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Sunday 24.06.2018 | Name days: Jānis
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Ex-minister: PM asked me to be less critical of Ventspils

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Roberts Kilis

Never before have I met as many restrictions to express my personal opinion as I had during my time as the Education and Science Minister, admits former minister Roberts Kilis. He adds that he had even received a request to be less critical of Ventspils, and allocate funding for specific scientists once.

When asked about his own feelings about him being the minister, Kilis says: “It was one of the hardest and most intensive periods of my entire life. There have been a couple of times in my life that can be compared with this period. However, it was all nothing when compared with my minister’s career. Never before have I met as many restrictions to express my personal opinion as I had during my time as the Education and Science Minister. I have never experienced something quite like having other people expect me to agree on something. I have never done such things out of free will. I had to because of my post. But I do not complain. I chose this job myself and I am the one to blame.”

When asked what was this personal opinion he had to keep to himself, the ex-minister says: “It was an opinion regarding matters that comprise the everyday life of politicians, but are not always revealed to the public. Rumours often circulate about such matters, but no one really knows a thing. For example, I sometimes received phone calls from the PM in regard to the need to include additional positions in budget amendments about sport sponsoring even though the ministry had a different opinion about the need for such funding. I had also received a request from the PM to be less critical about Ventpils in some of my statements.”

“If the PM asked, I did. The PM can achieve anything with his orders. However, if other politicians asked, I did not do anything. Politicians from Unity called me by the phone prior to the submission of the budget, asking to include funding for specific scientists. This was because those people had attended Unity’s meeting and asked for money. A lot of money. When I was not a politician, I had a hunch such things were a possibility. I then learned it was, indeed, a real thing. When we held discussions with universities, I often noticed that topics that revolved around renting universities rooms dominated over topics regarding improvements of education services. I often felt as though I was a real-estate agent, not a minister,” – Kilis said.

The ex-minister also said that “if the state could openly tell teachers, police officers and doctors that their salaries would grow with time, the feeling of stability would increase in society. People would see a true perspective. However, when I offered the PM some proposals on how teachers salaries can be increased last year, he and the Finance Minister were rather sceptical about this idea, saying that it would limit the budget’s flexibility.”

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