Latvian Justice Minister Bordāns calls for dismissal of Economics Minister Nemiro

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Justice Minister Jānis Bordāns on February 6 called on Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš to dismiss his colleague, Economics Minister Ralfs Nemiro (pictured).

Bordāns - who is also one of two deputy prime ministers - believes the move is necessary after Nemiro has become embroiled in a public dispute with his own state secretary, Ēriks Eglītis.

"There were attempts to move Eglītis from the position of state secretary. It was only after he had declined the transfer proposal that information about his suspension from his post and a request for prosecution came," Bordans said in comments reported by LSM's Latvian language service.

Bordāns said that the actions of the Minister of Economy and related events around the Latvenergo utility company are not in line with the principles of good governance.

"As a deputy prime minister, the Minister of Justice advocates the rule of law and good governance, the careful and responsible management of state property, democratic government and not lobbying for narrow personal interests. Working within the same government, I cannot consent to or ignore such unethical and illegal behavior, in addition to the fact that Latvenergo AS, as the provider of strategic infrastructure, is critically important for national security." said Bordāns.

Economics Minister Ralfs Nemiro (KPV LV party) on February 5 suspended his ministry's state secretary Eriks Eglitis and asked law enforcement authorities to investigate him for alleged violations related to the supervision of the mandatory procurement component (MPC) system related to electricity tariffs, reported the LETA newswire.

The position of state secretary in a ministry is in effect the senior civil servant. 

Eglitis, however, believes that he has been suspended for his resistance to the appointment of the minister's adviser Pavels Rebenoks to the Latvenergo energy company's supervisory board.

Nemiro said he based his decision regarding Eglitis' suspension on a letter from MP Ieva Krapane (KPV LV), who chairs the parliamentary ad hoc commission investigating the MPC system. In her letter Krapane alleges violations in the supervision of the MPC system on Eglitis' part. Nemiro added that he also asked the prosecutor's office to asses whether the allegedly poor oversight of MPC has led to any damages to the state.

Krapane told LETA that she sent the Economics Ministry her letter after the ministry's state secretary ignored repeated requests for information the parliamentary ad hoc commission needed for its ongoing inquiry. 

The commission sent questions to Eglitis, but the state secretary was absent from work due to an illness. Later he asked the commission to give him more time to write his reply. With the deadline for the ad hoc commission's concluding report nearing, Krapane eventually sent Nemiro the letter complaining about Eglitis. 

Eglitis told LETA that the reason for his suspension was "interesting". "The answers were delayed, but we provided them," he said.

Eglitis added that the economics minister's decision on his suspension came just ahead of a Latvenergo shareholders' meeting at which the company's shareholders were expected to decide on the new supervisory board, with Nemiro's adviser Rebenoks named among the candidates. 

Eglitis indicated that as the holder of state-owned shares in Latvenergo, he was determined to prevent Rebenoks from being appointed to the Latvenergo supervisory board. "It is essential for the Latvenergo to have a functional supervisory board, and I was ready to form such a board," Eglitis said without revealing who he would have nominated. 

Since the meeting of Latvenergo shareholders was cancelled, the energy company's existing supervisory board carries on with its work.

Nemiro denied Eglitis' claims, saying that his suspension had nothing to do with the Latvenergo supervisory board. 

Kaspars Lore, director of the the Economics Ministry's Legal Department, has been appointed the ministry's acting secretary of state. 

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