Boost for CSOs overshadowed by repressive media proposal
On 21st July, the Moldovan parliament adopted the "Law of the 2%", meaning that from 1st January 2017, individual taxpayers will be able to direct two percent of their income tax to a nongovernmental or religious organisation of their choice. The new rule, brought in through amendments to the Law on Associations 2014, must be put into action through implementing regulations before 21st October this year. While the two percent rule is undoubtedly a boost for local CSOs, recipients can only use donations received through this mechanism to contribute to the development of education, science, culture, sports, health, social protection and other social causes. Religious groups may only use the financial resources for social, moral, cultural or charitable activities. Funds can also be used to cover a portion of administrative expenses. The adoption of the two percent law is a significant step forward in the development of an independent civil society in Moldova; in a context where many CSOs are not financially independent and lack sufficient resources to be sustainable.
In July, representatives of the Small Business Association protested to demand the liberalisation of the environment for small business and the repeal of a law that prevents them from developing commercial activities based on patents from January 2017 onwards. In order to do so, they would have to register as legal economic entities which brings with it an increased tax burden. The protests were peaceful, and resulted in a decision by the Ministry of Economy to hold public debates on the subject, involving state institutions, civil society and academia.
On July 7th, the parliament adopted initial drafts of three amendments to the Broadcasting Code which have been criticised for limiting access to foreign media content in Moldova. Local and international organisations alike point to the risk that the law could undermine free expression and reject the premise that it is intended solely to counter foreign propaganda and misinformation. Local media organisations have called on MPs to reject the bill at its second reading.