Parliament activity, November 10-14, 2003
24 November 2003
During the aforesaid period, Parliament examined a string of legal acts drawing public attention. One of the said documents, is the draft law on the modification of the Law on National Public Audio-visual Institution, which has previously spurred debates and protests among specialised organisations, and even the intervention of the Council of Europe. The latter provided an expertise of the draft, as well as mediated the talks on reaching a mutually acceptable compromise.
Also, Parliament passed a string of legal acts on the functioning of local government, such as the Frame-regulation on the functioning of local and rayon councils.
I. Law on Approval of the Frame-Regulation on establishing and operation of local and rayon councils
ADEPT Comment: We have referred in detail to the draft in our Commentary of October 20-24. However, the following amendments have been operated in the final draft:
- Procedure of convening the first council session. It was decided that the first session shall be considered deliberative provided no less than 2/3 of elected councillors are in attendance, otherwise another session shall be convened 3 days later. If the quorum is not secured at the second attempt, then at least ? of the elected councillors should be in attendance at the third session, otherwise the council shall be deemed dissolved.
- Procedure of establishing council factions - made up of at least 3 councillors.
- Procedure of electing Rayon Deputy Chair (and Deputy Chair of the locality) - at the proposition of the Rayon Chair (Mayor of locality), after prior consultation with the factions.
- Language used during the sessions and for drawing up council documents. It was decided that the sessions shall be conducted in Moldovan language or other language used on the soil of the relevant administrative-territorial unit. Council shall write its entire documents in Moldova, which are to be translated in Russian whenever it is deemed necessary. In localities largely populated by other ethnicity, the documents shall be drawn in the language spoken by the majority population, and shall be translated into the state language.
II. Law on the Status of Foreign Military Forces
ADEPT Comment: We have referred in detail to the draft in our Commentary of July 1-4, 2003. However, the following amendments have been operated in the final draft:
1. Restrictions on the transportation: It was decided that military vehicles might cross the state border on public roads only if they comply with the international traffic requirements and if drivers posses a national or international driving license in line with international rules in the field.
2. Taxation of the foreign military: It was decided that:
- economic activity conducted by the families of the foreign military or civil contingent shall be subject to the taxation regime of the Republic of Moldova;
- members of the military forces shall be exempted from income tax on salary or honorarium received from the state that sent them to the region;
- military forces shall be exempted from customs duties and other fees when importing equipment, provisions, vehicles, fuel and other goods to be used exclusively by the military and civil contingent, etc.
III. Law on Modification and Completion on the Law on Public Teleradio-Moldova Institution
ADEPT Comment: The initial draft proposed a string of structural and technical changes, liquidation of the Teleradio-Moldova State Company, lay off of entire staff and recruitment of a new one by the new structure, i.e. National Audio-visual Public Institution Teleradio-Moldova. The grounds for such changes are that at the moment there are two structures - State Company that has not ceased its activity; and the public company that has been established (only its leadership being designating but no funds nor patrimony was allocated).
The draft has garnered a rich harvest of criticism from opposition and non-governmental sector working in the field. Therefore the draft was submitted for the expertise of the Council of Europe, which initially evaluated it in negative terms. In order to reach a compromise a group made up of representatives of all parliament factions flew to Strasbourg. Together with Council of Europe experts they discussed and drafted the final wording of the draft on reorganisation of the Teleradio-Moldova Company.
The draft passed by the Parliament provides that Observer Council will endorse the membership of the Company Board of Directors, which in its turn will submit for the approval of the Observer Council the company bylaws, work plan and its regulation.
The Company Director shall submit for Board of Director's approval the personnel record. Observer Council shall establish a Tender Commission to recruit in a transparent manner the new staff.
Government undertakes to inventory the Company assets and to transfer them into the property of the new Company. Afterwards it shall liquidate the State Company and come up with a pay off procedure.
So far it is not clear what would be the stance of the Company employees, however a lot of problems and conflicts are likely to surface upon the enforcement of the Law. ADEPT will keep a close eye on the developments.
IV. Law on the Modification and Completion of Legal Acts related to Water
ADEPT Comment: The law operates a string of modifications to the Water Code. In particular a number of new notions were added, such as aquatic object, fish breeding aquatic objects, beneficiary of the aqua resources, aqua resources protection, aqua resources usage, etc.
Also new provisions have been added referring to the ownership of aqua resources. Thereby, aqua objects of the Republic of Moldova may be either in public property of the state or administrative-territorial units, or in the private property of natural or legal entities.
Aqua objects in public property may be given into exclusive concession. Water resources shall be given into concession by the Government or local government.
A series of provisions refer to the adherent land. It was also established that the following are under state property: aqua objects located in two or more administrative territorial units, subterraneous waters; aqua objects located in a single administrative-territorial unit that are necessary for the water supply, energy supply, transportation, telecommunication, meteorology or other state system; border aqua objects; aqua objects - resorts under state protection; resorts of national importance; aqua resource granted by the Government for fish breeding.
Moreover, the use of aqua resources may be limited or prohibited partially or totally in view of protecting state security, public health, environment, cultural and historic heritage according to the law.
Noteworthy, this issue has been debated for a long time and resulted in a number of litigations. State interference has led to Government resolutions being appealed in Constitutional Court. The situation worsened considerably after the local elections when newly elected bodies attempted to redistribute the fish breeding basins in view of getting revenues for the community and for them personally.
V. Law on Modification of Legal Acts on the Refugees Entry and Exit
ADEPT Comment: The law regulates the types of documents and issuance procedure: travel documents, ID for refugees, residence permit. The aforesaid documents shall be drawn in three languages - Moldovan, Russian, and English.
VI. Draft law on modification of the Code of Administrative Offence
ADEPT Comment: The draft provides for sanctions to be imposed for unauthorised constructions and unauthorised changes to the existing constructions, ranging from 200 to 1,000 minimal salaries. The draft also provides that if the constructions or changes were not authorised but correspond to the existing technical and urban requirements then they might be legalised after all the documentation is settled and fines paid. Noteworthy, the current Code of Offences was passed in summer 2001, however it was poorly enforced. That is why certain clarifications to the law were necessary.