Constitutional Court rulings was largely debated in Parliament. Though several key factors were not taken into account:
- Liability of the legal entities is not stipulated in the Republic of Moldova law.
- It is unclear how the Parliament, Government or President may be held liable, if they are legal entities bearing exclusively a political responsibility and may neither be held responsible nor obliged to pass an act even for the sake of enforcing a ruling issued by a Constitutional Court.
During the debates, the Deputy Speaker stated that even the Constitutional Court, formed of 6 judges, may be sometimes wrong in its rulings, given the fact that the Parliament, composed of 101 deputies, may be mistaken sometimes, not to speak about 6 people. This statement together with the recommendation to establish a procedure of overcoming the definite, absolute and binding character of the Constitutional Court rulings has already been largely commented on in press. Even the Chair of the Constitutional Court expressed his disapproval and stated that CC ruling should be binding.
Noteworthy, several things happened as a result of the debates:
- A deputy questioned the competence of the 6 judges of the Constitutional Court. The court previously established a penalty for a similar deed to the Chair of the Republic of Moldova Bar Association;
- The same deputy decided firstly to publicly express his opinion and later on order a thorough examination of the possibilities to operate modifications to the legislation. Although entitled to legislative initiative a deputy may proffer a draft law for the revision of the Constitution and of the procedure of overseeing the constitutionality of the legislative acts, only upon the positive notice of the Constitutional Court;
- On the other hand, the Chairman of the Constitutional Court, who might take part in the examination of the draft law on the Constitution revision, already stated that he considers the current mechanism should be preserved. Upon the examination of the draft he would definitely vote against it. The chances of Deputy Speaker are very slim considering that as a rule the Chair of the session (usually the Chair of the Constitutional Court) is entitled to "two votes" upon parity of votes (under Article 66 paragraph (5) of the Code of Constitutional Jurisdiction), despite the fact that the Court has previously ruled that nobody is entitled to 2 votes and even annulled the decisive vote of the Parliament Speaker.
Deputy Speaker's words might have a political connotation as well. The opposition (after receiving positive notice to their appeals on the constitutionality of legislative acts passed by the incumbent governing) stated that the Constitutional Court is "one of the very few institutions which preserved its independence", whereas certain international organizations expressed their "satisfaction with the CC rulings". Under those circumstances the intention to overcome the absolute character of the CC rulings may be interpreted as authorities' attempt to undermine the constitutional jurisdiction.
Further, above mentioned declarations show disrespect to the President's appeal calling all the state institutions and high rank officials to abide the ruling of the Constitutional Court outlawing early local elections.
III. Draft law on the completion of the Fiscal Code
ADEPT comment: The relevant draft introduces new excises for the petroleum derivatives (diesel oil, oils, and kerosene, etc.). According to preliminary estimates, around 130,000 tones of such products are imported every year to the Republic of Moldova, whereas the payment of excises for their import will considerably increase the state budget.
On the other hand, the importers protest against those initiatives on the grounds that Ukraine and Transdnistria have recently lowered the taxes for the import of petroleum and its derivatives, which could lead to an increased smuggling of those products into Moldova.
IV. Draft law on cooperative production society
ADEPT comment: The draft was developed to regulate the activity of the organized forms of productions. According to the draft, the cooperative production society is defined as "company set up by at least 10 natural entities to conduct a joint production activity, based on individual work of its members and joint capital". The draft includes provisions on:
- Principles of the cooperative production societies organization and functioning;
- Cooperative society patrimony, rights and obligation of its members;
- Establishment and registration;
- Capital and participation shares;
- Governing bodies;
- Distribution of the net proceeds, social insurance;
- Bookkeeping, audit and control;
- Reorganization and liquidation;
- Union of cooperative production societies, etc.
V. Law on the recovery measures of the zootechnic companies
ADEPT comment: The draft provides freezing for a five year period the debts of the zootechnic enterprises (failure to pay back credits for the fodder) and sanctions calculated for the failure to make timely payments to the state budget. It also provides exempting the zootechnic enterprises from all the payments to the state budget.
Several deputies pointed that the provisions only recommend local public administration and businessmen to annul and spread out the debts of the said companies and are not binding, therefore they may not be inserted in the law.
VI. The Parliament continued to examine the Civil Code and adopted the Penal Code in the second reading. Also in the first reading were adopted:
- Draft law on the modification and completion of the Law on Juridical Expertise;
- Draft law on the modification of the laws regulating free enterprise zones;
- Draft law on the modification of the Law on the State Budget for 2002.