Public forum in Chisinau: The limited capacities of decision-makers and the business environment prevent the assurance of an efficient legislative process

The limited capacity of decision makers, civil society and business associations to participate in the decision-making process, the lack of advisory boards and the lack of predictability of laws are the main shortcomings in ensuring the transparency of the legislative process and dialogue between business and authorities. These are the conclusions of the participants in the forum "Strengthening the institutional consultative process and public oversight in Moldova" organized on December 11 by the Center for Entrepreneurship and Economic Policies (CAPE).

The event aimed to discuss the mechanisms of institutional consultative dialogue and permanent public oversight for an efficient business environment in Moldova. In this regard, the representatives of business, public authorities and associations present at the forum addressed the issue of private sector participation in the decision-making process and the improvement of public-private dialogue in Parliament. The talks were moderated by Lyndon Allin, Senior Associate at Baker McKenzie Law Firm in the USA.

"We are working hard to establish lucrative mechanisms through public consultations and to raise awareness of the visions of the Moldovan business environment in this recently created consultative platform of civil society representatives in Parliament. I want the business recommendations and opinions to contribute to the proper functioning of this platform, and I hope that all actions will lead to the improvement of the business environment and the decision-making process", said Tatiana Lariushin, director of the Center for Entrepreneurship and Economic Policies.

"It is important for our organization that the provisions of the law on the transparency of the decision-making process are respected and that there are viable mechanisms for the participation of the private sector in the decision-making process. This law is one of the main reasons we are in Moldova this year", said Frank Brown, director of Anti-Corruption and Corporate Governance Center CIPE.

"It is vital to have transparency opportunities both for business and for any interested person, because otherwise, they will find other, illegal means to promote their interests. The problems for which the decision-making transparency law is not implemented is because it requires time, resources and other simple issues, such as the existence of spaces for consultations", mentioned Lyndon Allin.

And Roman Ladus, economic expert within the Economic Council, pointed out the importance of creating a new methodology for conducting consultations: „Through the Economic Council we ensure a participatory, transparent and non-discriminatory dialogue to improve the business environment. Consultations should not be done for the sake of consultations, but to come up with concrete methods to answer more questions. We need to nuance this dialogue with a methodology in which we can come up with some evidence and some estimates in order to reach solutions."

"We have mechanisms for cooperation with civil society and the private sector that require the authorities to develop those procedures that ensure information and consultation. At the local level we have the register of local acts and we intend to elaborate some instructions in order to ensure the decisional transparency. We plan to review the portal as well, but, with all these mechanisms, there are deficiencies in the process of applying the legal norms and we consider that there is still room for new tools", said Emilia Cebotari, head of the Permanent Secretariats Department, State Chancellery.

According to the forum participants, the process of public consultation on draft legislation in Parliament limits the possibility for stakeholders to present their position and make recommendations. Likewise, the limited capacities of the civil society, the associative sector and Parliament are the barriers to the efficient functioning of Parliament. In this respect, the participatory public policy-making process must become an indispensable element in the work of Parliament, which must resolve any issue through dialogue, consultation and public discussion.

"The existing regulatory framework is enough for dialogue to take place. However, the problem lies in the limited capacity of decision-makers to participate in the public consultation process, of civil society and business associations to assimilate the full volume of normative and legislative frameworks that are proposed for consultation. Thus, we aim for predictability and communication of annual plans", suggests Mila Malairau, executive director of AmCham Moldova.

"The advisory committees have not been very functional lately, but it would be an area for improvement, because some legislative initiatives can be launched during these meetings and where we can present ourselves. However, on the one hand, the insistence of the business is not found in the legislative acts, and on the other hand, the authorities hurry us to promote some normative acts motivating the need to harmonize the legislation, sometimes these acts are promoted very quickly, and this alignment with international standards also involves a lot of business costs and investments. It is welcome that the package that accompanies a draft normative act be complex, integral and accessible to all those interested. We also have to work, so that this process is more qualitative”, said Natalia Calenic, vice president of the Moldovan Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Mariana Kalughin, anti-corruption expert at Transparency International Moldova, believes in the predictability of processes to increase the transparency of the legislative process: “What we want is the predictability of processes and a greater increase in the capacity of the associative sector in decision-making. Without transparency, we cannot expect a Parliament that a citizen wants, a Parliament that demonstrates representativeness, accessibility, responsibility and efficiency. And for that we have to put pressure on the Legislature to discipline and publish all legislative programs.”

"We need to strengthen strong business companies to go into Parliament and have specialists who follow the path of a normative act and who go to deputies with concrete proposals and explain them in a legal way," recommends Eugen Datco, director of the Union of Transporters and Roads of Moldova.

And Veaceslav Ioniță, economist at IDIS “Viitorul” is of the following opinion: “The lack of discussions and haste have limited the level of transparency in the legislative process and in the development of the dialogue between the Parliament and the associative environment. We have no mechanism by which the business environment can generate, propose or promote solutions or improvements. Likewise, there must be pressure mechanisms for disciplining deputies."

"As farmers we have modest capacities to participate actively and competently in order to come up with reasoned and healthy proposals in front of the decision makers. That way it's even easier to assert yourself. Where there is transparency, there is little corruption, and where corruption is in full swing, transparency is faked”, is the opinion of Vasile Mirzenco, president of the National Federation of Farmers.