Two former economy ministers held an impassioned press conference Monday in which they urged the government to return to the original plan to nationalize domestic ferry lines long held by one businessman's monopoly.
Juhan Parts (IRL), the architect of the plan to nationalize the lines, and Meelis Atonen (Reform Party), who as economy minister in the Parts cabinet made a similar attempt to break the monopoly of shipping magnate Vjatšeslav Leedo, said that the state's decision to hold a tender to find an operator was theater. Only Leedo's Väinamere Liinid currently has the ships needed to service the lines.
"There are two possibilities. Either the government and the port supervisory board have gone mad or there is a well-directed play produced by there or four people to clearly give private companies an economic triumph at the taxpayer's expense," Parts said.
Current Economic Affairs Minister Urve Palo has argued that there is no guarantee the state's order for new ships would be completed in time, and that such a purchase might not satisfy the European Commission's rules for state aid. Eesti Päevaleht reported today that it had information that the commission had in fact provided written confirmation that a procurement would be acceptable.