Opening of a new legislative session
15 February 2004
On February 5, Parliament resumed its activity after a one-month vacation. This is the seventh session of current legislature, which would last until mid-summer. During her inauguration speech, the Parliament Chair, Eugenia Ostapciuc, once again reaffirmed that European integration was a strategic goal for the Republic of Moldova and called on all the deputies to dedicate entirely their activity towards that goal.
The Chair also called on opposition to take an active part in the ruling party's initiatives. "Braghis Alliance" immediate response was to ask for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to brief the Parliament on the state of negotiations between Republic of Moldova and EU. The briefing is to take place in the next two weeks.
The Parliament was very prolific in its first week of its activity and adopted a number of legal acts, some of them would be considered in greater detail bellow.
I. Law on protectionist measures against the import of sugar at dumping prices
ADEPT Comment: Via the law a special tax on the imported sugar was set worth 100-115 Euro/ tone throughout 2004-2008. This tax shall be paid in addition to the customs tax, regardless of country of origin. The move is aimed to protect domestic sugar producers, however on the expense of the consumers who are likely to pay a higher price on sugar.
Noteworthy, Government representatives refrained from commenting on whether the sugar price on the market would have dropped if cheaper sugar was imported. It seems that the interests of the domestic producers have prevailed over that of the consumers.
II. Law on the Modification of the Law on Local Taxes
ADEPT Comment: Via the law the Parliament abolished such taxes as: salubrity tax, tax for packaging and wastes disposal, as well as state border tax. The latter would deprive local public administration of the border regions from one of their most important sources of income. On the other hand, it reduces the number of taxes due and facilitates the transit of goods and travellers.
It is expected that the law would raise severe criticism among authorities who used to lever those taxes, especially as they were already provided for in their budgets for 2004.
III. Law on establishing a preferential VAT on delivery of goods
ADEPT Comment: Under the modifications to the Fiscal Code, a 5% VAT on zootechnical, fitotechnical and agricultural products was established throughout 2004. The amendments are aimed at facilitating the acquisition of natural products by large acquisition networks and cooperatist societies.
Noteworthy, there are many others who could advantage of the law. On the other hand, the great number of intermediaries between the producer and consumer might undermine the very purpose of the law as the sale price would also include an increased VAT. To avoid it the specialised bodies would have to pay a close attention to the way the market price is formed.
IV. Law on the modification of the Fiscal Code in view of enlarging the application of banking cards
ADEPT Comment: The law allows for paying fiscal obligations by means of banking cards, date of payment being considered the day the account was debited.
V. Laws on the ratification of international acts
ADEPT Comment: Parliament ratified the following international acts:
- Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Moldova and the Government of Sweden on the framework and terms of co-operation throughout 2003-2008. The agreement provides for a yearly assistance to be granted to the Republic of Moldova by Sweden worth 5 million USD.
- Protocol on European Community joining the International Convention on the co-operation in air traffic safety. Republic of Moldova is a full right member of the organisation and endorsed its adhesion to the Convention.
- Protocol on involving children in the armed conflicts to the Convention on the children's rights. Protocol prohibits recruiting and involving persons up to 18 in military conflicts.
- Protocol amending the European Convention on fighting terrorism. The Protocol is aimed at updating the list of international conventions on fighting terrorism, defining new procedures for monitoring conventions' enforcement, giving a larger mandate to the European Committee overseeing Convention enforcement, etc.
VI. Draft law on the modification of the Code of the Auto Transportation
ADEPT Comment: The draft approved in the first reading provides new grounds for recalling the license on auto-transportation, namely:
- Accidents involving licence holder, or his/her failure to keep the vehicle in good technical conditions, and/or failure to take all the measures to prevent an accident based on a court ruling and that has incurred a death, or injury to passengers;
- Transporting passengers and luggage in other vehicles than the ones the license was issued for;
- Failure to comply with the route, stations as provided for by the regulation;
- Bypassing customs check points, unloading the goods in places not authorised by the customs officers.
The amendments were severely criticised both by the ruling party and opposition. The former argued that there were no legal grounds for the said amendments and that the sanctions might affect the interests of several parties. The latter argued that the amendments would allow ruling party to do away with competitors and promote their own operators loyal to them.
Law authors had answers at hand to all the questions, and finally deputies decided to pass the law in the first reading, while the responsible commission was entrusted to perfect the law so as to take into consideration the interests of all the parties.
Noteworthy, previously Government made several attempts to fight illegal transportation in response to numerous accidents involving unauthorised means of public transportation. The issue was also on the agenda of several meetings convened by the President. Moreover, deputies called on Government to do some order in the field of public transportation. Nevertheless, despite the good intentions, when group or personal interests are at stake, ruling party is not so united in its position and may even compete with the opposition in defending.
VII. Draft law on the modification of the Law on ID
ADEPT Comment: The modifications envisage granting a diplomatic passport to the Chair of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and a service passport to the Deputy Chair as well as to Chair of the Court of Commerce Arbitration.
VIII. Draft law on the modification of the Penal Code
ADEPT Comment: The draft includes a new wording for Article 216 of the Penal Code - Production (counterfeit), import, transportation, storage, sale of products (goods), rendering services dangerous to the consumers' health.
It is proposed that production (counterfeit), import, transportation, storage, sale of products (goods), rendering services dangerous to the consumers' life and health should be sanctioned with a fine of 450 units (one unit equal to 20 MDL) and from 3 to 7 years in prison, whereas for legal entities a fine equal to 10,000 units, and prohibition to conduct certain activities, with (or without) liquidating the company.
In addition it is proposed to amend Article 254 of the Penal Code - Sale of poor quality products or not complying with the standards.
It is proposed that deliberate sale of products of poor quality or not complying with the standards that have brought damages should be sanctioned with a fine worth 300 conventional units and 3 to 7 years in prison, whereas for legal entity a fine of up to 10,000 units and prohibition to conduct certain activities, with (or without) liquidating the company.