Parliament activity, December 1-5, 2003
8 December 2003
As usual Parliament sessions were quite provocative in that both ruling party and opposition blamed each other. The spirits calmed down by the middle of the week and rose high again when the ruling party called on revoking the head of Commission on Social Protection and Healthcare, Lidia Gutu. The faction headed by Dumitru Braghis holds this position as decided based on the representation criteria.
One of the reasons cited for recalling Mrs Gutu was her participation in the unauthorised protest rallies and involving teenagers in political actions, as well as a number of flaws in running the Parliament commission. In particular the latter refers to absence from the plenary sessions, withholding from fulfilling the responsibilities of chairperson, etc.
Opposition viewed those accusations as an attempt of political revenge and again left the plenary session. Under the Parliament regulation, only the Parliament Speaker is entitled to make a proposition to recall the Commission Chairperson, after prior consultation with all parliamentary factions. Although scheduled, the consultation of the factions never really took place as opposition did not show up for the meetings with the Parliament Speaker. This fact did not stop the ruling party from passing the decision on revoking Mrs. Lidia Gutu and asked the Moldova Noastra faction to designate another person to the relevant position.
I. Resolution on the Conception of State Frontier Security
ADEPT Comment: The Conception approved by the Parliament includes a string of introductory provisions explaining why it was necessary to revise the current concept. The major reasons are as follows:
- Intensification of the international terrorism;
- Soaring migration;
- Soaring cross-border crime.
The general provisions provide for: objectives of frontier security; major state interests at the border area; major factors infringing national interests at the border; basic principles for frontier security (legality, human rights and freedoms, integrity, inalienable and inviolability of state frontiers, observance of international law, etc).
A special chapter provides the basic principles of frontier security, i.e. state prerogatives, fundamental tasks of the frontier policy (completing the delimitation of the frontiers and its juridical and international legalisation), co-operation with neighbourhood countries in view of fighting negative tendencies, co-ordination of the competent public authorities actions in view of developing frontier infrastructure.
Under the Resolution the Government is entrusted to enforce the Conception and within 3 months is to submit to the Parliament a draft law on the Border Guard Service of the Republic of Moldova.
Although it was declared to be a fundamental document on frontier security, the Conception does not include a series of elements that we believe it should have included. For instance the Conception does not include provisions on:
- Delimitation and security of the Eastern frontier (out of the Moldovan authorities control);
- Tasks of the border guard given the immediate vicinity of enlarged European Union;
- Tasks of the border guard in view of making the country more accessible and attractive to the tourists, investors and other foreigners visiting the country.
Having said that, the Conception has ended being a simple document outlining just general principles. It is still questionable whether those principles will be enforced given the lack of funds allotted in this respect.
II. Law on changing the deadline for installing fiscal memory cash registries at the petrol stations
ADEPT Comment: The Parliament extended the deadline for installing cash registers having fiscal memory from November 1, 2003 to April 1, 2004.
Government was forced to take such a decision due to the protests of the businessmen working in the field, as well as due to the failure of creating a state system of recording petrol circulation. At the same time MPs criticised the Government for the fact that although it was aware of the state of affairs well in advance, it let the situation slip out of control.
Government incapacity to solve the said problem was known even from November when the press was reporting that the great majority of petrol stations would be shut down, if the Government were to enforce the law accordingly. Government, however, waited for the deadline to expire and a week later addressed the Parliament to revise its own decision.
Given that lately the Parliament has been harshly criticising some members of the Cabinet, it is likely some of them to be called to resign and therefore be sacrificed on the altar of unsuccessful reforms initiated by the ruling party.
III. Law on cancelling the penalties and sanctions not paid by consumer co-operative societies
ADEPT Comment: The law exempts consumer co-operative societies from paying the penalties and fines calculated for the failure to transfer to the state budget income tax and social fund. The cost thereof is estimated at 10 million Lei.
Commencing 2001 the parliament majority constantly criticised the leadership of the consumer co-operative societies for poor administration of the assets, illegal privatisation of the assets and unwillingness to revive the co-operative movement. In response the former leadership cited the debts, which they believed hindered their activity and lead to the seizure of any revenues. At that time the proposition to exempt them from paying penalties and fines was seen as an attempt to conceal the embezzlement and avoid responsibility.
Currently, after the consumer co-operative leadership was replaced with a new one, which is supported by the ruling party, the attitude towards consumer co-operatives has also changed, even the President attended its recent Congress and promised to cancel their historic debts.
IV. Law on the modification of the Law on the Status of Elected Official
ADEPT Comment: By passing those amendments the Parliament brought the Law on the Status of Elected Official in accordance with the provisions of the new Law on Local Public Administration. In particular amendments refer to:
1. Termination of the mandate of the rayon Chair and Deputy Chairperson, Deputy Mayor: upon incompatibility of functions; impossibility to exercise the functions for more than 4 months in a row; indictment; ousting from a position via a Council ruling; resignation or decease.
2. Incompatibility of the election official's mandate, with the position of: MP; member of the Government; public official in the apparatus of rayon Chairperson, departments or other units in the subordination of the relevant council, mayoralty, or preture; officer in the territorial office of the State Chancellery; and with the position of councillor in a council of the same level or with the position of a councillor in a council of a different level in a second level administrative-territorial units.
V. Law on banning the import of packaging by economic units which do not recycle or destroy it
ADEPT Comment: The law banns the import of single use packaging material if the producer (retailer) does not posess a network to collect/ or recycle it without damaging the environment. The import of the said packaging would be banned unless a safe recycling method is found. The said provisions are likely to affect many domestic businesses that is why Parliament postponed their enforcement until 2005.
VI. Resolutions on appointments and oustings
ADEPT Comment: The Parliament accepted the resignation of the Prosecutor General Mr. Vasile Rusu and appointed Mr. Valeriu Balan to this position. The new Prosecutor General worked in prosecution and courts, and for the last ten years has been working in Information and Security Service.
Experts believe that those reshuffles may have some negative implications due to the long time rivalry between Prosecution and Information Service as both institution claim to know best how to defend the state security and engaged in criticism of each other on the grounds of inefficiency or even unlawfulness. Given that Prosecution is the single body overseeing the activity of the Information Service, we may conclude that the latter's power are now significantly strengthened. From now on it would be able to employ all the levers in its power without being afraid of Prosecution pointing to its violations.
Noteworthy, one week prior to the reshuffle, Parliament harshly criticised the Prosecution for the failure to undertake measures provided for by the law in repressing the protest rallies, whereas it praised the report submitted by the Information Service.
In addition, Parliament recalled the Chair of the Parliament Commission on Social Assistance, Healthcare and Family, Mrs. Lidia Gutu.
Via another resolution Parliament appointed a new member of the Court of Accounts, Mr. Gheorghe Cojocari, who previously worked in the Principal State Fiscal Inspectorate.
VII. Draft law on Alimentary Products
ADEPT Comment: The draft passed by the Parliament in the first reading is aimed at outlining the ground legal framework for the production, processing, distribution of quality alimentary products so as to safeguard peoples' health and protect consumers' rights.
The law provides some general definitions and outlines the subjects of the law. It also establishes a string of requirements for ensuring food safety. A separate chapter is providing for the state regulation of the food retail, certification of products prior to sale, state control in the field. The draft also envisages a procedure of testing, finding non-conformity, withdrawal from the market of the products that do not comply with the regulations, and destroying dangerous products.