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by Anatoly Gudim

From day to day, practice of power/business relations in our young state has been showing striking examples of a “tug of war”: first – making of decisions, later – failure to observe them and, finally, – their amendment or even revocation. Here are some of the latest ones:

·         On March 2, 2006, Parliament issued decision #40-XVII “On control of Execution of the Law on Production and Circulation of Ethyl Alcohol and Alcoholic Products”. As it turned out, this Law (issued on June 30, 2003, i.e. more than 5 years ago (!) ), “is not observed by central government bodies and economic units”; “state register of circulation of ethyl alcohol and alcoholic products was not approved and implemented”; “there is a lot of counterfeit goods within the retail trade network”, etc. And as for the whole – “goals of the Law were not achieved, following which the state’s economic interests suffer considerable prejudice”. The state suffers prejudice, while someone benefits, doesn’t it?

·         Government suggested giving up the idea to implement a countrywide automated registration system of oil products. It was 2003 already when the government decision to create such a system was made, once it had been admitted that circa 80% of combustive-lubricating materials were imported to the country through contraband. During recent parliamentary auditions, after the suggestion, Government was accused either of “lobbying of certain interests”, or “incompetence”. Feel free to choose.

·         Chisinau Mayor’s Office decided to prohibit utilization as “route taxis” of vehicles useful life of which exceeded 15 years. However, there will most likely be no prohibition, as Association of Private Carriers appealed it at the Chamber of Appeals. Their arguments are as follows: the number of such “route taxis” is little (62), and “their owners’ capabilities to renew vehicle stock is limited due to low fare”. Danger to human life and ecology don’t count as it seems.

There are tens of such examples. All they are fruits of the search – by no means Platonic – of “mutual understanding” between business and state machinery. 

Its called lobbyism indeveloped democracycountries. It appears that now, after 15 years of entering market economy, there’s no one in Moldova who would doubt that lobbying exists here, though issues of its legal regulation have not been solved yet. In the meantime, there are positive examples as well. And long-term activity of the Union of Associations of Agricultural Producers “Uniagorprotect” that has been openly and professionally consulting and promoting interests of agricultural producers confirms this. The other day both Prime Minister and Minister of Agriculture honored with their presence Union’s annual meeting (600 persons, Opera-House). 

These are single instances though. Meanwhile, our business and politics are tightly interwoven like communicating vessels: politicians in business and businessmen in politics are in everyone’s full view. That is understandable: given such a frequent change of governments (10 over the 15 years), all ministers and prime ministers can’t write memoirs indeed… Most of them are actively involved in business and don’t eagerly strive for politics at all, but would prefer to assert their interests according to the law. 

During the time of Petru Lucinschi’s presidency, an attempt to prepare such a law – “On Regulation of Lobbyism” has already been made, but, as well as all other innovations of that time (Moldova as an offshore, amnesty of out-flown capital), it came to nothing. 

In the meantime, such a law wouldn’t hurt strengthening of ethical and legal bases of our state, as well as higher transparency of its relations with business, in contrast to “favoritism”, “nepotism”, “thoughtful consideration”, etc. Experience of USA, Germany and Japan is available – we could ask for their technical aid after all… 

Given such a law, we would be able to reduce considerably the hypertrophied impact of bureaucracy upon decision-making both in legislative and executive bodies. Many things will be more comprehensible and honest once the law establishes institutes and mechanisms of lobbyism. There will be no need to guess, for instance, why a government newspaper would urge agricultural companies to deliver sunflower only to a single enterprise – “Floarea Soarelui”, or would explain peasants why processing enterprises buy their grapes and apples at distress prices. And all isolated lobby groups – patronage, union of manufacturers and entrepreneurs, foreign investors’ union and so on – will express pluralism of public interest as to the common, the most worthwhile choice under the law. 

Let us remember that the draft law «On Regulation of Lobbyism in State Bodies” deferred for better times defined lobbyism as “activity of legal and physical persons concerning state bodies with a view to exert influence upon them in execution of their authority set by the Constitution and laws of Republic of Moldova”. Well, whos against it anyway?