Parliament Activity Review 8-19 April, 2002
April 22, 2002
Political crisis triggered three months ago is currently entered the long-term negotiation stage and is unfolding not on the Chisinau streets but rather at the Council of Europe, Parliament offices and TV and Radio stations. Leaders of the opposition parliament factions have initiated talks and negotiations with the majority faction, further they have returned to plenary Parliament sessions. Generally speaking, the Parliament activity hasn't been perturbed during this time period, and legislative acts have been examined at a normal pace. Though, it is worth mentioning one of the recent developments - previously the Council of Europe used to ask in vain the Moldovan Parliament to send them the draft laws for expertise, now on the contrary the Parliament decided to submit to Council of Europe a series of legislative acts. It is very unlikely that the Council is interested in all of them as only one draft pertains to the state - opposition conflict, whereas the rest refer to some technical amendments to be operated to the current legislation.
Let's consider several most important legislative acts passed by the Parliament.
Legislative acts adopted in the final reading
I. New Penal Code of the Republic of Moldova
ADEPT comment: As it was previously mentioned the Parliament managed to adopt in a relatively short period of time the second Code on its agenda. Noteworthy, the adoption of a new Penal Code was one of the conditions set forth for the Republic of Moldova adhesion to the Council of Europe. And each and every Council's monitoring report made reference to the delay in passing such a document and the need to reform the prosecution.
The fact that Legal Commission responsible for finalizing draft Codes, has been completed with two more deputies points to the fact that the parliament majority is committed to continue examining Code of Penal and Civil procedures, Code of Administrative Offence, Code of Enforcement, etc.
II. Law on Evaluation of Assets
ADEPT comment: The law provides:
- Definitions used in assets evaluation (evaluator, certificate on qualification, evaluation report, (market, estimated) value, etc.
- Evaluation types and methods;
- Evaluation of estate in view of taxation;
- Conditions for evaluation activity;
- Local government competencies with regard to evaluation;
- Evaluator's rights and obligations.
III. Law on Settling the Debts of "Chisinau Glass Company" Ltd
ADEPT comment: The law authorizes the Ministry of Finance to transfer the company assets on credit of the arrears to the state budget, thus founding "Chisinau Glass Company" State enterprise. All the operations related to the transfer of assets shall be VAT exempt.
IV. Law on the ratification of the Memorandum between the Republic of Moldova and Republic of Croatia on mutual promotion and protection of investments
ADEPT comment: The Memorandum provides:
- Definition of "investment", "investor", "income", etc.
- Ways of promoting and allowing investments;
- Treatment of investors;
- Compensation of damages;
- Settlement of disputes, etc.
V. Law on the modification and completion of legislative acts on taxation of goods subject to inspection prior to expedition/dispatch
ADEPT comment: The adoption of the law is considered a step toward encouraging producers and importers of goods to the Republic of Moldova. It exempts from VAT tax the expenses for pre-expedition inspection of the imported goods.
VI. Laws on modification and completion of several legislative acts regulating the adoption procedure
ADEPT comment: Under the law, the adoption applications shall be submitted to the Court within the residence of the adopted or adopter, provided they are citizens of the Republic of Moldova. Foreign citizens shall submit the adoption application to the Court of Appeal. Also, under the law appeals to approve the adoption are exempted from the state tax.
Penal Code and Code on Administrative Offence are completed and modified so as to toughen the liability for violation of adoption procedure.
In a related note, the scandal on alleged illegal adoptions by foreign citizens initiated last year by the Information and Security Service greatly damaged the image of the Republic of Moldova abroad. The fact that the issue was considered at the highest levels made the decision-makers seriously revise the legal framework regulating adoptions and replace the old provisions with new ones.
Simultaneously, a series of administrative and bureaucracy obstacles, which made the adoption procedure so difficult and which determined a lot of candidates to give up the idea of adopting a child in the Republic of Moldova, have been abolished.
VII. Law on modification of the Law on Road Fund
ADEPT comment: Under the Law, the Government will establish the procedure of distributing the road fund, however 50% of the funds shall be allotted for the national road maintenance.
Thus, the Parliament gave up the practice of approving programs for the road maintenance and has delegated this responsibility to the Government. Noteworthy, the issues raised a lot of debates in Parliament as the respective funds were used for electioneering purposes by the local government in electoral campaigns. Under the operated modifications, deputies could no longer lobby the interests of the territories, as the Government is the one to determine where to allocate funds based on the national priorities.
VIII. Parliament Resolution on approving the membership of Creditors Council
ADEPT comment: According to the resolution, new members have been included to the Council, members who hold key positions in the administration of public funds (Ministry of Finance, etc). One of the functions of the Creditors' Council is to conclude Memorandums with enterprises having arrears to the state budget and to temporarily freeze their debts. Accordingly, the Creditors' Council has a lot of responsibility.
IX. Parliament Resolution on declaring the day of wine celebration
ADEPT comment: Under the resolution, wine celebration is to be held on last Sunday of October.
Legal acts adopted in the first (not-final) reading
I. Draft law on the modification and completion of legal acts related to the deputy status
ADEPT comment: President's initiative to amend the Law on Status of Deputy in Parliament enjoyed a large coverage last week. It raised a lot of discussions, including on submitting the draft for the Council of Europe expertise.
The drafts refer to two essential modifications and completions to the legislation in force:
1. Abolishing the current procedure, which allows lifting the deputy's mandate before its expiration, and introducing a new procedure. Thus, the draft envisages the exclusion of the following grounds for lifting the mandates:
- Systematic and groundless absence from Parliament and Commission sessions;
- Repeated failure to comply with the laws and Parliament resolutions;
- Participation in the activity of anti-constitutional bodies;
- Actions that run counter to Constitution and other laws.
Under Article 2 of the Law on the Status of Deputy in Parliament, in the above mentioned cases a deputy's mandate could be lifted by the majority vote of deputies, based on the report of an investigation commission. Under the draft developed by the Presidency, the mandate may be lifted only upon incompatibility, impossibility to exercise the function for more than 4 months, or final judicial conviction for the premeditate offences. In all the said cases, it is proposed that the Constitutional Court should lift the deputy mandate at the recommendation of the Parliament.
2. Another completion refers to Parliament hearings on Government activity, which are to be held once per session, as well as any other hearings, including those at the request of opposition.
A strange thing happened during the debates on the draft. Although the majority faction was committed to pass the draft as soon as possible (within 1-2 days), Dumitru Braghis, leader of an opposition faction in Parliament suggested to submit the draft together with some other legal acts for the expertise of the Council of Europe. Despite the fact that the whole procedure is time consuming, it is difficult to understand the opposition's position: to delay the adoption of a law providing them additional guarantees and enlarging their competencies. It seems that opposition acted strangely in this particular case.
II. Draft law on the modification and completion of the Law on Education
ADEPT comment: The draft includes new provisions on:
- Alternative education;
- Status of colleges;
- High education institutions (institute, academy, university and conservatory);
- Private institutions (functioning as non-profit institutions, based on the notification of the Ministry of Education);
- Statutory capital for the private institution - minimum 180,000 MDL;
- Status of rectors in private institutions, their employment and activity;
- Assets of the private institutions, which should meet the quality standards, etc.
The aim of the draft is to clarify the scope of work of high education institutions. It is expected that upon the adoption of the law, institutions will have to re-register and those of them, which pursue just profit making and neglect the quality of studies will have to cease their activity.