Misinterpretation Risks of Veterinary Law
21 March, 2013
Misinterpretation Risks  of Veterinary Law
Unclear paragraphs regulating veterinary issue and unreasonable penalty rates built in the upcoming new Code on Food Safety, which is elaborated at the agriculture ministry of Georgia at the moment, poses misinterpretation and corruption risks that may infringe interests of the related businesses, Association of Young Economist of Georgia (AYEG) warns.
The draft code is scheduled to be approved until the end of the underway spring session and enters into effect starting this coming fall that makes AYEG experts hurry
to hail government make the upcoming law as detailed and clear as possible so as each farmer might understand his/her responsibilities against the law. The draft code is pretty dubious at the moment laying ground to double-interpretation that may lead to unfair punishment of entrepreneurs during inspection and trigger corruption deals. “The law should insure food safety in line with European standards but not on the expense of business interests,” Giorgi Tsimintia, Chairman of AYEG said in the interview to Georgian Journal. “Let’s make the law as perfect as possible so as to make its administration easier and fair.”
The non-governmental watchdog drafted a list of the most conspicuous flaws of the food code project and sent it to agriculture ministry on purpose to take them into account prior to submitting the bill for parliamentary discussions.
According to AYEG, the draft law makes standard requirements stronger and increases penalty rates for certain diversions from the standards inadequately high while does not provide with detailed description of the standards as well as penalty payments procedures and timelines that poses risks that state inspectors may misuse with their power and fine the business unfairly or enter in corruption deals with the business like old times. For instance the requirement on obligatory information put on the labels lacks clarification that may cause double-interpretation and fining the businessmen. This scheme looks more focused on enhancing the state budget revenues through penalties rather than on prevention of the said diversions that ultimately may lead some businesses especially petty fry to bankruptcy, Tsimintia worries. For example, the fine for unregistered business operation increases from GEL 300 to GEL 500 and also bans business activity. Penalties more than triple from GEL 300 to GEL1000 for slaughtering cattle meant for meat sale without veterinary supervision. The sale of this kind of unlicensed meat envisages additional GEL 1000 in fine and banning the business activity. Tsimintia fears the small family businesses will suffer most of all specifically in case of bypassing slaughter-houses if takeing into account that the number of slaughter-houses is restricted in the country and beyond the reach to significant part of family-businesses. He believes that the ban on business activity is already the most scaring preventive remedy to business and increased penalty rates are completely redundant.
“The problem is that the old penalty rates were also preventive and when you increase rates from GEL 300 to 500 and at the same time put a ban on business operation, it looks like that you aim to increase budgetary incomes through penalties because halting business activity is already the most frightening [preventive remedy] to business,” Tsimintia said. “But the major problem is unclear standard terms and penalty payment procedures that may tempt inspectors to act according to their personal judgment and affect business. Therefore we ask government to make the new law as detailed as possible to make its administration easier and fair.”
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