Ministers recall MPs on state company supervisory boards ({{commentsTotal}})

Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure Kadri Simson (Center).
Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure Kadri Simson (Center). Source: (Siim Lõvi/ERR)

The two ministers in the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications, Kadri Simson (Center) and Urve Palo (SDE), announced on Friday that they were recalling all members of the Riigikogu currently serving on state company supervisory boards.

The ministers pointed out that the coalition had unanimously decided not to have MPs on the supervisory boards of state-owned companies and funds any longer.

The issue that led to Rõivas' fall

The issue of such board members, often appointed by their own party’s ministers, had preceded the fall of the government of previous Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas (Reform). After years of conflicting opinions in the matter, Rõivas’ government had decided that the procedure in which those MPs were appointed board members was not constitutional.

Though this decision had not been followed by action. While the Reform Party insisted that a more careful approach was needed, and that it wouldn’t immediately recall its MPs from the supervisory boards of state funds and companies, the ministers of then-junior coalition partners SDE and IRL went ahead and did it.

Reform Party MPs made up the majority of board appointments. The party’s defense of its sinecures then became the opportunity for its coalition partners to join the opposition’s expression of no confidence against Rõivas, and later to form a new government with the Center Party under Jüri Ratas.

Reform Party MPs announced they would step down, but didn't

The affected Reform Party MPs released a statement on Nov. 8 that they would step down, but with the exception of Aivar Sõerd, they eventually didn’t.

“Though the Reform Party MPs announced a few weeks ago that they would leave the supervisory boards of state companies, apart from Aivar Sõerd none of them has actually done that,” Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure Kadri Simson (Center) said on Friday. For this reason, she had requested a detailed overview from the ministry’s secretary general of the MPs remaining on state company boards, Simson said.

Plenty of the MPs in question doubtlessly had many traits that made them an asset to those boards, but in the interest of running those companies transparently, conflicting roles needed to be avoided, Simson added.

Minister of Entrepreneurship and IT, Urve Palo (SDE), said that the Chancellor of Justice’s assessment that the procedure applied so far was unconstitutional made it necessary to recall the board members. Members of the Riigikogu shouldn’t be appointed, Palo said.

“The representatives of legislative power need to remain independent, and can’t participate in the running of a business,” Palo said.

Supervisory board members to be replaced mostly belong to Reform Party

The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications thus recalled the following supervisory board members of state-owned companies and funds in its jurisdiction:

  • MP Toomas Kivimägi, AS Eesti Liinirongid
  • MP Remo Holsmer, AS Eesti Liinirongid
  • MP Valdo Randpere, AS Eesti Loots
  • MP Aivar Sõerd, AS Eesti Post (resigned)
  • MP Meelis Mälberg, AS Eesti Teed and AS Eesti Post
  • MP Kalle Palling, AS Tallinna Lennujaam

Beyond the members of the Riigikogu, the following supervisory board members were also asked to step down:

  • Peep Aru, AS EVR Cargo
  • Tarmo Mänd, AS Saarte Liinid, Elering AS
  • Väino Linde, AS Tallinna Lennujaam
  • Tõnis Kõiv, AS Teede Tehnokeskus
  • Indrek Kasela, Elering AS (resigned)
  • Terje Lillo, Lennuliiklusteeninduse AS (term expiring)

With the exception of investment banker Indrek Kasela, all of the board members listed are members of the Reform Party. They served on the boards of companies in the area of railways and railway transport, piloting services, the state-owned postal service, the airport of Tallinn, the islands shipping company, road construction and maintenance, and the national energy network operator.

Party appointments replaced with ministry officials, new procedure to be introduced in 2017

To maintain the quorum on the affected supervisory boards, new members were appointed, all of whom hold positions in the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications. The positions in question are not political appointments, and the new board members worked in the ministry already under the previous government.

A new procedure for the selection of board members will include a naming committee in the Ministry of Finance, to be set up in early 2017. The committee will select appointees, and the minister in whose jurisdiction the appointment falls then confirms them. No more MPs will be appointed.

Editor: Editor: Dario Cavegn