Parliament Activity Review March 24-28, 2003
April 2, 2003
Once the electoral period commenced, opposition gave up boycotting Parliament session and resumed their legislative activity.
Transit of nuclear wastes on the soil of the Republic of Moldova took the center stage last week. Legislature's intention to regulate nuclear wastes transit spurred protest of environmental NGOs both in the country and abroad (Bulgaria, Ukraine, Russia). Only Romanian NGOs refrained from any comments, probably because Bulgaria and Romania signed a cooperative agreement and the matter was settled long before.
It is worth mentioning that opposition backed environmental NGOs in an attempt to draw public attention to the issue, especially on the eve of elections. An evidence to this is the recent merger of the Environmental Party with Our Moldova Electoral Bloc.
Despite many controversial and tiresome debates, the Parliament managed to examine and pass several important pieces of legislation.
I. Laws on the ratification of quadri-Agreement on the transit of nuclear wastes from Kozlodui nuclear power station
ADEPT comment: Before ratifying the Agreement, the Parliament operated a series of amendment to the laws related to environment and transportation, allowing for the transit of nuclear wastes from Bulgaria. Afterwards, the Parliament ratified the Agreement between the Republic of Moldova, Russian Federation, Bulgaria, and Ukraine "On Cooperation in Transporting the Nuclear Wastes between Russian Federation and Bulgaria through the territory of the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine".
The Agreement was signed by the parties back in November 1997 and includes provisions:
- Bodies to ensure security measures;
- Transportation to be used;
- Liability for would-be damages in case of accidents (only Russia and Bulgaria);
- Liquidation of the accident consequences (on the expense of the country in which the accident was produced) etc.
II. Law on ratification of Agreement of Ukraine adhesion to the CIS Economic Union
ADEPT comment: Although it took over the Presidency of CIS, so far Ukraine hasn't enjoyed the status of associated-member to CIS Economic Union. And this because initially Ukraine requested a special status and intended to sign a separate bilateral Agreement.
Given that establishment of a Free Economic Zone was at issue during the last CIS Summit, Ukraine's acceptance as an associated-member was another step towards the achievement of the said goal.
Nevertheless, the situation with CIS is quite unclear, especially in the context of the newly established economic community (see the joint statement of Presidents of Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan).
III. Law on Pension Indemnification
ADEPT comment: The Parliament ruled that pensions (not exceeding three minimal salaries) should be indemnified yearly on April 1. In addition the Parliament decided that the minimal indemnification should not be less that 50 lei, whereas the minimal pension less than 135 lei.
Pension related calculations and payments shall be done no sooner than mid-May, fact that would be fully exploited for electioneering purposes. Moreover, representatives of international monetary organizations voiced their skepticism with regard to authorities' capacity to raise funds to pay for the indemnification, and stated that this decision might raise obstacles in resuming the funding. However, authorities count on a short-term gain, as the creditors would be blamed for obstructing social assistance measures to the population.
IV. Law on Establishing a Migration Department
ADEPT comment: The establishment of a Migration Department was provided for in the Law on Migration adopted by the Parliament last year. This has raised the number of Government Department's to 29, out of which 8 have been established since 2001.
Needless to say, a series of decisions have been passed recently prohibiting the increase of the number of public employees, even stipulating that the public institutions apparatus may be enlarged only via a Government resolution.
V. Resolution on the results of control over Customs' compliance with the law
ADEPT comment: The resolution points to serious violations of the legal framework by Customs authorities and outlines a series of measures to be undertaken:
- Periodic reexamination of the methodology used to estimate the value of goods and price calculation;
- Closer cooperation with Republic of Moldova diplomatic missions in view of monitoring the circulation of goods;
- Improving the recruitment, training and activity of Customs personnel;
- Establishing the liability of employees guilty of violations and abuses;
- Close monitoring of investigations and cases involving Customs, etc.
It is worth mentioning that the problem has been debated numerous of times. Although Customs revenues to the state budget have significantly increased, it remains one of the most corrupted and bureaucratic structures in the country. Despite serious concerns over the problem, no attempts are made to reform the entire system.
VI. Law on the modification and completion of legal acts on the activity of the Center for Fighting Economic Crime and Corruption, adopted in the first reading
ADEPT comment: The examination of the law spurred a lot of controversy among deputies, some of them suggesting to adjourn the adoption until the enforcement of a new Penal Code and Code of Penal Procedure.
Among others the draft modifies and completes the prerogatives of the Center, which are currently provided for in numerous acts, such as Code of Penal Procedure, Penal Code, Fiscal Code, Customs Code, Law on Fighting Money Laundering, Law on the Court of Accounts, etc.
Needless to say the establishment of the Center itself was very difficult. Many experts in the field voiced their skepticism with regard to the need and efficiency of such a structure, which only duplicates the functions of the law enforcement and financial bodies.