While former rural affairs minister Mart Järvik (EKRE) signed a proposal last year to amend the statute of the Ministry of Rural Affairs to eliminate the position of deputy secretary general, his successor Arvo Aller, who was appointed minister of rural affairs on December 10, has no intention of doing so, daily Postimees reports.
"The structural change was indeed brought to the cabinet by the previous minister; however, it has been scrapped in its current form," Aller said.
Falling within the purview of Deputy Secretary General for Food Safety, Research and Development Toomas Kevvai is the Veterinary and Food Board (VTA), which has been one of the main parties to the recent Listeria scandal. While still in office, Järvik said that his plan to eliminate the position stemmed from a lack of confidence in the work of his deputy secretary general.
"By doing so, I will ensure that the work done in the field of food safety in Estonia is perfect," Järvik said at the time. "There are problems with it currently, which was also corroborated by the food safety audit." He added that the ministry had begun working against him.
Last summer, Järvik said that he had been informed about the Listeria scandal in August, however he had in fact participated in a July meeting of the Agricultural Registers and Information Board (PRIA) where Mati Vetevool, owner and supervisory board chairman of the fish processing company M.V.Wool, had spoken about concerns over Listeria in connection with his business. The former minister was also asked at the meeting about the objectives of the agencies in his area of administration.
A month ago, Aller could not yet say what would become of the position of deputy secretary general at the ministry.
"I think he may have been mistaken on some occasions," Aller said, referring to Järvik's work. The structural change would be discussed, he added.
On January 9, Tiina Saron was appointed secretary general of the Ministry of Rural Affairs, a position that had been vacant since former secretary general Illar Lemetti was released from office immediately prior to Järvik's own release as minister.
Aller said that he was glad that the ministry could now continue working in its full composition, adding that the current objective is to restore trust between the VTA, PRIA and the ministry.
Editor: Aili Vahtla