Center Party tables no-confidence motion in minister over LNG vessel saga

Minister of Economic Affairs and Communications Riina Sikkut (SDE).
Minister of Economic Affairs and Communications Riina Sikkut (SDE). Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Center Party MPs have tabled a motion of no-confidence in Minister of Economic Affairs and Communications Riina Sikkut (SDE), claiming that she did not sufficiently stand up for the interests of the Estonian state in relation to a Floating Regassification Storage Unit (FRSU) vessel which is sailing to Finland rather than Estonia and will supply both countries with their Liqueified Natural Gas (LNG) needs over winter.

The motion reads: "The Minister of Economy and Communications of the Republic of Estonia, Riina Sikkut, has lost trust as a minister because she has acted covertly and maliciously relating to the bringing of an LNG vessel to the port of Paldiski, and in ensuring the security of supply of LNG to Estonia."

As a result of Sikkut's actions, there has been a conscious waste of taxpayers' money and deliberate misleading of business, the statement continues..

"Taking into account the known circumstances, the expenses incurred in creating necessary capacity must definitely be compensated to the companies. Minister Sikkut has knowingly and maliciously misled and kept Estonia in the dark," the statement added.

"We will start collecting signatures on Monday," Jaanus Karilaid, Center's chief whip, proclaimed, meaning signatures needed to get the motion heard at the chamber.

 "Since new information is being added every day, we are ready to supplement the text of the no-confidence motion if necessary," Karilaid went on.

Center says that government ministers must perform their duties honestly, transparently, in the interest of the state and in accordance with the laws of the Republic of Estonia, while "deliberately" misleading the public is inapproporate for a minister, in addition to Sikkut's failure to protect Estonia's interests, ensure its energy security and maintain its international reputation, the party's MPs say.

"Riina Sikkut is not suitable for the Minister of Economy and Infrastructure of the Republic of Estonia," the statement adds.

MPs from the other opposition party, the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE), have also called for Sikkut's resignation over the matter.

Sikkut became minister in July with the entry into office of the Reform/Isamaa/SDE coalition, referred to even by some of its own members as a stop-gap administration ahead of next spring's general election.

The plans for the obtaining of an LNG FRSU vessel and the construction of the berth at Paldiski needed to bring LNG from ship to shore and to re-gassify it for supply to consumers, were put in place prior to Sikkut being appointed to the post.

She has also proposed Estonia procuring its own FRSU vessel for mooring off Paldiski.

Government ministers do not sit at the Riigikogu but regularly appear there for questioning by the chamber, the various committees, and during formal ceremonies.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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