On 13th September 2016, a draft bill regarding the Polish Geological Survey was published (“Draft Bill”). The primary objective of the new legislation is to create a Polish Geological Survey (“PGS”, in Polish: Polska Służba Geologiczna) a new executive agency, which will be responsible for ensuring effective implementation of national geological policy. Below is a summary of the most important provisions of the Draft Bill.
1. According to the Draft Bill, the current tasks of the geological survey which are performed by the Polish Geological Institute – National Research Institute (“PGI-NRI”) will be taken over by the PGS.
2. The executive organ of the PGS will be its President, who shall be elected for a five-year term of office by the minister of the environment. The Draft Bill does not specify the location of the PGS’s seat, nor the location of its local branches.
3. In addition to taking over the existing competences of the PGI-NRI, the PGS has been endowed with new powers, the most important of which include:
a) conducting inspections of activities carried out pursuant to the Geological and Mining Law, including inspecting the legality of performed geological operations;
b) reviewing the correctness of exploitation fee calculations;
c) verifying geological information valuations;
d) issuing opinions in proceedings concerning the approval of geological documentation;
e) performing land reclamation functions in respect of properties belonging to the State Treasury, local government units and other state institutions (where excavations were performed in the absence of a valid concession), if it is impossible to determine the responsible entity.
4. PGS will be entitled, upon having received the consent of the minister of the environment, to incorporate commercial companies and to acquire shares in such companies.
5. In the case of companies in which PGS holds shares, it will have a pre-emption right with respect to the acquisition of shares.
6. The Draft Bill provides for the creation of a Geological Guard – a national uniformed and armed unit whose primary purpose shall be to combat violations of the Geological and Mining Law. The main powers of the Geological Guard shall include inter alia:
a) the right to stop and inspect means of transportation;
b) the right to search premises and other places, in the event where a reasonable suspicion exists that a criminal offence has been committed;
c) the right to apprehend individuals caught while committing a criminal offence;
d) conducting investigations as a public prosecutor, and imposing fines and penalties;
e) the right to carry firearms, handcuffs and truncheons;
f) the possibility to use reasonable force and, in justified cases stipulated by law, also firearms.
7. PGS will manage its own financial affairs and its main sources of revenue will consist of:
a) income from fees payable for it issuing opinions during proceedings to approve geological documentation (from PLN 200.00 to PLN 5,000.00);
b) income from exploitation fees (35% of the exploitation fee, 85% in the case of maritime areas);
c) income from disposing of a right to geological information belonging to the State Treasury.
8. The transfer of tasks and responsibilities to the PGS will be overseen by an appointed representative of the minister of the environment, who will temporarily perform the functions of the PGS’s President.
9. The planned date of entry into force of the Draft Bill is 1st January 2017.
The above comments refer to the Draft Bill as published on 13th September 2016. Please note that the Draft Bill is currently subject to public and intergovernmental consultations, which means that it may be amended prior to its introduction in Parliament.