Latviski English По-русски
Sunday 18.03.2018 | Name days: Ilona, Adelīna

Green energy millionaires fear reforms

(No Ratings Yet)

Economy Minister Daniels Pavluts

It emerges that certain forces could be plotting to call on Economy Minister Daniels Pavluts to step down. This is because the reforms he has in mind scare green energy businessmen.

The timing coincides with speculations that Reform Party (RP) could name Pavluts for the post of Riga Mayor, reports whistle-blower Pietiek.

There are quite apparent links between those allegedly willing to demand Pavluts’ resignation and those behind the “black PR” campaig against him. It appears that the parade is orchestrated by millionaires, who make huge money from green energy subsidies. Obviously, they do not want things to change.

Economy Minister as well as RP Deputy Chairs Sandra Sondore-Kukule and Edgars Rinkevics deny that the idea to nominate Pavluts as Riga Mayor is a way to retreat. They explain that also other RP ministers have come under fire due to the reforms the have intended. Threats to call for resignation have also been directed towards Roberts Kilis (Education Minister) and Edmunds Sprudzs (Environmental Protection and Regional Development Minister).

“I hear rumour, but I do not see any legitimate threats. Apart from what may be discussed in Old Riga cafes, currently no one questions the performance of Economy Minister. Neither officially, nor unofficially. Those who want to legitimately raise the question of resignation will have to present exact reasons why they are not satisfied,” says Sondore-Kukule.

She implies that those willing to call on Pavluts to step down might include businesses that fear his reforms.

Back on August 28, the government meeting was attended by the independent MP Klavs Olsteins, who spoke of arguments against cutting support to cogeneration businesses.

He represented the group of six independent MPs, who have been trying to put off the new regulations. Olsteins was previously thought to be willing to avoid such obvious demonstration of green energy lobby. But it turns out he is not, reports Pietiek.

Olsteins did not, however, answer clearly whether or not he would support resignation calls. But another group-of-six MP Gunars Rusins reveals that they have not agreed on a common standpoint.

“We have discussed this and come to a conclusion that Pavluts is quite a powerful minister. He does not seem to have any selfish interest in reforms that he is carrying out to arrange the system,” he says.

“If someone indeed called for my resignation, I would, of course, see it as a political failure. It would mean that we were not wise enough to complete the reforms. But I will not drop the idea just to do away with any threat of resignation calls. That is not the price I am willing to pay,” says Pavluts.

In August 28 government meeting, Pavluts agreed to extend the transition to the new restrictions (from 2013 to 2016). He calls it a “reasonable compromise”, so that this part of the reforms is not abandoned.

The reason why the State Chancellery lawyers objected to a fast shift to the new restrictions is that foreign investors could sue Latvia in the International Court of Arbitration.

Pavluts refuses to guess what political tasks could be hidden behind the need to find legal grounds for vetoing the reforms.

He also dismisses rumour that he was once offered a million lats ($ 1.85m) to drop the idea of green energy reforms. However, knowing the super-wealthy companies (wind farms, cogeneration plants and biofuels businesses) feeding from state subsidies, the amount of the bribe seems quite realistic.

There is one more fact that sheds light on the interests of those trying to shake Pavluts’ positions. The black PR targeted against him involves the same PR specialists, who have provided services to businessmen interested in changing the political course of the Economy Ministry.

According to Pietiek, the black PR campaign has been allocated unlimited funds. PR company Baltijas komunikaciju centrs (BKC) serves as a channel through which the media are sent numerous speculations about Pavluts working to please his former employer Swedbank.

BKC clients include millionaires associated with the association For Latvia’s Development, founded by Einars Repse. Many of them fear the reforms, because they would deprive green energy businesses of huge funds.

Logging company Pata AB, owned by Uldis Mierklans, would also suffer. Back when Artis Kampars served as Economy Minister, it won many public orders and took up green energy business by becoming a supplier of wood chips.

It should be added that Olsteins has worked for Mierkalns as a lawyer (back then he was already working at the Economy Ministry). In the firm, he was responsible for overseeing establishment of offshore companies.

Under Kampars, businessmen close to the ruling party Unity were generously allocated mandatory state procurement quotas. But the reforms intend to abandon the practice, thus also hitting wind power businessman Olafs Berkis.

Berkis’ team in the so-called Ventspils war over AS Ventbunkers is also represented by BKC.

The PR company has also provided services to another member of Repses’ association – Donats Vaitaitis, owner of bioethanol producer Jaunpagasts.

Vaitaitis is believed to lose the most if Pavluts does not change his policy and drops direct subsidization of green power producers.

According to Pietiek, BKC owner Gints Feders denies that his company is in charge of the black PR campaign against Pavluts. Neither does he confirm that certain angry millionaires are paying to discredit the minister.

“We do not disclose our clients. But I can say that none of our existing customers has hired us for such a purpose. Neither Mierkalns, nor Berkis and Vaitaitis have ever been our clients,” he says.

He reveals, though, that they did collaborate with Mierklans’ company Pata AB about a year ago.

“The company represented Vaitaitis’ interests some time ago. But speaking about Berkis, BKC PR specialist Marcis Krastins once informed Pietiek and other media outlets about Berkis’ view on the fight for AS Ventbunkers. In the winter of 2011, he also organized Berkis’ interviews for different news agencies,” sources close to BKC tell Pietiek.

Feders argues that perhaps his employee did this on his own.


Leave a reply

Week in Lithuania. Some 5,000 gather in protest rally outside Lithuania's Parliament

Some 5,000 people gathered outside the Lithuanian parliament in Vilnius on Thursday, March 15, to express discontent with the failed parliamentary vote to impeach MP Mindaugas Bastys and the performance of the ruling Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union.

BNN summary of the week: oligarch talks’ ownership; scandals in Lithuania; Estonia wants direct democracy

BNN offers a summary of this week’s topical news in a variety of categories: Progress; Scandals; Invitation; Fight; Opinion; Decline.

Remembrance day of Latvian Legionnaires passes with shouts and two arrests

The Legionnaires’ remembrance procession in Riga on Friday, 16 March, passed peacefully. Nevertheless, several conflicts did take place among differently-minded people near the Freedom Monument. Two individuals were arrested by police.

Influenza intensity in Latvia – moderate when compared to other European nations

A comparison of influenza activity in Europe shows that it is high or very high in several countries. Latvia’s influenza intensity is considered moderate, as noted by epidemiologist Raina Nikiforova.

Hourly labour costs in Latvia grew 7.3% in 2017

Compared to Q4 2016, in Q4 2017 hourly labour costs rose by 54 cents or 7.3 %, reaching EUR 8.02. Seasonally adjusted data show identical changes – rise of 7.3 %.

Rietumu Banka claims it has not worked with high-risk clients for years

Rietumu Banka has been steadily rejecting high-risk clients for years and has significantly reduced the volume of transactions, as mentioned by the bank’s representatives.

Lithuanian and Estonian businessmen are ahead of Latvia in terms of investments

In Latvia, 36% of small and medium-sized companies have plans to invest in the development of their business this year. In Estonia and Lithuania, on the other hand, the proportion of businesses with development plans is 42% and 46%, respectively, according to results of a recent study performed by SEB Bank.

Russia pledges maximum pressure on UK amid ex-spy poisoning row

Russian top diplomat in the UK has envisaged on Friday, March 16, that the Kremlin would use maximum pressure on London as Moscow insists it has not been involved in the poisoning of a former Russian-British double agent with a Russian-made chemical weapon, as has been found by British investigators.

Latvia’s ministry: Crimea’s annexation is illegal

18 March 2018 will mark four years since the Russian Federation violated Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity by annexing the Crimean Peninsula and causing military aggression in the country’s eastern region. With its actions the Russian Federation has violated international law and basic principles of international relation, says Latvia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry.

Building gas pipe to Finland, Estonia to organise works for EUR 135 million

Continuing the works on the Balticconnector gas pipeline between Estonia and Finland, the Estonian natural gas network company Elering has stated that around 135 million euros, including a 98-million-euro funding from the European Union, will be invested in the project.

Replacement of cash registers rejected by SRS would cost half a million euros

The State Revenue Service has declined 18,000 cash registers as unfitting for requirements established by the Cabinet of Ministers. Fixing the problems found in them would cost half a million euros, as reported by LNT News.

Latvian Anti-Nazi Committee presented with protest restrictions on 16 March

Administrative District Court has compiled a shortened ruling, in which it rejected Latvian Anti-Nazi Committee’s application and preserved the decision imposed by Riga City acting CEO on 13 March 2018 on establishing restrictions on the planned gathering and protest act for 16 March unchanged.

U.S. introduces Russian sanctions for election meddling and cyber-attacks

Washington has introduced sanctions against 19 Russian individuals and five entities blaming them for attempts to sway the 2016 U.S. election and perceived cyber-attacks.

Slovakian PM Fico replaced with fellow party member

Slovakian head of government Robert Fico has stepped down after the murder of a journalist shed light on corruption in Slovakia, prompting nationwide protests. The long-standing Prime Minister had offered to resign earlier this week if the ruling coalition was allowed to finish its term.

Weekends will be cold and sunny in Latvia; next week will have volatile weather

Starting with Sunday, 18 March, air temperature in Latvia will rise above zero in most of the country, as reported by State Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

Lithuania’s ruling LFGU party remains unscathed by scandals

It seems that, for now, Lithuania‘s ruling Farmers and Green Union has been nearly damage-proof despite the lambasting.

Latvian Civic Alliance: non-government sector should aim towards cooperation

Latvian Civic Alliance has invited the management of Latvia’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry to meet to discuss ongoing cooperation between organizations representing the business sector and the NGO sector.

Saeima rejects National Alliance’s proposal to make 16 March an official remembrance day

Latvia’s Saeima has decided to reject the proposal submitted by the National Alliance on making 16 March an official remembrance day.

43.6% of Latvian households have difficulties with making ends meet

In 2017 the share of households admitting that pay for usual necessary expenses with difficulty or great difficulty constituted 43.6 %, which is 1.5 percentage points more than in 2016.

Saeima voices support for Rail Baltica project’s progression

On Thursday, 15 March, the Saeima made a decision to support Rail Baltica project’s progression. In its decision, the parliament invited Latvia’s Cabinet of Ministers to provide all the necessary support for the project’s successful realization to ensure the project is realized in accordance with established terms and does not lose funding or support from the European Union, as reported by Saeima’s press-service.

Fast snow shovelling linked to cardiac fatalities, Finnish study finds

In Finish doctoral study, it has been concluded that snow should be shovelled calmly, not provoking stress and increased adrenaline in human blood that could lead to cardiac arrest.

Riga’s mayor spent at least eight million euros of residents’ money to promote himself

Over the course of the past three years, at least EUR 8 million of residents’ money has been used to promote the image of the Mayor of Riga Nils Ušakovs. This money was used to buy media, employ young members of Harmony, and finance ‘in-house protestors’ and using social networks, as estimated by Re:Baltica research journalism center.

Slovenia's head of government resigns amid protests and struggling railway investment

The Slovenian head of government Miro Cerar has stepped down from office in reaction to troubles with an expensive railway project and mounting opposition by trade unions.

NAF Commander: Latvia and Estonia have joint military procurements planned

Latvia and Estonia have joint military procurements planned, Commander of Latvia’s National Armed Forces Leonīds Kalniņš told journalists after his meeting with Commander of Estonia’s Defence Forces Riho Terras.

Estonia's switch to free higher education proved right choice, says Ratas

The switch to free higher education made by Estonia in 2013 has proved to be the right choice for a small country, even though critics have pointed to potentially less motivated students, has stated the Estonian Prime Minister Jüri Ratas.

Newest comments