The proposed amendments to the Law on Mineral Resources endanger national natural resources
CSOs, higher education institutions and experts oppose the amendments to the Law on Mineral Resources that the Government proposed for adoption at the parliamentary session scheduled for next Monday in summary proceedings, which lack transparency, have had no prior public debate and public involvement. Their reactions state that the proposed legal amendments contain major gaps in terms of protection and sustainable use of mineral resources as the most important natural resources of the state.
Today, thirty-three (33) non-governmental organizations, citizens’ associations and higher education institutions from the Civic Alliance for Advocacy and Lobbying “Clear it Up'” sent letters to the President of the Assembly Talat Xhaferi, Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs Fatmir Bitiqi, Minister of economy Kreshnik Bekteshi and the Minister of Environment and Physical Planning Naser Nuredini, to rescind the bill and redirect it to a regular procedure. They demand that the expert public and all interested citizens be involved in the process of adopting the law and be allowed to make proposals for improvements to the legal text by publicly announcing the legal amendments via the government ENER system, with two readings in the RNM Assembly and a parliamentary public hearing and public consultation hearing.
The letter warns that the amendments deeply affect the procedures for obtaining and revoking concessions for exploitation of mineral resources, removing existing obligations for permit applicants, making the procedure non-transparent and financially obscure, allowing for continued selling of national natural resources at a low price. It also expands the volume of mineral resources that will be given under concession and facilitates concessions for sand and gravel mining, instead of limiting them due to abuses so far that have destroyed many riverbeds and fertile lands.
Although the Introduction of the bill states that it is merely being harmonized with the Law on Misdemeanors, the Law on Services and the terminology for inspectors, still the letter argues that, according to the Rules of Procedure of the Assembly of RNM, the bill cannot be adopted in summary proceedings because it is extensive and complex, containing as many as 75 Articles. Additionally, that the bill cannot be adopted before the amendments to the Law on Misdemeanors are adopted, which increase the fines in the field of natural resource and environmental protection – also in parliamentary procedure, since in the future additional amendments would have to be adopted pertaining to the articles relating to fines.
The Advocacy and Lobbying Alliance “Clear it Up” warns that excessive and uncontrolled exploitation of mineral resources causes chemical pollution of water and soils, disruption of landscapes and hydrological regime, permanent devastation of arable agricultural land, loss of biodiversity and could have a serious impact on the health of the population living in the area.
The “Clear it Up” Alliance, which aims to protect natural resources through their sustainable use, believes that the Law on Mineral Resources regulates an issue of strategic interest to the state and that a broad expert and public discussion is needed to find solutions that ensure environmental protection. Hence, they are asking state institutions to adhere to the Aarhus Convention which stipulates a public hearing for the general public as a key mechanism for ensuring transparency of processes and defending public interest.
The Advocacy and Lobbying Alliance is led by the Institute of Communication Studies as part of the “Clear it Up” campaign.
You can download the requests of the Advocacy and Lobbying Alliance “Clear it Up” HERE.
Contact person: Dejan Andonov, Coordinator of the Advocacy and Lobbying Campaign Clear it Up – ; 071 317 661.
Petitioners – members of the Advocacy and Lobbying Alliance “Clear it Up” and other organizations:
1. Institute of Communication Studies
2. Green Institute
3. O2 Initiative
4. EA Zdrava kotlina (Healthy Valley) – Strumica
5. “Hans Em” Faculty of Forest Sciences, Landscape Architecture and Environmental Engineering
6. Institute of Biology at the Faculty of Natural Sciences and Mathematics
7. Eko svest (Eco-sense)
8. Front 21/42 – Environmental Law Citizens’ Association
9. Civic Initiative Ohrid SOS
10. Institute for Democracy “Societas Civilis”
11. European Policy Institute
12. Center for Economic Analyses
13. Macedonian Young Lawyers Association,
14. Florozon – Center for Environmental Democracy
15. Ecological Society Planetum – Strumica
16. Association for Democratic Initiatives – Gostivar
17. Water4changes- Global Shapers Skopje Hub
18. Citizens’ Association Eco Logic
19. Youth Education Forum
20. Center for legal research and analysis
21. NGO Green.org
22. Center for Research and Policy Making
23. Environmental Conservation Organization GVEKO
24. ZZUJS Eco life – Kavadarci
25. Association for protection of animals and the environment E.D.E.N.
26. Association for Social Innovation and Sustainable Development RADAR
27. Human rights journalists
28. Ecologists’ Movement of Macedonia
29. Community Organization EKOVITA
30. NGO Go Green
31. Youth Cultural Center – Bitola
32. NGO Eco dzvon (Eco Ring)
33. National Roma Centrum