Latvia's 'green' minister against plastic bottle deposit scheme

Latvian Agriculture Minister Janis Dūklavs insisted May 8 he did not have a conflict of interest in his opposition to introducing a plastic bottle deposit system in Latvia, a scheme which already exists in many other EU countries including Estonia and Lithuania.

As well as being a minister, Dūklavs is the co-owner of the 'Piebalgas' beer brewery.

In an interview with LTV's "Morning Panorama" Dūklavs said he had never even considered the matter might be a conflict of interest said that he had never even thought of the idea that he might have a conflict of interest on this issue.

"I have not taken a decision on the deposit system," the minister added, saying any decision for or against such a system would be a collective decision.

The Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau (KNAB) is looking into whether a conflict of interest does exist, the minister admitted, after they received an application from a member of the public, but he insisted KNAB was "not interested" in the matter. Speaking to LTV, Dūklavs admitted that "KNAB itself was not interested in this, but there was already an application".

Dūklavs was widely reported, and indeed mocked, after saying recently he saw no need for a bottle deposit system as he could see no beer bottles from his window.

His stance also creates an unusual situation in which the representative of a supposedly "green" political grouping - the Greens and Farmers Union - is standing up against one of the least controversial eco-friendly policies.

The proposed deposit system could increase store proces by 15 cents, of which 10 would be returned by the buyer for the transfer of the package. With the new system, it is planned to collect 90% of glass and plastic bottles and cans for recycling.

In January 2018, coalition parties conceptually supported the introduction of a deposit deposit system in Latvia. In turn, at the beginning of April, the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development (MEPRD)  submitted the relevant draft law to the State Chancellery, only to run into opposition from the Agriculture Ministry and strong lobbying from the Federation of Latvian Food Companies, according to LTV's De facto

It is planned that the application of the deposit system in Latvia will be started from January 1, 2020.

Dūklavs is no stranger to controversy, having been a central figure in last year's "Oligarch conversations" scandal, as reported by LSM. However, he has denied any wrongdoing and ignored calls for his resignation to retain control of a key ministry.

In more positive news for Dūklavs, he was handed a certificate of thanks by the Latvian Farmers' Federation.

 

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