Moldova Blocks Airport Privatization Plan

A recent amendment proposed by MP Radu Marian of the PAS party and passed by Parliament, which sought to include Chișinău International Airport on the list of non-privatizable goods, has been declared unconstitutional by the Constitutional Court (CC).

This ruling effectively prevents the extension of the lease agreement for the airport's commercial spaces from 3 to 5 years.

The CC based its decision on two key points. Firstly, the Court asserted that Parliament lacks the sole authority to designate a state asset or enterprise as non-privatizable without a prior proposal from the Government, even if the asset is deemed crucial for national security. Secondly, the Court ruled that the inclusion of Chișinău International Airport on the list of non-privatizable goods was unlawful.

"Article 13, paragraphs 4 with indices 1 and 4 with index 2, and point 26 with index 1 from the Annex to Law No. 121 of May 4, 2007, on the Administration and De-Statization of Public Property, are declared unconstitutional," stated Liuba Șova, magistrate of the CC. "This decision is final, not subject to appeal, and enters into force on the date of adoption. It will be published in the Official Gazette of the Republic of Moldova."

Parliamentarians voted on the aforementioned amendment in mid-May, with the intention of safeguarding the airport from privatisation.

The amendment also empowered the Public Property Agency to relaunch the bidding process for leasing commercial space at the Airport. The agency was granted the flexibility to implement more attractive terms to attract a wider pool of reputable companies, potentially including an extension of the lease term.

It is important to note that the two previous tenders organised to lease commercial space at Chișinău Airport were unsuccessful. The most recent tender was suspended on April 16th due to having only one applicant, Lagardere Travel Retail. However, this sole applicant failed to submit the necessary documentation required for qualification in the final stage. The Anti-Corruption Prosecution Office investigated the situation but ultimately decided to close the criminal investigation on May 17th.

Translation by Iurie Tataru

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