Economics Minister survives vote of no confidence

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Saeima on March 8 voted down a proposal, filed by the Latvian Association of Regions, to hold a vote of no confidence in Economics Minister Arvils Ašeradens (Unity).

34 MPs voted for the initiative, 48 voted against, and Janina Kursite-Pakule (National Alliance) abstained.

After a meeting with Ašeradens earlier this morning, where the minister presented his vision of lower electricity bills, Latvian Association of Regions decided to nevertheless propose Saeima to dismiss Ašeradens.

Ašeradens started the meeting with admitting past failures in introducing the mandatory purchase component (MPC), which is the part of the electricity price used to subsidize green energy producers. 

"[Introducing the MPC was] a fundamental, national, macroeconomic mistake," he said, opening the debate. 

Ašeradens is under a lot of flak as violations have been uncovered in more than a dozen 'cogeneration plants', prompting the Economics Ministry to revoke licenses. The ministry is concurrently overseeing Latvia's integration in the EU's gas market after the country opened its market on April 3, 2017. 

According to the Latvian Association of Regions, Ašeradens is essentially proposing to shift the burden of electricity costs from several major electricity consumers to onto all other consumers - thousands of small and medium-sized enterprises and residents.

The association also said it had information that the State Treasury had lent money to Augstsprieguma Tikls transmission system operator so it could buy Itera Latvija's shares in Conexus Baltic Grid, which would eventually result in higher electricity and natural gas bills for customers. "The minister had to admit that this is what will happen," the association's representatives said.

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