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President inks law to protect vineyards, slammed by AmCham
12 Feb 2014 Flash News
PRESIDENT Ivan Gašparovič signed on February 11 an amendment to the Act on the Protection and Use of Agricultural Land, which the Agriculture and Rural Development Ministry claims is primarily aimed at preventing vineyards from becoming construction sites.
It has become common practice over the past 10 years for the owners or administrators of vineyards in lucrative areas to stop looking after their plots and allow them to become overgrown and weed-infested so as to declare them suitable for construction sites a few years later, stated the Agriculture Ministry, which authored the law, as reported by the TASR newswire.
The total area covered by vineyards in Slovakia has thereby shrunk by 742 hectares over the past 12 years.
The amendment also indirectly changes the Act on Public Procurements. Smer MPs, who proposed the changes, claim that the move will remove administrative burdens, mainly for cultural institutions when procuring specific goods and services.
The American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) in Slovakia last week called on Gašparovič to veto this legislation, claiming that the bill and the Act on the Integrated Prevention and Control of Environmental Pollution were adopted by parliament in January without a proper public discussion, even though they significantly change the rules for the use of public resources.
"We view such a way of adopting laws without public access as non-transparent ... and leading to a reduction in trust throughout the entrepreneurial environment, as well as Slovakia's overall [level of attractiveness] as a destination for foreign investors," said AmCham in its letter to Gašparovič.
AmCham also cautioned that if the legal changes are introduced, they may also threaten Slovakia’s ability to draw European funds.
The law is set to come into effect on February 27.
Compiled by Michaela Terenzani from press reports
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