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Parliament activity, October 20-24, 2003
27 October 2003
To begin with it is worth considering the major events taking place on the political scenery.
Firstly, let us consider the speech delivered by Polish President, Aleksander Kwasniewski on October 23 in the Moldovan Parliament. Apart for the fact that he started and closed his speech in Romanian that garnered him a rich applauses Polish President made several remarks that are very beneficial to Moldova. Citing Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact that left victims both in Moldova and Poland, Kwasniewski stated that Poland learned a lesson from its past and that the prosperity of the country was mainly due to tolerance and open dialogue between political actors. An illustration of this were the negotiations within the Round Table that enabled a smooth transition to a new political system in Poland.
The President also stated that:
- supporting Moldova in its EU accession efforts was a priority for the entire Europe and Poland in particular;
- NATO extension should not be viewed as threat, as it would only bring stability and security to the region;
- EU frontiers which in 2004 would lie on the Prut river should not be viewed as rigid and distancing Moldova from Europe, rather for this to happen joint efforts should be taken;
- there is no other option than European integration at the moment, and Moldova should follow this road.
Secondly, each Parliament session is full of political declarations, both of the majority faction and opposition. Again, "Teleradio-Moldova" issue has taken center stage. Previously opposition used only to criticize the draft law on the state company liquidation, now they are openly blaming the ruling party for the poor state of affairs in the company, in particular poor financial administration of the State Company. Noteworthy, it was under the leadership appointed by the majority faction that great debts were incurred, which now are to be recovered from the state budget.
In its turn, majority faction accused opposition of politicizing the issue of Teleradio-Moldova. Several opposition members attended protest rallies staged by the company employees.
There are several reasons to believe that the state of affairs would deteriorate even further, given the approaching hearings on the state budget, approaching deadline for Russia to evacuate its troops from Transdnistria. It is to be expected that both majority faction and opposition would resort to some tough measures, however not too tough as long as Moldova holds the Presidency of the Council of Europe Ministerial Committee.
Apart from political matters, let us now consider the legal acts examined by the Parliament.
I. Law on Completing the Law on Notary
ADEPT Comment: The law entitles registrars of the State Registration Chamber to provide several notary services free of charge, namely:
- certifying founding acts of the enterprises, modifications and completions to the state registry of enterprises;
- legalizing copies of the founding acts of the enterprises, excerpts thereof, and state registration certificate kept in the Chamber archive.
Citizens requesting the said services would have to pay just the state tax, and will be exempted from the notary fee.
Government did not endorse the draft, this refers in particular to the Ministry of Justice. Nevertheless, deputies considered that small-to-middling business would benefit of the said modifications. Also deputies claimed notaries were unjustly charging high fees for the services registrars would now provide free of charge. To put it differently, notaries opposed the draft through the Ministry of Justice where they have people lobbying their interests.
II. Law on exempting from VAT construction works at several museums
ADEPT Comment: The law exempts from VAT construction and renovation works at the Capriana Monastery, "Badea Mior" monument in Soroca, and monument in Serpeni. Construction and renovation of those monuments is funded from donations of the legal and natural entities. Minister of Finances, thus, refuted the allegations that the said works are funded from the state budget.
It is worth mentioning that two marathons (radio, TV) were organized to raise funds for Capriana Monastery. Various donations were made, the greatest one by the Minister of Transportation (at that time electoral candidate running for the Chisinau Mayoralty), who reported that ministerial enterprises donated funds and provided construction works worth 3 million Lei. Given that the said enterprises are state owned, one may conclude that the funds also were allotted from the state budget.
Mention should be made that restoration of the Capriana Monastery was initiated by the President of the Republic of Moldova and Moldovan Church Opposition claimed restoration would be entrusted to enterprises close to the ruling party, especially to the son of the President.
III. Resolution on approving the National Action Plan on Human Rights
ADEPT Comment: The Action Plan developed with the financial support of UNDP office in Moldova is intended to improve human rights in Moldova. It includes the following chapters:
- General provisions: legal framework, current state of affairs, goals and objectives, implementation, etc;
- Actions to be taken: adhering to relevant international structures; actions in the main fields (labor, education, environment, minorities' and detainees' rights, equal opportunities, etc);
- Perfecting national legislation in the field;
- Monitoring the implementation of the plan.
A number of experts are skeptical with regard to the implementation of the document, especially as there are no funds allotted. One of the suggested solutions was to apply for funding to foreign donors. However, the financial aid provided to Moldova has considerably dropped lately. It would have been more appropriate the $100,000 to be spent on the enforcement of the plan, rather than on its elaboration.
IV. Draft law on the sample-statute of the village (commune), city (Municipality), passed in the first reading
ADEPT Comment: The draft is part of the legal framework regulating local public administration. Sample-statutes of the village (commune), city (municipality) shall serve as a legal basis for the statute of the administrative-territorial units.
The statute will include specific elements distinguishing a certain locality from others, such as:
- name of the locality, area of the administrative territory, boundaries of administrative territorial unit, residence of the locality;
- name of the localities within the unit, in the case of cities - name of villages and localities part thereof - lay out, graphic representation and description;
- territory under the jurisdiction of the local council and mayor; historic data about the locality - date of establishment, lay out of the locality, land in property and owners thereof;
- number of residents, including in the localities part of the administrative-territorial unit, ethnic representation;
- local council and mayor, address, number of councilors and mayoralty apparatus;
- patrimony of the administrative-territorial unit, in qualitative and quantitative terms;
- institutions in the field of education, culture, healthcare, social assistance, press, radio, TV, etc, other data related to the locality history;
- existing communication channels, closest railway and maritime station or airport and the distance to them;
- services of the local public administration (mandate, responsibilities, subordination);
- indicators on small business, industry, commerce and agriculture;
- public associations and trade unions active in the locality;
- media outlets informing residents of the village (commune), city (municipality) on the activity of local public administration;
- planning and cleaning of the administrative-territorial unit, etc.
Also, the statute provides on ways administrative-territorial unit patrimony may be administered by the municipal enterprises and public institutions, i.e. concessions, rent, or lease.
Moreover the statute provides for:
- criteria used by local council when purchasing or selling goods in the village (commune), city (municipality) patrimony;
- methods of drafting the budget of the village (comune), city (municipality), reporting and enforcement, as well as of collecting local taxes, fees and other payments;
- criteria for selecting "honorary citizens" for special political, cultural, economic and social merits, their rights as well as conditions and procedure of withdrawing this status;
- conditions for cooperating and associating with other local public administration bodies at home or abroad in view of promoting mutual interests, etc.
Another extremely important provision stipulates that residents of the village (commune), city (municipality) shall be consulted in a referendum on the major issues for the administrative-territorial unit. Referenda, reunions and consultation of citizens, and public hearings may be held in all the localities part of the administrative-territorial unit, or only a part thereof. Citizens' reunions shall be organized in each village - in rural areas, and in each district or street - in urban areas.
V. Draft law on approving the frame-regulation on establishment and functioning of local and rayon councils, adopted in the first reading
ADEPT Comment: This document is also part of the acts necessary to ensure normal functioning of the newly-reformed local public administration. It consists of two chapters:
1. Establishment of councils: procedure of establishing local and rayon councils; establishment and activity of specialized commissions of the council.
2. Sessions of the local and rayon councils: responsibilities of the chair of the meeting and council secretary; conduct of sessions; procedure for drawing draft decisions; voting procedure; questions, appeals, petitions and informing councilors.
The regulation also includes an appendix providing that specialized commissions of the local and rayon councils may be established in the following fields of activity:
- Agriculture and industry;
- Economy and finance
- Socio-cultural activity, tourism and religion
- Environment, territory planning
- Education, social protection, healthcare
- Law and discipline.
The regulation entitles council to establish specialized commissions in other fields as well, or to have one commission work on two or more fields.
The law provides that based on the frame-regulation local and rayon councils would develop their own regulations.
Although such regulations exist at the moment, experts believe that such a detailed specification of the local and rayon council activity is nothing but an interference in their activity and limitation of their mandate. This in itself runs counter to the international legal framework in the field.
Noteworthy, during the debates in Parliament no mention was made that the document had been submitted for the expertise of the Council of Europe.