Democracy and governing in Moldova
e-journal, year VII, issue 146, 19–31 October 2009
Activity of Public Institutions
Activity of Public Institutions
1. Appointments. Dismissals
The Parliament has given green light to the resignation of PL parliamentarian Dorin Chirtoaca and declared his seat vacant.
Following members of the Permanent Bureau were elected instead of parliamentarians Vladimir Filat, Marcel Raducan and Anatol Salaru:
- Mihai Godea (PLDM);
- Ion Hadirca (PL);
- Alexandru Stoianoglo (PDM).
2. Legislative acts
Decision on setting up an investigation commission to elucidate the causes and consequences of the events that followed April 5, 2009. The commission will be made of 9 members and will be headed by PLDM Deputy Vitalie Nagaceschi. Taking part in works of the investigation commission, as decided by the commission itself, will be civil society representatives, experts and representatives of international organisations. The commission will table to the Parliament within two months a report on the findings of investigations relating to the developments after April 5, 2009.
Law on modification of the law concerning the status of Parliament member. In accordance with the amendments, parliamentarians elected as ministers will be able to keep serving as legislators in parallel for a 6-month term. Therefore, 9 parliamentarians were authorised to cumulate offices for a half-a-year term: Prime Minister Vladimir Filat; Deputy Prime Minister Iurie Leanca, minister of foreign affairs and European integration; Deputy Prime Minister Valeriu Lazar, minister of economy; Minister of Justice Alexandru Tanase; Marcel Raducan, minister of construction and regional development; Anatol Salaru, minister of transport and road infrastructure; Minister of Education Leonid Bujor; Valentina Buliga, minister of labour, social protection and family; and Health Minister Vladimir Hotineanu. PCRM legislators signalled the incompatibility of the office of parliamentarian with the function of minister and violation of the principle of separation of powers in a state, and are going to contest these amendments.
Law on modification and completion of the law concerning the procedure for electing the President of the Republic of Moldova. The amendments stipulate among others that:
- A single candidate can run for the presidential elections;
- The election procedure shall begin within two months (no deadline is set);
- 3/5 (61) parliamentarians shall attend the special sitting of the Parliament for election of president;
- The Parliament can be dissolved just once a year and the repeat dissolution is accepted 365 days after the last dissolution.
Statement concerning the rule of law and necessary actions to improve it
The Parliament notes with concern that the rule of law in the Republic of Moldova is gravely suffering of corruption and gives serious signs of political engagement. This situation is based on several shortcomings:
- Insufficient normative framework that encouraged the promotion to leading offices in law courts and judge positions on other criteria but those admitted in a democratic society based on the rule of law;
- The removal of lots of honest and qualified judges from offices in 2002–03 on political reasons and promotion of some persons loyal to the government instead;
- The negligence or selective enforcement by the Superior Council of Magistracy (CSM) of legislation which regulates the accountability of judges;
- The indifference of CSM and prosecution bodies over actions, sometimes criminal, taken by judges;
- The lack of reaction and resistance of the legal corps against intimidations and political pressures exercised by authorities;
- Unfair justice-making process and activity of the Superior Council of Magistracy, especially in terms of selecting, appointing, promoting, reprimanding judges;
- Insufficient initial qualification and continued training of magistrates;
- Inadequate material insurance of magistrates etc.
Inappropriate activity of courts made the society distrust the rule of law and seriously compromised the image of the Republic of Moldova in eyes of international community. Some actions are recommended with the purpose to remedy the situation as soon as possible, inclusively:
- Reformation and optimisation of the judiciary;
- Reformation of CSM competences;
- Complete transparency of the justice-making process and CSM activity;
- Elaboration of modern programmes on initial and continual training of magistrates;
- Making judges responsible for their decisions;
- Adequate material insurance for judges;
- CSM shall consider the accordance of offices of those who certainly unfit the competences of judge in a democratic state based on the rule of law.
Decision concerning the allocation of funds. Under the decision, 20 million lei will be allocated from the Reserve Fund to repair the Presidency and Parliament buildings. Around 80 million lei was initially demanded for this purpose, but the amount was reduced after a revision of expenses. On this occasion, Prime Minister Vladimir Filat reported that 130 million lei donated by SA "Moldtelecom" and SA "Banca de Economii" was spent on renovation of the two buildings so far. The works at the Presidency and Parliament buildings are expected to close in January and March 2010 respectively.
Decision concerning some measures to execute the law for modification of the law on Government. In connection with the approval of a new structure of central public administration, and with the opening, reorganisation or change of the name of some ministries and central administrative authorities, competences of certain central public administration authorities are transferred:
- Ministry of Transport and Road Infrastructure – competences relating to transportation area and those related to road infrastructure, formerly exercised by the Transport Agency and Ministry of Construction and Area Development respectively;
- Ministry of Youth and Sport – competences related to youth and development of physical culture and sport, formerly exercised by the Ministry of Education and Youth and Sport Agency respectively;
- Ministry of Culture and Tourism Agency – competences related to culture, book trade, cinematography and tourism, formerly exercised by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism;
- Ministry of Construction and Regional Development – competences related to regional development, formerly exercised by the Ministry of Local Public Administration;
- Ministry of Agriculture and Food Industry – competences formerly exercised by the Agro-Industrial Agency "Moldova-Vin";
- Ministry of Labour, Social Protection and Family – competences related to development of human resources, demography, labour, salary policy and labour force migration, as well as competences related to receiving and distributing humanitarian assistance, formerly exercised by the Ministry of Economy and Trade and Agency of Material Reserves, Public Procurements and Humanitarian Aid respectively;
- Ministry of Finance – competences related to public procurements formerly exercised by the Agency of Material Reserves, Public Procurements and Humanitarian Aid;
- State Chancellery – competences related to state reintegration matters and Government’s relations with local public administration authorities, formerly exercised by the Reintegration Ministry and Ministry of Local Public Administration respectively;
- The Customs Service is now coordinated by the Ministry of Finance;
- The Licensing Chamber is now controlled by the Ministry of Economy;
- The Agency "Apele Moldovei" is now controlled by the Ministry of Environment;
- The Registry Service is now subordinated to the Ministry of Justice;
- The Ministry of Justice is now founder of the State-Run State Registration Chamber.
2. Sittings. Decisions
Participation of associative sector
The Government invites civil society to jointly work out a participatory mechanism for drafting, monitoring and assessing public policies. A draft regulation concerning the procedures of holding public debates was proposed to the associative sector during a meeting between Prime Minister Vladimir Filat and representatives of nongovernmental organisations. The prime minister noted that the Government recommends a council to advise the executive, which would institutionalise cooperation between central authorities and associative sector, survey draft normative and legislative policies, and recommend actions to improve the legal framework. Civil society representatives welcomed the initiative, but sought actions to improve the registration and operation requirements for nongovernmental associations.
Sitting of CCECC College
Prime minister has attended the sitting of the Centre for Combating Economic Crimes and Corruption (CCCEC), which discussed issues related to assessment of corruption risks, methodological support provided to central public authorities in the area concerned, as well as execution of the plan for implementing the strategy on preventing and combating money laundering and financing of terrorism. While addressing the sitting, prime minister stated that the new Government has monitored its subdivisions and decided to keep CCECC as part of the governmental structure, in order to combat corruption and organised crime. Vladimir Filat noted that he has many questions regarding some situations related to CCECC activity related to the import of goods, illegal rises of tariffs, money laundering, activity of shadow firms, monopoly on meat and fish imports etc.
Sitting of the Republican extraordinary anti-epidemic Commission
An ample report concerning the current situation and actions taken to prevent the spread of A/H1N1 virus was presented during the sitting. According to available information, 132 suspects of pandemic flu were investigated in the Republic of Moldova before October 30, of them 19 patients were confirmed by laboratory tests and one died. The action plan on preventing, combating and intervening against pandemic flu approved by the Ministry of Health jointly with the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Industry, as well as the communication plan on pandemic flu are being implemented. An action plan is being implemented to improve hygiene in educational institutions. Prime minister demanded actions to protect risky groups (border guards, customs officers, doctors) in particular, and an ample campaign to inform about measures against A/H1N1 virus.
Meeting with representatives of different trade unions
During the meeting with representatives of trade unions the situation in terms of providing salary earners with leisure and treatment papers for 2009 was discussed. The situation became worse, as 62 million lei was not allocated from budget. Representatives of trade unions recommended to be revised the quota of beneficiaries of treatment papers. Prime minister promised that his cabinet will consider the possibility to allocate the requested funds and instructed minister of finance in this respect. On the other hand, prime minister assured that the Government seeks a long-term partnership with trade unions and a dialogue to resolve problems.
Action plan to remove constraints on business environment
The Ministry of Economy has worked out an action plan aimed to remove constraints on business environment, which was discussed during a sitting of the working group in charge with regulating the entrepreneurship. The plan was featured and worked out after an in-depth analysis of the multitude of constraints and problems faced by business environment. Initiatives on improving business environment in 15 areas have been drafted: construction, business start-up, licence issuance, safety of food products, state price regulation, transportation, etc. The plan enounces legislative and normative amendments aimed to prevent double controls in construction sector; revise the list of licensed activities; liberalise the export of ferrous and non-ferrous metals; reduce the VAT etc. The actions foreseen by the plan are scheduled for late 2009 – 2010, after the Government adopts it.
The new composition of the Supreme Security Council (CSS) is approved under a presidential decree. The council will be headed by chief of state, supreme commander of armed forces. The CSS members are as follows: Prime Minister Vladimir Filat; deputy chairman of the Parliament, Serafim Urechean; parliamentarian Marian Lupu; Deputy Prime Minister Iurie Leanca, minister of foreign affairs and European integration; Minister of Finance Veaceslav Negruta; Interior Minister Victor Catan; Defence Minister Vitalie Marinuta; Gheorghe Mihai, director of the Information and Security Service; Prosecutor-General Valeriu Zubco.
The Honour Order was awarded to:
- Nicolay Iliev, Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of Bulgaria to the Republic of Moldova, as his mandate in Moldova is over.
- Cesare De Montis, head of the European Commission Delegation to Moldova, as his mandate in Moldova is over.
The Order of the Republic was awarded to Aurelian Silvestru, principal of the Chisinau-based High School of Creativity and Invention "Prometeu-Prim", as he turned 60.
2. Sittings. Statements
Sitting of the Supreme Security Council (CSS)
New CSS members have discussed at the first sitting actions to combat and prevent terrorist crimes, making a direct reference to the October 14, 2009 blast in the Chisinau downtown. They heard reports by director of the Security and Information Service, Interior Minister and Prosecutor-General concerning the evolution of the ongoing inquest. A series of recommendations were tabled to competent organs to combat and prevent terrorist crimes:
- The Government was advised to update the normative framework on and actions to ensure their security;
- The Prosecutor-General’s Office will speed up the multilateral investigation of penal proceedings within this inquest;
- The Interior Ministry will conduct a complete and complex investigation of penal circumstances, in order to reveal all related factors;
- The Information and Security Service will provide the adequate information and operative support to prevent similar terrorist offences.
At the same time, CSS recommended additional measures to prevent terrorist crimes, as well as the revision of ways the security of people is ensured during large public meetings.
1. Real sector
Structural policies – "cart seems get along"…
The Ministry of Economy has worked out a plan on removing restrictions on business environment, which was discussed during a sitting of the working group in charge with regulating the entrepreneurial activity. The plan was devised and worked out by experts from the Ministry of Economy after an in-depth analysis of the multitude of constraints and problems faced by the domestic business environment. It regulates a series of concrete proposals aimed to improve the business environment in 15 areas such as construction, business start-up, licence issuance, safety of food products, state price regulation, transportation etc.
The plan also indicates necessary legislative and normative changes to combat double controls in construction sector and seeks the revision of the list of licensed activities. It recommends the suppression of the so-called mandatory permissive document such as "state trademark" from legislation for export of bottled wines. As well, seeks the liberalisation of export of ferrous and non-ferrous metals. As for the fiscal sector, it seeks a lower VAT and better VAT redemption procedures for exports. The actions foreseen by the plan are expected to be implemented in late 2009 and all 2010. The plan on removing constraints on business environment will be shortly delivered to the Government.
Cinderella of domestic economy…
The drought this year and effects of the economic crisis have certainly hit the agriculture, the sector which last spring was the hope of economy in this recession year. The recession in turn hit the demand for agricultural production both internally and externally. Both branches – crop protection and livestock – were affected at the same extent. However, while all indicators for phytotechny production were negative, the livestock sector, particularly meat production, meat industry increased by about 14 percent and milk production by about 1 percent, being the key sectors which tempered the recession in agriculture, but were however on the decline for the period concerned (by more than 10 percent).
The new Government has reconfirmed its massive support to farmers, but there are too little "revolutionary" measures addressing the agro-industrial sector in the current governing programme. Its key objectives such as ensuring the food security of the country, harmonising the national standard system or optimising the subsidising system for agriculture were generally part of the working agenda of the former government.
Of course, there are some actions worth of attention such as removing internal barriers (all obstacles specified) for export of agricultural products; or supporting access of agricultural producers to investment projects financed from European funds, by providing from state budget the amounts needed for co-funding,v which is actually an important action; extending access to irrigation services (it is already known that the Millennium Challenge Account will provide irredeemable financial assistance worth over 100 million dollars to renovate some central irrigation systems); or liberalising and developing the land market (though the programme does not specify if foreigners will be allowed to buy farm land).
So far, it is hard to affirm that Moldova has enough intellectual, financial and managerial skills to impel and promote a quick modernisation of the agriculture. The Moldovan agriculture crosses an agony period for more than a decade. This is a proof that authorities did not clearly know until now how the agriculture should look like after 15–20 years. It shall not intervene with indications and control crops, the way it has done until now. It shall find other ways to get involved.
The Government should focus on developing the infrastructure needed by agriculture – irrigation, all storing, processing, trading facilities, access to information, cooperation with agricultural producers, in order to collect more production, sell, export its production independently. In addition, the Government should think about developing the risk compensation system in agriculture.
3. Foreign trade
Exports record lowest lever ever seen…
Exports decreased by about 37 percent in the first nine months, as for statistics. Indeed, this is the low level ever seen linked to recession in Europe, key trade partners of Moldova (more than 52 percent of Moldovan exports go to Central and Western Europe). The rise pace of 19–20 percent for exports planned for this year was very optimistic. And the value of exports in 2009–2010 will probably stagnate at 1.6–1.7 billion dollars. The fall in internal and external demand and supply for exports and crediting for foreign trade, reciprocal debts for supplied goods have certainly fuelled the decline in exports.
Perhaps, authorities should think about structure and diversification of exports. Statistics reveal that textiles and items hold the largest share of more than 20 percent in Moldovan exports. Even more, many textiles are processed not finished fabrics, which are also called in lohn in economic terms. Finally, the large share of goods supplied in lohn in overall exports reveals the poor quality of Moldovan supplies.
In addition, food products, wines and cognacs hold an important share in exports. That means low value-added goods. But this is the reality and no way to change it given the economic structure. For example, about 40 percent of the economically active labour force is employed in agriculture, while this sector contributes with between 18 and 20 percent to GDP formation. Even more, profitableness in agriculture is more dependent on weather than state policies on this sector.
Perhaps, domestic managers invest too little in marketing and promoting commodities, despite the great importance of these actions. For example, the great majority of companies in Romania allocate between 5 and 10 percent of their turnover to promote their products, while surveys reveal that Moldovan businesses allocate maximum 1–3 percent of turnover for this purpose. On the other hand, Moldovan companies will face serious problems should they fail to enhance productivity and quality in future as well (managers of enterprises are directly in charge with this task, less than state authorities).
Enhancing productivity and quality shall be a strategic priority of Moldova in the immediate future, so that Chisinau authorities to be able to provide concrete evidence while negotiating a more advantageous trade system with the West. The incompatibility of Moldovan quality, certification, standardisation and conformity standards with those from EU hardens the access of Moldovan goods to the West.
1 Government’s Action Programme "European Integration: Freedom, Democracy, Welfare", www.gov.md
1. European integration
Visit of European Commission delegation to Chisinau
During October 21–23, a delegation from the European Commission led by the head of the European Commission’s Directorate for Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia, Mr. Gunnar Wiegand, was on working visit to Chisinau. While on visit, the European Commission delegation attended the first consultation meeting with the Moldovan Government on the future Association Agreement and participated in the 10th meeting of the Republic of Moldova – European Union Cooperation Committee. As well, the European Commission delegation met Justice Minister Alexandru Tanase, Deputy Prime Minister Victor Osipov, human rights experts, and others.
While discussing with Mr. Tanase, Mr. Wiegand welcomed the parliamentary commission set up to investigate the April 7 events and proposed the deployment of European experts to Chisinau to participate in the works of this commission. He also advised Moldova to speed up the reformation of the judiciary for a sooner accession to the European Union.
During talks with Mr. Osipov, Mr. Wiegand expressed the European Commission’s readiness to enhance the assistance provided for confidence-building measures between the two banks of the Dniester, by releasing a grant worth about 2 million Euros for economic projects. According to the European Commission’s representative, changing and modernising daily social and economic realities will make Moldova more attractive for people, including from the Transnistrian region.
Consultations on the Moldova-EU Association Agreement
The first round of technical consultations concerning the future Association Agreement between the Republic of Moldova and European Union took place on October 21. The sides discussed the structure of the future agreement, negotiation procedure, and composition of negotiation teams. As well, they set the timetable of negotiations, agreeing to organise the first formal negotiation round on January 12, 2010. According to Deputy Prime Minister Iurie Leanca, Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Integration, political and security matters which are the first of the three key topics of the future agreement will be tackled on January 12. The other two topics – signing a free trade agreement and liberalising visa regime with EU – will be tackled later. According to the minister, setting a concrete term for the signing of the agreement is impossible, but it will depend on promptness and involvement of all state institutions in the legislative approximation process with EU. In his turn, Mr. Wiegand confirmed that the agreement will not be signed soon, as long negotiations are required for a good accord, but the European Union stands ready to provide all necessary support to Moldova.
Note by ADEPT: Despite the EU opening over Moldova, the draft agreement proposed by Brussels does not provide any European prospect to Moldova. It does not go beyond the framework set by the new thorough agreement which the EU is now negotiating with Ukraine.
10th Meeting of the Republic of Moldova – European Union Cooperation Committee
The 10th Meeting of the Republic of Moldova – European Union Cooperation Committee was chaired by Natalia Gherman, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Integration, and Gunnar Wiegand, head of the European Commission’s Directorate for Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia. The sitting considered the results of implementation of the EU-Moldova Action Plan in the last year and agreed on the procedure of opening negotiations aimed to liberalise the visa regime and build a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area, as well as on the list of topics for EU missions in charge with assessing economic aspects and issues related to visa regime. As well, it discussed Moldova’s opportunities to attract European funds for development, particularly for road building and repairing and infrastructure development. (According to a MFAEI communique)
2. Bilateral cooperation
Republic of Moldova – Romania
Despite the governmental crisis in Bucharest, the Moldova-Romania relations revive; by turning the nice words into action. Thus, after more than a year of delay to sign the Convention on Small Border Traffic, on October 19 delegations from Foreign Ministries of Moldova and Romania opened negotiations on the convention concerned, with the convention being initialled and set for signing in November by Moldovan and Romanian premiers, during the visit of Prime Minister Filat to Bucharest. The convention will allow Moldovan citizens residing at 50 kilometres from the Moldovan-Romanian border to go to Romania at the same distance upon a small traffic permit issued free of charge for a one-year term. The permit will be further renewed depending on conduct of holder. As well, the delegations discussed issues relating to the opening of Romanian consulates in Cahul and Balti and Moldovan consulate in Iasi.
Another great achievement is the Government Emergency Ordinance No. 36/2009 on the modification of the law on citizenship, which the Chamber of Deputies approved to simplify the modality of regaining the Romanian citizenship by those who lost it for irresponsible reasons or were lifted without their consent.
Republic of Moldova – Russia
Defence Minister Vitalie Marinuta met the Russian military attache to Moldova, Major-General Leonid Azarin on October 29. After the meeting Mr. Marinuta declared Moldova’s readiness to cooperate with Russia in efforts to ensure security and enhance qualification of military.
Republic of Moldova – Ukraine
The Parliament chairman, interim President Mihai Ghimpu has met the Ukrainian Ambassador in Chisinau, Sergei Pirozhkov, and discussed ways to develop Moldovan-Ukrainian relations and long-term economic partnerships. The sides agreed that developing dialogue between the two Parliaments by setting soon a Moldova-Ukraine interparliamentary friendship group would be the first step to forward this purpose.
Republic of Moldova – China
While meeting Prime Minister Vlad Filat, the Chinese ambassador in Chisinau, Mr. Longzhuang Shi, has confirmed China’s readiness to provide a one-billion-dollar credit to Moldova to develop infrastructure projects. The release conditions will be negotiated soon. As well, the Chinese ambassador called for deepening the bilateral dialogue, noting that China has already provided office requisites worth 5 million Yuan to Moldova for its Parliament and Presidency, as well as assistance to support reforms in National Army.
Republic of Moldova – Poland
While meeting Moldova’s Parliament Chairman and interim President Mihai Ghimpu on October 21, the Polish ambassador to Moldova, Mr. Krzysztof Suprowicz, expressed Poland’s readiness to provide computers to the Parliament of Moldova and two credits: first to cover the budgetary deficit and second to develop infrastructure. The Polish ambassador expressed the support of his country to Moldova’s European bids and internal democratic reforms.
Republic of Moldova – U.S.A.
On October 29, Moldovan Prime Minister Vlad Filat and the U.S.A. ambassador in Chisinau, Mr. Asif Chaudhry, signed an agreement aimed at extending the permanent support of the U.S. Government for democratic reforms and rule of law in the Republic of Moldova. The agreement calls for extension of implementation term of the component related to the Customs Service reform within the Preliminary Country Programme of the Millennium Challenge Corporation. In particular, it aims to connect the Customs Service to the European electronic system for supervision of international cargo transport. The budget of this component is approximately 1.5 million dollars. Ambassador Asif J. Chaudhry noted that the U.S. Government will keep supporting Moldova on path of democratic reforms.
3. Multilateral cooperation
Republic of Moldova – Council of Europe
Quadripartite meeting between the Council of Europe and the European Union
The 29th quadripartite meeting between the Council of Europe and the European Union was held in Luxembourg on October 27, 2009 and tackled several issues, including latest developments in the Republic of Moldova. The participants agreed that Moldova makes progress in implementing reforms, but recalled the need for Moldova to continue to make efforts in the field of respect for human rights, democracy and the rule of law, including freedom of expression and media freedom. The participants agreed to help Moldova in these efforts by implementing the democracy-support assistance package initiated by the Council of Europe jointly with the European Commission.
The European Court of Human Rights has pronounced decisions on the following applications in the period concerned: Valeriu and Nicolae Rosca vs. Moldova and Matei and Tutunaru vs. Moldova. In the first case the Court indicated violation of the right to not be subjected to torture, and violation of the right to a fair trial in the second case. Overall damages for the two cases amount to 36,556 Euros.
Republic of Moldova – BSEC
During October 20–22, a Moldovan delegation headed by State Minister Victor Bodiu attended the works of the Meeting of the Committee of High-Ranking Functionaries of the Organisation of Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) and the Meeting of the Council of BSEC Foreign Ministers.