Last week, more than 30 business associations and chambers of commerce from across Moldova presented to the government their priorities for reform outlined in the third National Business Agenda for 2012-2013. The more than 70 participants included representatives of the NBA network and its coordinating council, government officials, media, civil society, and donor organizations. The conference was attended by the Minister of Finance, Veaceslav Negruta, the Head of the Parliamentary Committee on Economy, Budget and Finance, Veaceslav Ionita, the Economic Adviser of the Prime Minister, Constanta Popescu-Mereacre, and the Head of Entrepreneurship Department at the Ministry of Economy, Cezar Ilias.
Representatives of the coordinating council presented two key priorities: reforming tax collection and customs administration. While speaking about these two problem areas, they focused mostly on explaining their 13 proposals that included specific solutions, among which were the following:
• preparation of an official interpretation of the Tax Code to eliminate arbitrary interpretation by various officials;
• clarification of specific functions of state agencies in charge of inspecting business activities;
• increasing transparency of and providing access to information in regards to all import-export transactions by publishing all customs requirements and regulations on the website of the Customs Service;
• simplification of import-export procedures through official amendments to the Customs Code rather than through internal documents that are not accessible to business; and
• creation of a one-stop shop for all customs processing.
At the same time, the conference discussions were centered on reviewing the results of the proposals from 2010 NBA which also focused on the tax and customs reform. Out of 17 proposals, two are already being implemented, three are partially implemented, while the remaining 12 proposals are still to be adopted and implemented.
To prepare the new proposals and monitor the implementation of the 2010 NBA proposals, the NBA network created separate working groups that the Institute for Development and Social Initiatives, CIPE’s partner in this program, helped facilitate and provide technical and analytical support for. What is interesting is that the working group on monitoring the 2010 NBA proposals was the most active working group with the most members (about 12) from various associations. This shows that the private sector is much more eager to see what happens with their proposals and ensure that relevant government agencies respond to their proposals and implement the proposed changes.
Igor Crapivca, head of the Business Club “Timpul” and one of the members of the network’s coordinating council, said that the private sector provides significantly higher contributions to the national budget then the inflows from the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank; therefore, the government needs to listen to the views of its business community. Since the business sector is the largest taxpayer, the government needs to provide a sound climate for economic activities. The head of the Parliamentary Committee for Economy, Budget and Finance, Viaceslav Ionita, said that starting in December 2011 the Parliament will introduce an information system through which the parliament will be able to communicate directly with the business community in regards to the economic legislation under discussion. The head of Entrepreneurship Department at the Ministry of Economy, Cezar Ilias, mentioned that at the end of December his Ministry will create a working group in charge of communication with the business community. Tatiana Lariusin, IDIS’s Senior Economist who is coordinating the NBA program together with CIPE, said that the dialogue between business and government needs to be continuous and transparent, not in the corridors of the parliament or government buildings that can be detrimental to both.
The last session of the conference focused on next steps for the NBA network and how to make the public-private dialogue more effective. The conclusions were that the network needs to disseminate more information about the working groups’ activities and the process the private sectors goes through to prepare and monitor the NBAs. When the proposals are put forward to government, the network also needs to explain the process behind the NBA proposals: how the network consulted with their business members from various associations across the country, how they conducted the analysis of the priorities, and what the discussion process was to come to consensus on the proposals and solutions. The representatives of the NBA network also agreed to launch a media campaign to ensure that there is broad public support and understanding of the reform proposals under the NBA process.