Parliament activity, 17-21 May 2004
24 May 2004
During the period covered here, a Moldovan delegation visited Strasbourg, where, according to press releases from the Parliament Press Service, the Moldovan Speaker Eugenia Ostapciuc attended the European Conference of Speakers of Parliament, to which she made an address. During the same visit, the parliamentary delegation had meetings with the Chairman of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly Pieter Schieder, the Council of Europe Secretary General Walter Schwimmer, the Speaker of the Russian Federation Council Serghei Mironov and the Chairman of the German Bundestag Wolfgang Thierse.
The sitting of the Parliament on Thursday, 20 May took place by the now traditional scenario: at the beginning of the sitting People's Christian Democratic Party (PCDP) deputies blocked the central tribune in protest against failure by the ruling party to publish information on public spending, following which the Speaker called for order and banned the PCDP deputies from taking the floor.
Nonetheless the deputies did examine and adopt a number of legislative initiatives, most of which had been submitted by the President for preliminary review. On the occasion of having participated in a TV show, the Speaker said that Parliament adopted in 2001-2004 almost 90% of the proposals of the President, and only a few are still under consideration.
At the end of the meeting, during question time, several deputies from the ruling party requested information on how legal was the privatisation of PCDP premises, as well as which PCDP leaders owned these. The PCDP deputies objected by saying that the ruling party's deputies are being defensive and only want to distract attention from the accusation brought tot hem by the PCDP.
I. Law on the Amendment of the Criminal Code
ADEPT Comment: The law adopted in the final reading provides for the amendment of provisions related to:
1. Forgery, import, transportation, storage, sale of products, provision of services dangerous for the life or health of consumers (Art.216, Criminal Code).
It is provided that the above activities, depending on the gravity and damages caused to the consumers, as well as the method in which they have been caused, will be applied penalties ranging between fines from 900 MDL to imprisonment of up to 7 years. Also is provided such a penalty as banning activities or even liquidating guilty enterprises.
2. Sale of low quality products, or products not meeting current standards (Art.254, Criminal Code).
For intentional sale of goods of low quality or not meeting current standards, penalties will range between fines of 6,000 MDL to imprisonment for up to seven years.
II. Law on Amending the Law on State Awards and the Decision on Instituting the Anniversary Award "60 Years of the Liberation of Moldova from the Fascist Occupation"
ADEPT Comment: The President proposed the Parliament to institute the medal "60 Years of the Liberation of Moldova from the Fascist Occupation" to mark on 24 August 2004, 60 years of the liberation of Moldova from the fascist occupation and to thank those who participated in the liberation operations. To put this into practice, the Parliament amended the Law on State Awards, and approved the statute and sample of the respective anniversary award.
The following will qualify for the award:
- Military personnel from the USSR Armed Forces, the troops of the people's Commissariat for Internal Affairs, and the civil employees who took part in the liberation of Moldova;
- Participants in the partisan movement and the undercover movement which were active at the time on the territory of the republic.
The costs related to the award will be covered by the Government, which will have to determine the source of funding, from the state budget. The mass media have already discussed this issue, and have determined that about 300,000 people will be receiving the award. The amount will be much lower should the award be conferred to citizens of Moldova only and only in unique cases to other deserving nominees.
III. Law on the Amendment of the Law of Joint Stock Associations
ADEPT Comment: This law provides for the obligation of joint stock associations to pay as dividends at least 30% of the net profit that they make after they fulfil other obligations according to current laws. This draft was criticised by representatives of joint stock associations as one limiting the autonomy of enterprise administration and freedom of economic activity. On the other hand, the authors of the draft said the draft was aimed at supporting minority shareholders, whose number is considerable, but who often are treated in an unfair manner by not receiving their yearly dividends or receiving them in small amounts.
IV. Draft Law on Amending and Completing Article 49 of the Fiscal Code in order to Support Small Businesses
ADEPT Comment: This draft is an initiative of the president and proposes to establish a mechanism to stimulate small businesses by exempting them from taxes.
The following arguments to adopt the amendments have been put forward: the importance of small businesses in tackling such problems as unemployment, razing revenues to budgets of all levels, ensuring stability in the society.
According to the proposed wording of Article 49 of the Fiscal Code, the economic agents with an average number of up to 19 employees, and whose net sales record does not exceed 3 million MDL, upon filing a request with the Territorial State Fiscal Inspectorate, may benefit of full exemption from income tax for an initial period of three years, and for the next two years - of a 35% reduction in tax. The beneficiaries entitled to facilities for payment of the income tax may be economic agents, farms and agricultural cooperatives, regardless of whether they manufacture products (provide services) or are involved in some other sort of commercial activity.
According to the new wording of Article 49 of the Fiscal Code and Article 1 of the Law on Support and Protection of Small Businesses, the mentioned facilities will be granted to all small enterprises and part of the small enterprises whose net sales do not exceed 3 million MDL, and the number of employees is of up to 19 people.
The proposed exemptions will not apply to the following economic agents:
- That have a dominant position in the market;
- That have a social capital in which the of shareholders who are not small business agents exceeds 35%;
- Producers and importers of goods subject to excises;
- Fiduciary or insurance companies;
- Investment funds;
- Banks and other financial institutions;
- Currency exchange offices and lombards;
- Enterprises specialised in gambling services.
The rights to exemption from the income tax will be granted on the basis of an application to be submitted by the economic agent to the territorial branch of the State Fiscal Service. The Economic agent will be deprived of this right should they have arrears in paying taxes to the national public budget, fail to submit in due time their fiscal reports for the preceding fiscal period, etc.
Many experts have showed sceptical with regard to these provisions, and thought that these are more politically rather than economically minded. Such views are motivated by the fact that practically all governments since 1990 have initiated programmes of support of small businesses and introduced fiscal facilities. The effect of those measures has been limited, in particular due to the attitude of public officers and the control bodies, but also the improper behaviour of salesmen and producers, who have always sought and found ways round making payments provided by current laws.