Natalia Chitii

Natalia Chitii

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The regulation of economic activity is applied by the state in order to reduce any potential negative effects it may have on the population and the environment. In the Republic of Moldova, economic activities, including the ones with impact on environment, are regulated by authorization - a procedure that involves issuing permits that grant the applicant a number of rights and imposes certain obligations.

The specific features of the permits are mentioned and described in detail in various special laws, depending on the environmental component to which they refer. In addition, most of them fall under the provisions of Law no. 160/2011 on regulation of entrepreneurial activity by authorization. Thus, the Classification annexed to the law mentions the list of permits, the manner of issuing / re-issuing / suspending and withdrawing the permit, the related fees as well as the principles of state control necessary for issuing the permit.

Permits in the field of environment are stipulated in several laws, depending on the category of the agent to which they relate. The classification of permits related to Law no. 160/2011 mentions a number of 17 permits in the field of environment, of which 15 are issued by the Environmental Agency and 2 by the Agency for Geology and Mineral Resources. However, these are not the only permits in the field of the environment, since the state seeks to regulate other activities with potential negative impact on the environment, which are not necessarily entrepreneurial. These are various permits granted to individuals for fishing and hunting activities, or permits issued to different entities for scientific, cultural, educational, tourist, health, aesthetic or sport purposes. Also, the process of allocating the subsoil areas for use provides for specific regulations, including the issue of various documents for carrying out activities in the field.

Obtaining of permits frequently involves certain compliance costs in line with environmental protection requirements. Currently, the classification and full estimate of such costs is carried out by authorities, as issuance fees are not based on a clear calculation methodology. For example, according to Law no. 160/2011 we deduce that the approval of fees for issuing permits is the responsibility of the Parliament, which can lead to financial losses when updates are carried out at long intervals. On the other hand, a large number of permits are granted either free of charge or on the basis of fees totally unrelated to the costs incurred by the issuing authorities in the issuance process.

This study aims to evaluate the way of establishing fees for issuing permits in the field of environment, including the ones stipulated in the Classification related to Law no. 160/2011. The aim is to identify and describe a rational mechanism for setting fees based on provisions of the current regulatory framework and the government's commitments in this respect. As a result of this analytical exercise, a series of proposals and recommendations were formulated in the study, which, when used in a systemic way, can justify the application of a reasonable level of such fees, from the perspective of covering both the effort made by authorities and the compliance costs for beneficiaries. Also, the proposed mechanism can be extended to all permits in the field of environment, taking into account that the process of issuing any such permit is based on the provision of a public service by a state authority.

The document is structured in five chapters, as follows:

Chapter I. It establishes the general framework of environmental economic instruments applied in the Republic of Moldova with emphasis on permits. In addition, Chapter I presents the concept of regulating entrepreneurial activity and the vision of the state in the field.

Chapter II. It analyses the conceptual framework of the costs needed for regulating entrepreneurial activity. This chapter presents the classification of regulatory costs as well as models for calculating the fees for issuing permits. In addition, the Standard Cost Model for the evaluation compliance costs of the business environment with the regulatory provisions is presented.

Chapter III. It presents the current process of issuing permits in the field of environment and establishes the optimal mechanism for determining the issuance fees. This chapter focuses on different components of the regulatory costs incurred by issuing authorities.

Chapter IV. It evaluates the current process of issuing permits that does not necessarily refer to the activity of the respective entrepreneur and are not mentioned in the Classification annexed to Law no. 160/2011. This chapter establishes the optimal mechanism for calculating fees for permits issuance.

Chapter V. It presents a number of recommendations to be pursued by authorities with competences in the field of environmental protection in order to implement a rational, balanced and fair fee setting mechanism for issuing permits.

The study presents a conceptual approach related to estimating fees for issuing permits in the field of environment, which requires an additional effort to determine the amount of the fee for each separate permit.

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Denis Cenusa, Research Assistant at the Institut für Politikwiesenschaft, Justus-Liebig Universität and Associated Expert, Think-Tank ”Expert-Grup”, conducted today, December, 2, the webinar ”Energy integration in the EU via interconnections: Moldova and the EaP” - one of six webinars that are part of online course for civil society organisations from the Eastern Partnership countries on Sectoral Accountability in the Energy Sector.

The webinars will provide a deep-dive into different topics relevant for the EaP countries - Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, Armenia, Belarus, Ukraine. Each country webinar will be adapted to the energy market and framework of the respective country and will focus on country-specific issues.

Download the Dionis Cenusa's presentation below. 

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Wednesday, 02 December 2020 11:31

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The information is available only in Romanian.

One of the main tools of the state to make the population responsible for the protection of the environment is the application of environmental taxes. Unfortunately, in the Republic of Moldova this instrument is not fully exploited, and consequently the degree of responsibility of both the population and the economic agents towards the environment is low.

Another problem in the field is the process if obtaining the permits, a process that often involves certain costs of complying with the specific requirements of environmental protection. Unfortunately, at the moment the classification and estimation of these costs is not fully done by the authorities, the release fees not being based on a clear calculation formula. Moreover, the setting of fees remains the responsibility of Parliament, which can lead to losses in the event of long-term updates.One of the main tools of the state to make the population responsible for the protection of the environment is the application of environmental taxes. Unfortunately, in the Republic of Moldova this instrument is not fully exploited, and consequently the degree of responsibility of both the population and the economic agents towards the environment is low.

The first study “Regulatory cost: How to calculate the fee for issuing permissive documents in the field of environment? presents the evaluation of the way of establishing the fees for issuing permits in the field of environment. It is aimed at identifying and exposing a rational mechanism for setting taxes based on the provisions of the current legislative framework and the Government's commitments in this regard.

The second study "Applying fiscal-budgetary instruments in solving environmental problems" aims to evaluate the efficiency of fiscal-budgetary instruments (environmental taxes and environmental expenditures for the environment) used to implement environmental policies, as well as to identify the problems which affect solving the problems in the field. Also, environmental taxes and expenditures are addressed from the perspective of the most pressing issues and analyze whether they are able to improve the state of the environment in the Republic of Moldova.

On December 8, starting at 10:00, we invite you to an online discussion (Zoom) upon these studies. Representatives of the Ministry of Agriculture, Regional Development and Environment, the Environment Agency, representatives of other specialized institutions, development partners, the community of experts and civil society are invited to the event.

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Suedia   Financed by Sweden

The Independent Think-Tank "Expert-Grup" in cooperation with the Institute for European Policies and Reforms (IPRE) organized, on Friday, November 27, 2020, the First Annual Forum on Participatory Budgeting held within the project "Inform, empower and act! Civil Society for good budgetary governance in the Republic Moldova ”, co-financed by the European Union and the Konrad Adenauer Foundation.

The event, which took place online, reflected on the opportunities and challenges of implementing the principles of budgetary participation at central and local level. The aim of the forum was to raise awareness of policy makers, local public authorities, civil society, the donor community and the media on the importance of transparency and budgetary participation, as essential conditions for ensuring the inclusion and effectiveness of the budgetary process.

In his opening remarks, Adrian Lupusor, Executive Director, Independent Think-Tank "Expert-Grup", mentioned: "The event is launched in a very important context, because at the moment the local public authorities are involved in the process of working and consultations on budgets for next year, and through this forum we want to motivate mayors to become more open with regards to the participatory concept of budgeting. The involvement of local communities in the budgetary process is crucial for ensuring an efficient management of resources and, respectively, for increasing the role of local budgets in the development processes of localities."

In his part, Adrian Ermurachi, Deputy Secretary General of the Government of the Republic of Moldova, claimed: “It is very important to consult the citizens on issues of particular importance to the community, mainly those of local interest, such as improving road infrastructure, medical services, installation of aqueduct systems, etc., as well as involvement in drafting decision making projects. Citizens 'trust in public administration is one of the fundamental aspects of democracy, and the level of citizens' involvement in decision-making processes is closely correlated with the quality of public administration and its ability to engage in a constructive dialogue with the citizens. The quality of life and the comfort of the citizen in a democratic state depends on the quality of the act of governing ”.

"The European Union encourages the promotion of an active role of citizens and civil society organizations in the Republic of Moldova in the process of monitoring reforms. The Republic of Moldova has made significant progress in establishing a legal framework for the transparency of public finances and the involvement of civil society in the budgetary process. However, there are multiple challenges in implementing these practices, especially at the local level. Providing public access to information on budgetary processes at the local level will contribute to budgetary transparency and have a positive impact on indicators of socio-economic and human development, this will also help increase competitiveness and reduce corruption ". Gintautas Baranauskas, Deputy Head of the Operations Section of the European Union Delegation to the Republic of Moldova, stated.

Stephan Malerius, Deputy Head of the Finance and Project Management Department, Konrad Foundation (KAS), Germany, considers : “Public budgets represent the basis for development. They are an essential tool that covers the needs of citizens, whether it is health, education or other relevant areas. The most important thing is to generate all potential resources and use them efficiently in order to provide public services. Here we are talking about transparency and how the Government conveys the message to the private sector and what is the effect of the social impact of these decisions. We need to focus on building a relationship of trust with citizens. Budgetary participation is one of the most democratic instruments and is connected to the mobilization of citizens through policies designed to bring efficiency. It is a great responsibility to include people in this process, because this is how the community decides how to spend public money, bringing maximum transparency”.

"The participatory budget must primarily tackle the improvement of life’s quality in the community, by encouraging citizens to get involved in defining priorities and investment objectives in the local budget. It must be an open, transparent and inclusive process through which community members can be directly involved in formulating decisions on spending priorities from the local budget ", said Tatiana Ivanicichina, State Secretary, Ministry of Finance of the Republic of Moldova.

The event was structured in two panels. During the first panel the participants discussed the strategic directions, at high level, on the current situation of transparency and openness of the budget process, recent trends in the region in terms of budgetary participation, and the strategic vision of promoting budgetary participation in the Republic of Moldova.

Igor Munteanu, Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Public Finance Control, said: "Budget transparency is a veto and accountability factor of all public institutions in a democratic state, as well as a guarantee of increasing the trust of citizens and external partners in the decision-making process. Therefore, the amplification of the mechanisms for citizen participation in this pluralistic process is a condition for the vitality of the political system and for the legitimization of the democratic process. Our commission carries out parliamentary scrutiny of the way state institutions collect financial resources and evaluate audit reports. I would like to draw some conclusions. First, performance has unfortunately not become the central criterion for the allocation of public resources and their use. The second is that the process of strategic budget planning continues to be difficult and non-transparent and decisions are often politicized and imperfect. These shortcomings that we identify hinder the good achievement of budgetary transparency and it is imperative to train the involved actors to establish a macro-financial framework as realistic as possible.

In his turn, Marian Lupu, President of the Court of Accounts, mentioned: An orderly, transparent and efficient system of tax collection and the proper use of these means is in fact the thing that underlies the state itself (...). As a representative of the Court of Accounts of the Republic of Moldova, I express a firm institutional position in support of this initiative and announce our full openness to participate in these processes together with other colleagues from the Central, Local Public Administration and Civil Society representatives.

During the the second panel, discussions took place at the level of experts, based on the statements and opinions from the first panel. Discussions focused on existing constraints and practical approaches to overcoming constraints affecting the promotion of budget participation at central and local level.

Elena Pereu, Deputy Mayor of Straseni City, said: “Our mayor's office has always opted for participatory budgeting of citizens. Any draft budget, annual development plan, local political document is developed with the participation and consultation of citizens. In the permanent agenda of the authorities are included the meetings with citiziens from all across the area and neighborhood, before starting any project. We mention that we have a Regulation with the financial participation of the citizens in projects from the locality, and 70% is the sum of the contributing citizens and 30 from the local budget. We have also signed a collaboration agreement with local public associations, for a better collaboration. Due to the support of the project, the Local Coalition was created and the Memorandum of Cooperation was signed. All the activities within the project strengthen the capacity of local public authorities for better governance, which is focused on the needs and interests of citizens ”.

"The city of Cahul was the first locality in the country whose authorities in 2007, at our initiative, of the civil society, approved a percentage of the local budget for project competition (...). A budget participation regulation was approved by the Council last year. For the 2020 budget, we set aside one million lei and we had up to 14 projects that are now being implemented. For 2021, we have planned about 1.3 million lei and to date we already have over 30 projects with budgets of up to 100,000 lei ", mentioned Nicolae Dandis, Mayor of Cahul Municipality.

Giovanni Allegretti, Senior Research Fellow, CSS (Center for Social Studies) - University of Coimbra, Portugal, stated: “It is important to emphasize the need to expand Local Coalitions from the local to the national level. In a society we need more coalitions because there are various important topics. Portugal has taken an important step towards participatory budgeting. Projects related to participatory budgeting have been implemented in two regions, first one is related projects related to participatory budgeting in schools and the second is related to the general state budget. But it is important to mention that the focus is on the young generation and one of the reasons is that since 2014 a network of mayors has been created, which actively deals with budget participation. They show the state that they are becoming more transparent and ask the state to do similar things at regional and local level. Such a model could be implemented in the Republic of Moldova as well”.

Please find here the video registration of the Annual Forum for Participatory Budgeting.

The project ”Inform, Empower and Act! .Civil society for good budgetary governance in the Republic of Moldova” implemented by „Expert-Grup” Independent Think-Tank as lead partener in consortium with the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung Foundation e.V. (KAS, Germany), the Institute for European Policies and Reforms (IPRE) and the Eastern European Studies Center (EESC) from Vilnius, Lithuania. The project is implemented with the financial support provided by the European Union and Konrad Adenauer Stiftung e.V.

Donor: Soros Foundation Moldova.

Implementation period: September, 2020 – August, 2022 (24 months).

About project: The project scope is to increase the level of information, awareness and capacities of young professionals and decision makers about the phenomenon of corruption and measures to diminish corruption risks and consequences in all economic sectors, by means of an academic certification course integrated into the curriculum of the Academy of Economic Studies of Moldova and open to young professionals from the public sector, financial sector and board members of the state-owned enterprises. Having in mind the sustainability of this project, the previous experience has shown that young professionals are the most interested in a certification course. These beneficiaries are more likely to be able to mobilize resources either institutionally or individually, and the long-term impact on the governance and promotion of anti-corruption practices is higher for young professionals, who at this stage of their career are generators of change. 

The project goal: The project goal is to increase the level of information, awareness and capacities of I) public servants, II) financial sector employees III) State Owned Enterprises board members, IV) activists and journalists about the risks of corruption and measures to diminish corruption. 

Project impact: The achieved project objectives are intended to deliver a 3-staged impact: 

I. Information and empowerment (short-term impact). The project will increase the level of information of public servants, financial sector young professionals and board members of the state-owned enterprises who participate in the course. It will also equip them with knowledge and tools to fight corruption in their current or future professional career. 

II. Action (medium-term). After graduation, the informed and empowered participants will take proper actions to fight corruption and prevent corruption risks (e.g. will be able to organize the procurement process in public institutions or firms, in line with the anticorruption requirements; will organize the corporate governance structures in the departments/institutions they will be running in accordance to the anticorruption principles; will conduct research projects on anti-corruption and money laundering issues; etc.). 

III. Lower corruption (long-term). Informed and empowered young professionals that are able to act and prevent or fight corruption will downsize this phenomenon over time, freeing up Moldova from one of the most pressing development constraints. 

The outcome of the second round of the presidential election on Sunday 14 November saw the victory of Maia Sandu as the 6th president of Moldova, who is also the first female president of the country. 

More than 1.6 million voters have opted for a change of the president. The runoff attracted the highest number of voters in the country’s history since independence, both within the country and abroad – 1.650.131 and 260.079 voters respectively. Despite the pandemic, the turnout in the runoff was only about 1% lower than in the 2016 presidential elections - 53.3%. Thus, the former Prime Minister Maia Sandu has overcome both for the 2016 defeat in the previous presidential elections, and the 2019 no-confidence vote staged by the Socialists to end her short-lived government.                   

The difference between Sandu and the incumbent president Igor Dodon was of more than 200.000 votes. She gained around 941.000 votes (around 57.7%), while Dodon received around 690.000 votes (around 42.2%). The biggest contributor to this outcome is the voters in the diaspora. They came in more significant numbers than in the first round (beyond 260.000 compared to around 150.000). Concomitantly, the voters from the Transnistrian region has doubled their presence establishing another record for the country – more than 30.000 voters. 

An avid chess player, Igor Dodon miscalculated the movements, discounting too early the diaspora that incentivized many voters at home. The rampant discourse adopted by him did not pay off and backfired against him. Sandu’s decision not to confront Dodon in a one-on-one electoral debate also saved her from additional complications. At the same time, her intense communications with the opposition, local and foreign, and Russian-speaking media has destroyed the false myths with which  Dodon’s disinformation campaign attempted to inoculate in public. This way, the allegations that Sandu wants to eradicate the Russian language or destroy the relations with Russia lost traction. Consequently, the voters of the losing candidates from the first round channelled more to Sandu than to Dodon. It is also true that some categories of voters have mobilized against Dodon and voting the less evil.

More than 200 irregularities occurred in the day of elections. Almost half of them were related to voter bussing from the Transnistrian region. The electoral authorities did not confirm these cases, waiting for the investigation of the police. At the same time, some Russian-speaking media close to Igor Dodon has speculated that vote-buying and organized transportation of the voters took place abroad. None of these allegations confirmed. The diaspora self-mobilized and used various means to reach the polling stations, including by helping each other. At several polling stations abroad, such as Frankfurt, London, the voting ballots (maximum 5.000 per station) was exhausted by the end of the voting time. 

The Central Electoral Commission should confirm the final results and only then the Constitutional Court will able to approve the outcome, opening the door to the presidency for Maia Sandu.

What are the scenarios to come?

Winning the presidency is just the beginning of a chain of actions that Maia Sandu, as elected president, and her Action and Solidarity Party, have to undertake to succeed a very ambitious reform agenda. Realistically speaking, the lack of political support in the executive and the parliament can weaken her mandate. The presidency will inevitably face one of three scenarios.

Crisis mode. The competences of the president are limited, and it is toothless without allies in other key-institutions. Therefore, Maia Sandu has to build partnerships in the existing parliament in order to start implementing her electoral promised while preparing the country for early elections. If she fails to build the necessary coalitions in the parliament, then tensions between the presidency and the parliament and executive will become frequent. That may spoil the high expectations from Sandu’s mandate and drag the presidency into interminable inter-institutional and political clashes. 

Cooperative mode. A favourable scenario for Sandu could be if she builds any functional coalition in the parliament (at least 51 MPs). A ‘Frankenstein coalition’ with factions formed of pro-reform and pro-EU parliamentarians, together with those who belonged to kleptocrat networks or served the pre-2019 oligarchic regimes, could become a catastrophe. However, if such a temporary coalition served to dissolve the outdated parliament, Sandu and her political allies could give approval.  

Neither, nor… Balancing between hyper-optimistic and adverse scenarios has a high probability. Sandu has a rather modest experience in foreign policy and has a mixed experience when dealing with domestic issues. Thus, having a careful approach with a strategic calculus could be the optimal path to walk. She needs to firstly consolidate her position as president and apply her most relevant competencies properly – in foreign and security policy – and only after that embark on more complicated actions involving the executive and the parliament. Her mandate will have adversaries at home in the form of Igor Dodon and the Socialists Party, and abroad if Russia will feel disrespected. The latter may happen regardless of what Sandu does. Therefore, before making radical changes in the foreign policy towards the East, she will need to put in order the relations with the West, in Brussels and with the upcoming presidency of Joe Biden in the US. 

The presidency of Maia Sandu opens up many opportunities to start a more extensive process of political reform. To this end, she should select wisely her team (which can only be her presidential staff, since she cannot appoint ministers, even for foreign policy) and not rush into decision-making over the foreign policy and security issues. Mistakes would have political consequences, translating into the voting for a new parliament. 

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