On October 4th, the Parliamentary Committee for Production Activities, Trade and Environment organized a hearing with the various Chambers of Commerce and Business Associations on the Law on Chambers. As it was recognized by the Chair of the Commitee, Mr. Eduard Shalsi, the time has come to draft a new Law on Chambers after the draft presented in 2016 was sent back for review by the President of the Republic. As one of key Chambers in the country, the American Chamber of Commerce clearly shared its expectations at the hearing on the law to be drafted .

The registration in the Chambers of Commerce and Business Associations by taxpayers should be on voluntary basis (as it is the case now), thus sanctioning the business’ right to choose the Chamber and/or Association it wishes to adhere to.  The obligation of the taxpayers to register against their free will in a Chamber, is not only against the above-mentioned constitutional principle of freedom of choice, but it is also a hidden tax for the business.

Chambers’ membership in the Union of Chambers should also be on voluntary basis. No transfer of any amount of fees paid by the Chambers’ members to the Union should occurr (as the previous draft-law suggested, by which the Chambers were required to tranfer 30% of the fees received to the Union).

The term Chamber of Commerce should continue to be used, as it is the case now, only for those Business Associations recognized by their counterparts in the foreign country and having a specific number of members. The discretion granted by the draft law to the Union of Chambers to be the structure endorsing the Chambers (besides the two conditions already provided for in the law) is unnecessary and can be abused as long as the law does not provide for criteria for ‘recognition’ by the Union

In any event, the law remains unenforceable and the Chambers do not play their role for as long as the government does not apply the provisions in force on the obligation of the government/parliament and other bodies issuing normative acts to conduct consultations with the business community.

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