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Noisy start of parliamentary session
Sergiu Grosu, October 11, 2005
The parliament started the second annual session on October 6 after a vacation of more than two months. The long break of plenary sittings marked the lawmakers who had earlier actively participated in debates and hour of the government. Indeed, the parliamentary opposition representatives have started an offensive from the very beginning, mainly against executive and its institutions. Of neither course, nor bitter accusations against parliamentary majority and government in general were absent. Statements in this regard and appeals voiced by lawmakers at the first sitting envisaged the situation in agriculture sector. In addition, social-political, education, and health-related problems were tackled. Several of discussed drafts were received with reticence from the very beginning, before their detailed examination and hearing of stance of parliamentary commissions, so that those who refused first to support the proposals accepted them later, motivating the initial stance through an arden state of spirit or lack of detailed explanations. The last objection was generated by insufficient quality of materials promoted by executive.
The parliamentary majority turned down the proposals of representatives of the Alliance Our Moldova to include in agenda several draft laws aimed to improve the legislative framework on taxation of agriculture and to maintain the facilitary VAT for some categories of goods. Also, no exact term when the executive must report on its activity and measures aimed at improvement of situation of farmers were established so far.
The ardent debates at the opening sitting were preceded by an introducing speech of speaker, who reviewed the accomplishments of the precedent session and outlined tasks for the autumn-winter session. He indicated among others the following priorities of parliamentary activity:
- elaboration of a legislative programme till 2009 and a programme on examination of drafts examined by the Council of Europe;
- organisation of parliamentary hearings on key national programmes (Economic Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper, governing programme, the European Union-Moldova Action Plan);
- promotion of parliamentary diplomacy in some key directions (cooperation with the E.U.; cooperation with the Russian Federation; strengthening of neighborhood relations; collaboration with the Baltics for elaboration of mechanism for adjustment of national legislation to community laws);
- elaboration and implementation of the concept on cooperation between legislature and civil society in a short term.
Lawmakers examined draft documents in one hour in the two days of opening sittings, spending the rest of time on tries to vote the withdrawal of immunity from certain opposition parliamentarians, questions, appeals, statements and ardent dialogues between representatives of opposition and parliamentary majority.
Decision for modification of the regulation on use of money from the agriculture sustenance fund. The decision establishes the possibility to award budgetary subsidies to businesses working in agriculture sector which took credits from commercial banks or different loan associations in 2001-04 and did not reimburse them in the due time or failed to pay all interests. The regulation says that agricultural producers who fulfil these obligations till December 31, 2005 can benefit from budgetary subsidies.
The regulation on awarding of subsidies establishes that producers who took credits can receive subsidies of maximum 125,000 lei in line with a special formula. As much as 30 million lei was allocated from the budget for this purpose. The adoption of this document was preceded by a negative stance of opposition representatives who invoked first the lack of information and insufficient transparency related to awarding of these subsidies. Most of lawmakers voted for adoption of this decision after receiving supplementary explanations and learning that the specialised commission has got a list with 140 debtor businesses, accepting to award subsidies of about 1.5 million lei to debtor enterprises.
Law on importation of an automobile. The importation of a specialised medical automobile (mobile machine for burning) manufactured in 1989 for needs of the traumatology hospital in Chisinau, without any right to sell it later, is allowed as exception through derogation from provisions of the November 20, 1197 law # 1380-XIII on customs duty.
It was said during talks that these modalities of promotion of imports by lawmakers as exceptions indicate some lobby trends and such drafts must come exclusively from the cabinet of ministers, which has possibilities and resources needed for an adequate examination of the problem and determination of the need to derogate from the organic law on customs duty.
We note in this regard that the parliament has already adopted 15 derogation laws in 2001-05 since introduction of interdiction against imports of cars older than 10 years, which allowed the importation of more than 35 vehicles for different destinations (medicine, power networks, firefighters, penitentiaries, etc.), older than established by law. According to competent specialists, the technical condition of automobiles imported on exceptional ways was not always satisfactory, while some of them unfit the necessary ecological requirements.
Starting 2006, the authorities plan to ban the importation of automobiles older than 7 years and this will increase the prices on auto market and will probably encourage a higher number of legislative documents adopted as exceptions for different public and social needs, but not for private needs.
Law for completion of Article 38 of the law on acquisition of goods, works and services for needs of the state. Under the law that the parliament passed in two readings at once, certain facilitary legislative conditions will be created for enterprises of Moldovan associations of blind, disabled and deaf people. Thus, the law on acquisitions (# 1166-XIII from April 30, 1997) includes regulations which allow working groups for acquisitions to apply a preferential margin of maximum
15 percent for goods, works and services of these enterprises while evaluating and comparing the offers. Respectively, if these goods (service, work) will be produced by another domestic or foreign business and will cost by 15 percent less, public acquisition institutions will be allowed to choose the more expensive goods, assisting the economic activity of disabled people this way.
The official motivation of these modifications is the need to support these enterprises, which raised very large debts and are not competitive because they spend large amounts to arrange and create special work conditions for disabled people. These enterprises are exempted from a series of state taxes and fees every year, being awarded other facilities as well, which do not settle however all the problems related to their activity.
Draft law for modification and completion of the law on prevention and combat of money laundering and financing of terrorism. The draft adopted in the first reading stipulates the possibility to receive electronic reports and to create an electronic database on suspect deals and other types of bank transactions, which fall under incidence of the law on combat of money laundering (# 633-XV from November 15, 2001). Also, it proposes the liberalisation of control on transactions carried out by non-residents through bank cards issued in Moldova, while foreign competent bodies will have the possibility to control them in compliance with interstate agreements and other international documents on this sector. The declared goal of the last modifications its o attract foreign investments in Moldova and to improve the investment image of the country this way.
To outline in this regard that Moldovan president has told a recent forum with participation of local businessmen that the high interests on credits of Moldovan commercial banks do not encourage the economy and the authorities will find ways to invite foreign financial institutions to come with cheaper crediting sources, if the situation does not improve.
The law on combat of money laundering was approved at the recommendation of international organisations and it calls among other measures for issuing of special kits by financial institutions for any operation of individual worth more than 300,000 lei (23,800 dollars) and for any operation of business worth more than 500,000 lei (39,700 dollars), and to deliver these kits to the Centre for the Struggle Against Economic Crimes and Corruption (CCCEC) which can check the deals selectively or methodically.
The adoption of this law has provoked negative reactions from bank community and businessmen at the very beginning, fearing that it is too restrictive and does not encourage investments. The increase of the minimum share of operations for control was proposed later, but the parliament turned down this proposal. Although the law is in effect for four years, no detailed statistics on illegal sums whose legalisation was combated or discovered by CCCEC are available so far.
Declarations on internal policy
The parliamentary factions representing the Alliance Our Moldova (AMN) and Christian Democratic People's Party (PPCD) spoke out about policy of the executive at the end of the October 6 sitting. AMN contested the situation of agriculture, invoking as shortcomings the forced consolidation of fields, compromising of exports of agricultural production to Russia, acquisition of cereals for lower prices, limitation of exports of cereals through Commodity Exchange, etc. The government was urged to exempt farmers from land tax and contributions to the State Social Fund, to prolong the validity term of the 5-percent VAT for phytotechny and horticulture production till 2011, to create a cereals intervention fund, to compensate higher prices of oil products, etc.
PPCD invoked the difficult situation of agriculture and the failure of reforms in healthcare and education sectors. According to Christian Democrats, the current situation may compromise the executive and parliament and, therefore, the legislature must efficiently fulfil its control function, soliciting the cabinet of ministers to take some adequate measures and to hear information at public sittings.
The parliamentary majority turned down a proposal to discuss draft laws on tackled issues immediately and the speaker introduced the problem regarding withdrawal of juridical immunity from several lawmakers, at the request of prosecutor-general, as exception in agenda at the beginning of the October 7 sitting, in order to distort the attention of opposition and public opinion from such topics. The motivation of the urgent examination was the presentation of a report on this topic by the juridical commission for appointments and immunities, a report that the parliament is to accept or turn down the request within seven days after presentation in line with legislation in effect. The violation of the legal procedure, which says that the decision indicating grounded reasons to approve the request of the prosecutor-general is adopted with the vote of "at least half plus one of its members" (Article 10, Paragraph 2 of the law on status of parliamentarian) demonstrates that the competent commission was "hurried up" to unveil the report, and this situation provoked controversial talks at plenary sitting. The same article of the law says that the juridical commission for appointments and immunities must establish the existence of some grounded reasons for approval of the request of prosecutor-general "within maximum 15 days" after its reception from speaker. Taking into account the fact that the prosecutor's office tabled its request in early summer, the legal term for its examination has expired and the prosecutor-general must submit a new request.
The creation of the voting commission and secret voting for withdrawal of immunity was postponed for October 13 and we could observe the reaction of specialised international organisations in this regard till this date for sure. The recent resolution 1465 (2005) of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe urges the Moldovan authorities to review the regulations and status of lawmaker which allow the loss of immunity for political reasons, as well as to reexamine reasons of penal investigation against opposition leaders at central and local levels.