Centre deputy chair criticizes Rural Affairs Ministry secretary general

Minister Mailis Reps
Minister Mailis Reps Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Minister of Education and Research, deputy head of the Centre Party Mailis Reps criticizes the actions of Secretary General of the Ministry of Rural Affairs Illar Lemetti in publicly going against Minister of Rural Affairs Mart Järvik.

"A certain line has been crossed here. Talking about criminal investigations or something similar, an official will present the facts as they are. But when it's a question from the press, there should be some sort of in-house ethics – where people stick together and avoid talking about certain things," Reps told Kuku Radio's Nädala tegija program.

Reps added that while top officials have disagreed with ministers in the past, it has been limited to officials releasing a statement, saying that it is a political matter they will stay out of.

"Instead of going as far as leaking personal correspondence. I condemn it and would have made different decisions in the public servant's shoes," Reps said.

The minister said officials include people sporting different worldviews and political backgrounds and often hold heated debates among themselves.

"We have also agreed that officials can present positions different from those of the minister at certain public events. All of that is normal. But I cannot understand what is going on with the rural affairs minister," Reps said.

Secretary General of the Ministry of Rural Affairs Illar Lemetti issued a press release on Saturday last, showing how former adviser Urmas Arumäe advised Mart Järvik regarding authorization in a court case involving the Agricultural Registers and Information Board (PRIA). Järvik had previously refuted such claims.

After that, Järvik proposed the government release Lemetti from office due to unsuccessful cooperation.

"The Civil Service Act states that a minister can release a secretary general from office if they find that cooperation is unsuccessful. I believe ours is unsuccessful, and I have made a proposal to the government to release Lemetti from office as per the law," Järvik said.

Mart Järvik admitted in front of the Riigikogu on Thursday that we wants to carry out a structural reform at the ministry to abolish the position of food safety deputy secretary general currently held by Toomas Kevvai.


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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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