In the last two weeks the Parliament examined and adopted a series of important legislative acts, including:
Law on Lease in Agriculture
This law establishes the normative framework for the consolidation of leasing relations in agriculture, as well as determines the objects and subjects of relations in agriculture and their rights and duties.
It is to be noted that water pools/reservoirs are to be excluded from the category "agricultural goods", which means that lakes, pools and other water reservoirs will not be able to be let by local public authorities. When the current contracts of leasing such facilities expire, they will only be allocated for use, and the right of owning them will be ruled out from the contents of the respective relations.
The maximum term of lease has been fixed at 30 years, although the current law provides for a 99-year term. Thus, conflicts might emerge between those who have concluded contracts for a 99-year term and who will have to revise and adjust their contracts in accordance with the new law.
Independent experts have argued that the new law will not help cope with the majority of current problems, since they are rooted not in the lack of administrative leverage but rather in the lack of investments, financial resources and assets and the inability of state policy to revive the production and exports of agricultural products.
Law on the Amendment and Completion of Certain Legislative Acts Regulating the Activity of the Centre for Fighting Economic Crime and Corruption
The law confers the Centre extended powers, which will considerably strengthen its position in the system of law enforcement bodies. The changes refer to the fiscal administration, the fighting of money laundering, criminal expertise, remuneration of the employees of the Centre etc.
The level of remuneration of the employees of the Centre is reportedly so high as it arises the envy of other categories of public officers; even some of the technical personnel are remunerated better than ministers, while the monthly wage of the leaders of the Centre is much higher than that of the prime minister and the chairperson of the Parliament.
Law on the Amendment of the Law on Civil Aviation
According to the suggested changes, the following notions were defined more specifically: "air operator", "international airport", "air operator authorisation" etc.
The law includes a new article, which enumerates around 10 actions to be regarded as minor offences in the field of civil aviation.
Code of Civil Procedure
The Parliament adopted integrally the new Code of Civil Procedure, which is to enter into force by 12 June 2003 when the re-organisation of the judicial system of Moldova should become effective pursuant to constitutional provisions.
Law on the Application of the New Code of Criminal procedure
The law determined the transition periods and the method of application of the new regulations in these periods.
The law also provides that where judges have proceeded with investigating a case, and are moved to a different body as a result of the re-organisation, they will retain they previous competence and conclude the investigation of cases underway. Since until 12 June there is very little time, it is obvious that the institutes provided for under the new code would not be established, which will make its application difficult.
Law on the Modification of the Criminal Code
Although not yet in force, the new Code has already undergone a number of changes and additions. Notably, these have been suggested by practitioners and citizens after the newly adopted code has been subjected to their scrutiny.
Law on the Amendment and Completion of the Law on Administrative Courts
Through these changes, the Law on Administrative Courts has been brought into line with the relevant constitutional provisions, other legislation related to the reform of judicial bodies, as well as the new legislation on local public administration.
Law on the Amendment and Completion of the Law on the Status of Refugees
This law provides for moving the General Department for Refugees from the subordination of the Ministry of Justice to that of the Department for Migration. The latter will now be responsible not only for the keeping the record of migrants, but also for determining the status of refugee for individuals escaping a real or imminent danger in their country of stay.
Law on the Ratification of the Constitution of the International Organisation for Migration
By ratifying this law, Moldova will become full-fledged member of IOM. By joining the IOM, Moldova hopes to receive financial and technical means to set up a system of record keeping and control of migration flows.
Changes of personnel
In connection with the reorganisation of the National Tourism Agency, Mrs Axenova Natalia was released from the position of Deputy general Director of this body.
According to Government decision of 21 May 2003, which modified the decision on the method of payment of indexed amounts of the bank deposits of the Moldovan citizens with the Bank of Savings, liable to the indexation procedure will be the citizens born prior to 1925. The age category has been extended since the number of requests to index the deposits has been smaller than it was initially thought. According to the preliminary calculations of the Bank of Savings, the first age category is to receive for the first one thousand rubles an overall 29.6 million lei. The requests for indexation submitted by 12 May accounted for 10.9 million let, which was only 25.4% of the funds provided for in the 2003 budget for this purpose.
With a view to evaluate and approve the programme of improving the legislative process of the Government, as well as to adjust the national legislation to the international and European Union standards, the Co-ordinating Council on improving the legislative framework was established as a permanent consultative body on 22 May 2003. The Regulation of the Council provides for its tasks, rights and organisation.
One of the most important decisions approved by the Government on the following day was the one that instituted the Implementation Unit of the World Bank Grant for Drafting the Strategy on Economic Growth and Poverty Reduction. The Unit will assist in the drafting of the strategy, organisation of tenders, record keeping of expenditure, organisation of national forums to ensure the participation of the civil society in the drafting of the strategy etc.
Another objective pursued by the Government within its programme "Economic Rebirth - the Rebirth of the Country" has envisaged the resolution of one of the thorniest issues faced by our society - the shortage of houses. Thus, the National housing Agency is to be set up soon, which is to co-ordinate and raise funds for the building, purchase, renovation, modernisation, and extension of housing space, including of that explored within the leasing system. The Regulation of the Agency refers to the framework of activity, duties organisation and the activity of the Agency. The youth are the only age category mentioned expressly in the regulation as a potential beneficiary. It follows from the reading of the Regulation that if the young are ever to benefit of housing on behalf of the state, then this will happen only on leasing terms.
President Vladimir Voronin attended the 10th Meeting of the Presidents of the Central European States in Salzburg, Austria. President Voronin met there with the President of the Czech Republic Vaclav Klaus whose support he requested in Moldova's efforts to bring the Moldovan legislation in line with the EU standards. The two Presidents stressed the need to finalise the bilateral legal basis, including the 9 draft agreements currently under negotiation, as well as another 4 agreements whose drafts have already been prepared for signature. President Voronin also met Borislav Paravac, the President of Bosnia and Herzegovina, with whom he discussed the need to intensify bilateral relations and consolidate them within the Stability Pact. Given that Bosnia and Herzegovina is now holding the chairmanship of the Co-operation Process in the South Eastern Europe, President Voronin asked this country to support Moldova's joining of this regional arrangement. President Voronin also met Alfred Moisiu, the President of the Republic of Albania, and the two agreed to extend the existing legal basis for co-operation, which at present consists of two bilateral agreements.
On this occasion, of the first sitting in Chisinau of the Permanent Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), President Voronin met Piter Shieder, Chairman of PACE. During the meeting the European official put forward a number of objections with regard to the freedom of press in the Republic of Moldova, as well as with regard to a number of irregularities committed during the electoral campaign this May. In reply, Voronin said that while more than 40 newspapers are being published in Moldova at present, "of which more than a half are published in an unhindered way by various parties and socio-political movements and only one by the ruling party", there can be no talk of restricting the freedom of expression. Otherwise, this has been also stated by Victor Stepaniuc, the leader of the parliamentary faction of communists, who said, "the opposition has at least 24 newspapers and 170 radio and TV stations, all of which are anti-governmental". Having heard this statement, some representatives of the opposition ironically asked themselves if the leader of the communist faction also referred to "Animal Planet" or "Fox kids".
As for the alleged prosecution of some electoral contestants, the head of state said that the files of some representatives of the political opposition "were opened long before the electoral campaign began, and the exercise of justice could not have been suspended during elections".
II. Foreign affairs
The meeting of the Committee for EU-Moldova Parliamentary Co-operation was held, which discussed the evolution of the political situation in Moldova and the status of negotiations in the process of the Transdnistrian conflict resolution.
On 20 May 2003, the bureau of the National Committee for European Integration was convoked. During this meeting the Prime Minister Vasile Tarlev requested to finalise the Conception of European Integration of the Republic of Moldova by 12 June, although according to the provisions of the Government Plan of Activity for the fist semester of 2003, this paper should have been drafted by 14 March and then promulgated by the President by 9 May, Europe Day. The failure to meet the deadline might have a number of explanations, including the busy agenda of the state institutions, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs related to the preparations for taking over the chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, the organisation of the local elections, the unrealistic assessment of the complexity and difficulty of adopting such an important document, or simply the neglect of this process, which was announced to be of maximum importance for our state. The meeting also discussed the need to create a Department for European Integration under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Moldova.
On 27 May 2003, in Chisinau, the meeting of the Standing Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe took place during which President Voronin said that Moldova, which is the Chair of the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers, will guarantee that all democratic values and European norms are respected in all COE Member States. Voronin also said that the Republic of Moldova could serve others as an example of a county that abided by its commitments towards the Council of Europe. Mr Voronin mentioned more than 20 laws and draft laws developed by COE recommendations and norms, as well as the translation into life of the COE recommendations on the civil, criminal, criminal procedure codes and the Law on the Prosecution. The Speaker Eugenia Ostapciuc mentioned that in accordance with the COE recommendations, amendments have been passed to the laws on parties, public administration, Electoral Code etc. It is to be noted however, that the COE has never recommended the provision for annual re-registration of parties based on a minimum number of members, or requested the reversal of the territorial administrative reform. Instead, the COE has repeatedly called upon the leaders in Chisinau not to bar the Braghis Alliance (the Social Democratic Alliance) initiative to hold a legislative referendum on changing the electoral system.
The meeting also touched upon topics related to the local elections, with regard to which the President declared that "all the democratic principles have been respected, and the electoral contestants have not made any complaints", the Transdnistrian conflict, the European orientation of the Moldovan foreign policy.
III. Studies, analyses, comments
1. Political style
by Igor Botan
The behaviour of the Moldovan authorities during the recent local elections has created a good occasion to talk about the emergence of a distinct political style of the representatives of our ruling party.
Until now, the features of the political style of the current government, i.e. their manner of being, acting and behaving manifested to a certain degree only in the field of foreign policy. That style was could be summed up by one of our President's statements: "Moldova will be wherever it has interests". In practice, this slogan was translated in the Moldovan leaders' option for simultaneous membership of the Community of Independent States, the Russia-Belarus Union, the Eurasian Customs Union, the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe, the European Union (EU) etc. without specifying the priorities.
Lately, it has become obvious that the Moldovan authorities indulge into a very similar behaviour when it comes to domestic policies, and the recent local elections have shown that the same is true for their ideological stance. A number of curious developments have occurred as a result, which simply cannot be overlooked.
Indeed, one can observe that the tenet "to be everywhere where we might have an interest" has been extended (consciously or not) to the electoral offer of the Communist Party of Moldova (CPM) in the local elections of 25 May 2003, which starts in the following way: "The Communist Party of Moldova is the party of the people" …
Here we have come to the first curiosity, which is the fact that an objective written into the electoral manifesto of the CPM goes much farther than the one written into the political programme of the CPM, as it was adopted at the Party Congress of 22 April 2001, and which starts as humbly as this: "The Communist Party of Moldova is the party of the working class, peasants and intellectuals".
What could it mean that the CPM declares itself the "party of the people"? Probably, one thing - the right to speak on behalf of the people. At least, there can be no other rationale behind such claim. Certainly, upon a closer examination of Articles 2(2), 5(2), 41, 77 of the Moldovan Constitution, a number a questions arise. However, after in 2001 Constitutional Court refused to adjudicate on whether the President of the State can at the same time be a party leader, there appears to be no way one can determine whether the party led by the President of Moldova is in the position to declare itself "party of the people", given all the associated consequences.
There seems to have existed another factor that has prompted the "party of the people" claim. In the 2001 parliamentary elections, the CPM received 50.07% of the valid votes, and it could be that the 0.07% over the limit of absolute majority has encouraged the CPM leaders to make such claims. If this was really so, then the second curious thing is that in the recent local elections, both at the district level and at the level of village and town councils, the CPM received less than 50% of votes. This, however, is not likely to influence in any way the behaviour of the ruling party.
The first sign of CPM pretence to "the party of the people" could be the fact that the President of Moldova got directly involved in the electoral campaign, and made extensive agitation for the CPM candidates. A second sign could be the fact that the state mass media, electronic and written, electioneered overtly for the CPM, despite the fact that the Electoral Code includes specific restrictions in this sense, whose violation has been noted in the report of the OSCE and Council of Europe Observation Mission. Another curious thing has been the authorities' bewilderment at the fact that one can regard as abnormal that a TV channel owned by the state campaigns for the "party of the people". The third manifestation of this phenomenon consists in the ideological expansion that the CPM pursues in an effort to represent new social groups and even classes. Thus, the CPM pretends that at present it represents not only the workers, peasants and intellectuals, but also the businessmen, farmers, or, put in Marxist terms, all those who make up the bourgeoisie.
The latest novelty in the behaviour of the CPM seems to have been inspired from the "theory of the three representations" of the Chinese Communist Party. This can partly explain the frequent contacts registered lately between the Moldovan and the Chinese dignitaries. However, one is inclined to believe that it is not simply about "theoretical borrowings". These "borrowings" are destined to justify a state of affairs, which is that the communist elite or the members of their families have long been part of social groups that are ideologically opposed to those sharing the Marxist-Leninist theories.
Thus, we can notice that it is logical for the strategy of "interests wherever" to be promoted by a "party of the people". The Moldovan realities show certain inertia in changing mentalities and attitudes of a major part of the Moldovan population. This inertia is determined by the overwhelming poverty that has struck Moldova in the so-called transition period, but also by the lack of any clear prospects for a better future. As a consequence, citizens vote massively for the party that promotes the ideology of the immediate past - communism. The vote of this majority legitimates the power of the government. It is observable that the communist materialists know very well the laws of conservation and transformation of energy. Indeed, why would the force of inertia not be used to throw the CPM onto a modernist political wave? In consequence, the response of the CPM shows in their new promises to raise wages and pensions, launch new programmes of social assistance and the like. The opposition acts in competition with the CPM claiming that there are not so many financial sources to feed nostalgic expectations and cover the new social programmes and it loses.
Beyond doubt, in the CPM there are enough pragmatic people who would not like to see their future undermined because of counting on an ideology of the past. The international political and economic circumstances, as well as the interests of this pragmatic governing elite determines it to carry forward such strategic objectives as the liberalisation of the economy, the promotion of the privatisation of the state property etc. This is the new wave that the CPM wants to catch in order to have access to foreign loans and to attract foreign investments etc. Certainly, these things might seriously undermine the ideological foundations of the CPM. That is why, the inspiration from the Chinese experience serves as a protection shield against the dogmatic ones. Thus, to achieve its "interests wherever" the CPM continues to maintain the monopoly over the communist ideas, and at the same time expands its political discourse by speculating with liberal values. It is only natural for this to happen in a country where more than 70% of GDP accounts for the private sector.
The recent local elections have shed light on how the CPM propaganda puts into practice the said strategy, trying to capture the interests of all social groups in Moldova.
The CPM has not hesitated to embrace practically all the ideas which might have a certain weight in the Moldovan society, regardless of whether these have any resonance with their declared ideological principles. Thus, the CPM has stepped forward as the sole European integrator of the Republic of Moldova, and has accused the rest of the Moldovan political forces that in the 10 years of Moldova's independence, apart from the pro-European phraseology, they have not done anything serious to take Moldova closer to integration into the EU. Of course, the CPM propaganda people pretend to forget that the CPM, which had the largest and most influential faction in the previous Parliament, harshly opposed the very reforms that were essential to brining Moldova closer to the EU standards. They also pretend to have forgotten that two years ago, immediately after their victory in the 2001 parliamentary elections, the CPM leaders showed ready to turn Moldova into a "European Cuba" if the West had tried to hinder in any way their intention to restore communism in Moldova. They are as forgetful of the fact that two years ago the new elect communist authorities hesitated to join the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe (SPSEE) on the grounds that the "barrels of NATO tanks" are hidden in SPSEE's backyard. Now they demand the EU institutions to treat Moldova as a South Eastern European State in order to catch an eventual third wave of EU enlargement to the Balkans. At the same, during the electoral campaign, the Speaker of Parliament Eugenia Ostapciuc announced that the CPM has not given up the idea to integrate into the Russia-Belarus Union. The CPM might have adopted the pro-European rhetoric, but it is not ready to give up the monopoly of the idea of Eurasian integration either. Looked through the prism of "interests wherever", it is probably only natural for them to act so. For the time being, it is not known how circumstances might change.
Another field whereupon the CPM has extended its influence is the religious one. Odd things have happened here. Experts have qualified to sheer propaganda the brining of the Sacred Flame from Jerusalem on Easter eve at the proposal of President Voronin. This can be easily demonstrated, given that the task to bring the flame has been assigned to the Minister of Transports and Communications Vasile Zgardan, who is also the CPM candidate for the position of General Mayor of the Chisinau Municipality. What happened later, though, was in the view of many experts completely extraordinary. During the religious procession on the night of Resurrection, the Head of the Moldovan Metropolitan Church passed the Sacred Flame over to President Voronin, who then passed it on to other high church figures and believers. This happened in conditions when President Voronin had confessed in a TV show that he was not a believer. For many Moldovan citizens the religious rituals are nothing more than simple expressions of traditions. Yet, for the true believers the passing of the sacred flame through the hands of a non-believer may be interpreted as a discontinuity in the transmission of the Holy Grace. All the more so as the President is the leader of a political party, which shares the Marxist-Leninist theories that claim that "religion is opium for the people".
This expansion of the CPM over to the Christian values has been evident in the campaign, promoted also at the proposal of President Voronin in the state media, to collect funds for the restoration of the Monastery of Capriana, the symbol of Orthodox Faith. It is probably no accident that the televised marathon for the collection of funds was organised on the international day of museums. This move would have supposedly satisfied both the Christian Orthodox, who put a religious meaning in the action, and the Communist orthodox, who saw the action as one intended to recover an architectural monument. The important thing is for the "shepherd to keep control of its flock".
What conclusions could be drawn from this omnipresent behaviour of the representatives of the ruling party? First of all, it is obvious that the political and ideological eclecticism practised by them is intended to consolidate the power of the current ruling party and open up new opportunities for expanding its electoral basis according to circumstances. Secondly, the results of local elections have demonstrated that the level of civic, political and religious consciousness of the majority of Moldovans to a certain extent favours such behaviour. The weakness of the fragmented opposition is yet another factor that allows the ruling party to create havoc on the former's "electoral fields". Thirdly, it has been observed that practically all initiatives in the social (the legislation on veterans, pension and wage rises etc), political (European integration, the attempts to improve relations with international creditors) and ideological (the rebirth of the orthodox spirituality) fields are attributed exclusively to President Voronin. It has been observed that President Voronin, in his turn, often likes to appear as a tough prosecutor and a merciful judge, as when he accuses publicly the members of Government of being thieves and corrupted (the former Governor of Gagauz Yeri autonomy, the former minister and current deputy minister of economy, the former minister of transports) forcing them to quit, and then offers them, as compensation, posts of ambassador and other high positions. Obviously, one can talk about the need to set up in the Republic of Moldova the institution of "scapegoats".
These very practices were invoked when the campaign of denigration of some candidates in the recent local elections was launched, including the current mayor of Chisinau who was accused publicly by the state media of corruption and mafia activities. Such accusations could be true, all the more so as Moldova has the reputation of the most corrupt state in Europe. However, when it comes to the involvement of the state media, arguments and evidences should precede accusations. As suspicious is the frequency of court cases opened up during the period of the electoral campaign. Also, it is strange that those supposedly corrupt are only sought among the ranks of the political opponents of the ruling party, despite the cases, otherwise confirmed by the Court of Accounts, of notorious figures from the ruling party and even Government being involved in corruption scandals. The proponents of such practices say that they are necessary to build the "vertical axis of state power". If one adds to these the fact that over the past two years the legal experts have constantly warned that the Moldovan judicial system is being deprived of its self-management mechanisms and is subject to the control of the executive, what results is the complete set of defining features of an authoritarian style of government. Such a style tends to stress the supremacy of the will of the leader, including through the suppression of the will of those who might be of a different opinion.
When the political message becomes confuse, and the ideological foundations are demolished, the authoritarian style becomes the last resort in the fight for holding on to power. It was probably for this that the "vertical axis of power" needed to be built so that it can then be used to achieve the "interests wherever".
Although things do not look very optimistic, there are still chances for President Voronin to use his authority to get the CPM to accept the pro-European orientation. The practices that the CPM has used in the recent electoral campaign have marked a clear distancing from the European values and a step backwards in terms of democracy, as mentioned in the OSCE and Council of Europe observation report. Differently put, European integration requires progress both in the economic and in the democratic development fields. Giving up the abusive practices would be a first sign that the pro-European option is a determinant one for Moldova. In this sense, the CPM could find more common points with the opposition parties, most of which are seeking the same aim of European integration.
Otherwise, the ruling party risks going through challenges that might bring down its high rating. Firstly, the recent visit of World Bank representatives to Moldova has demonstrated that the social programmes, including the promises made by the current minister of transports and candidate for Chisinau mayor, are only an obstacle to lifting the blockade of foreign funding and restructuring Moldova's foreign debt. Secondly, the Moldovan authorities have been getting ever more insistent demands from Moldova Gaz and RED-Nord (electricity distribution network) to increase prices on gas and electricity to avoid the losses incurred by the two enterprises. Thirdly, it seems that, unfortunately, the agricultural year 2003 has been partly compromised due to unfavourable weather conditions. At last, the Government will need considerable financial means to cover the expenditure related to the reversal of the local public administration reform. These factors taken together create new challenges for the fulfilment of the current government's promises that have raised the expectations of people related to the improvement of their living standards. If one adds to these the stalemate to which the Commission for Drafting the new federal Constitution has arrived, one can expect that the government will not be able to handle things without the minimal co-operation and understanding on behalf of the opposition.
It appears that whatever the government does, there is no alternative to the democratisation of the Moldovan society. In circumstances of an eventual crisis in our relations with the international institutions, the option of changing the pro-European rhetoric with a pro-Eastern one (as Lukashenko and Kuchma did) does not seem an appropriate one. The pro-Eastern direction could bring advantage only to the main political opponent of President Voronin, the leader of the secessionist regime in Transdnistria, Igor Smirnov.
2. The Notary according to the new Law on Notaries
by Galina Bostan
On 8 November 2002, the Parliament of the Republic of Moldova adopted a new Law on Notaries. What makes the new law different from the old one, from the conceptual point of view, is that it reverts to the state-run system of notaries. The law introduces a mixed system of notaries in Moldova: that of state notaries and that of private notaries. At the same time, notary services may be provided by people designated by relevant local public administration authorities and Moldovan diplomatic councils.
Although the new law suffers of many more flaws, at present it is interesting to look at how it is going to be applied rather than how it can be substantially changed.
Without going into too much detail about the new law, we will refer only to those aspects that prompted its adoption. Firstly, the previous law on notaries was accused of giving too little competence to the Ministry of Justice in what concerns the control, regulation and organisation of this profession, which competence was largely exercised by the Union of Notaries. Another criticism related to the excessive costs of notary services.
According to the new law, the Ministry of Justice, as the central specialised body, has been granted a number of additional powers in licensing and supervising the activity of notaries, such as:
- Regulation and organisation of the activity of notaries;
- Developing and approving the regulation on the method of issuing notary papers, the form and contents of records of notary papers, the sample forms used to issue notary papers;
- Keeping the notary archive;
- Elaboration and approval, in common with the State Archive System, of the regulation on the method of preparation and submission of papers into the archive;
- Appointment of notaries;
- Withdrawal of notary licenses;
- Application of disciplinary sanctions;
- Developing and approving the regulation on the training of new notaries;
- Setting up the Licensing Commission for the activity of notaries;
- Developing and approving the regulation on the Licensing Commission;
- Keeping the State Register of Notaries;
- Supervising the activity of notaries;
- Establishing the number of necessary state, private and trainee notaries;
- Ensure a singe notary practice and undertake the statistic analysis of notary acts;
- Keeps a record of the successor files and issued testaments.
It is to be noted that most of these attributions used to belong to the Ministry of Justice under the old law too, yet, unfortunately, they were never applied properly, both for objective and for subjective reasons.
Since one of the key arguments for passing the new law was the excessive cost of notary services, we will refer below to these costs as they stand under the new law.
According to Article 30 of the Law on Notaries, the issue of notary papers, notary consultations, drafting of papers and providing other notary services are all for a fee. The following fees are paid for notary services:
- the state tax, which is paid by the client into the state budget;
- the fee for the notary service itself.
The value of these fees is to be indicated in the notary paper and in the register of notary acts.
As for the state tax, it is fixed by law and may not be changed. It is charged on all notary services.
As for the fee for the notary service, the Law distinguishes between services provided by state and private notaries. The latter determines independently the fees on services and the former has to determine the fees in agreement with the client, according to the relevant methodology approved by the Parliament (although there is no direct provision to such effect in the law).
The fees received by state notaries for their services are paid into the state budget, whereas those received by private notaries are to be used to cover current expenses related to the activity of the notary, such office and equipment maintenance, salaries for the technical personnel etc. Remaining is the income of the private notary that is subject to contributions into the state social insurance budget and other taxes. Private notaries are subject to tax pursuant to current fiscal legislation.
Thus in what regards the cost of services provided by private notaries, there have not been many changes.
As for the changes to the costs of services by state notaries, one can hardly judge about these at the moment for since the law entered into force in February 2003 there are no state notaries as yet.
Obviously, an important part of blame for this state of affairs belongs to the Ministry of Justice, which failed to include expenditure related to state notaries in its proposals for the 2003 Budget Law.
This mistake is to be corrected only now. Recently, the Ministry of Justice drafted a law on the completion of the 2003 Law on State Budget, whereby it has been proposed to leave 70% of state taxes paid for notary acts issued by notaries with the Ministry of Justice. This money will be used for the organisation and maintenance of offices of state notaries.
At the same time, only now makes the Ministry of Justice efforts to identify the necessary space for state notaries. Most often these are being arranged in the premises of district courts, which find it hard sometimes to find free office space.
Of course, the failure to resolve the above mentioned problems (the technical and material support of state notaries) in due time might be due to the difficult economic situation of the country. It is not the case, though, with the activity of developing relevant regulations on the notary, which activity does not require substantial financial efforts from the Ministry of Justice. Nonetheless, the latter has recently concluded the sample Nomenclature of notary files, the forms of registers necessary for the notary activity, the Regulation on training of notaries, the Regulation on the Licensing Commission of notary activity, the draft Regulation on the method of filling out the notary acts, which sets a singe notary practice for all notaries.
By now the personal files of practising notaries have already been checked. The list of licensed notaries has already been published in the Government's Official Monitor (article 88 of the Law on Notaries). A computerised programme of record keeping of successor files and testaments is to be developed soon.
At the same time, a Plan of Action has been developed, which provides the concrete terms of undertaking certain measures, to facilitate the application of the new law.
On 19 April 2003 the general meeting of notaries was held, during which the participants elected from among themselves the Licensing Commission and the Group of Control of Notary Activity.
A separate issue that the Ministry of Justice has always faced and which has exacerbated now is the shortage of personnel in the ministry's department on notaries and lawyers. To address this problem, the Government developed a draft Decision which proposes to set up a special structure for the notary and lawyers, stuffed appropriately. Unfortunately, the Ministry of Finances rejected the financial support for setting up the Department on Notaries and Lawyers.
Indeed, the application of the new Law on Notaries has revealed much more issues than mentioned here. Their resolution (in financial terms mostly) is the price that the ordinary tax payer will have to pay to enjoy the services of state notaries.