Kingo subject to more than dozen questions at first Riigikogu Question Time

Minister Kert Kingo (EKRE), Minister Riina Solman (Isamaa) and Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Centre) at Question Time at the Riigikogu on Wednesday. Oct. 16, 2019.
Minister Kert Kingo (EKRE), Minister Riina Solman (Isamaa) and Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Centre) at Question Time at the Riigikogu on Wednesday. Oct. 16, 2019. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

Responding to MPs' questions at her first Question Time at the Riigikogu, Minister of Foreign Trade and IT Kert Kingo (EKRE) said the effects of the U.S.-Chinese trade war have not yet reached Estonia, and that mail and periodicals will continue to be delivered to mailboxes in Estonia for so long as people continue to write and subscribe.

While Question Time was also attended by Minister of Population Riina Solman (Isamaa) and Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Centre), MPs had just two questions for the others, both of which were for Solman. More than a dozen questions, meanwhile, were directed at Kingo, not including additional clarifying questions.

Reform MP Urmas Kruuse, for example, asked the minister about the accessibility of postal services in rural regions.

Kingo replied that the goal is to ensure that subscribers receive the periodicals to which they have subscribed on time.

According to the minister, how Estonian postal service provider Eesti Post can be boosted out of a deficit will become clear next spring, once an analysis of Omniva group's businesses is completed. "We'll make concrete decisions then regarding how to move forward," she said. "The goal of the analysis is to find a solution to, ideally, turn the postal service's deficit into a surplus."

Reform MP and parliamentary group chairwoman Kaja Kallas said that is under the impression based on what has been said and written in the media that Kingo is not interested in serving as minister, that she does not like the work and tends to distance herself. "Why did you accept this position?" she asked.

Kingo responded that it was astonishing and embarrassing to hear info based on gossip from an MP. "Have I talked to you about this?" she asked. "I don't recall doing so, and I also don't recall a single journalist talking to me about it either. Dealing with foreign trade doesn't mean that I spend my time traveling around the world, suitcase full of samples in hand."

When Reform MP Jürgen Ligi asked what Kingo's role was in the development of foreign trade, the latter recommended the MP acquaint himself with the statutes of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications.

Social Democratic Party (SDE) MP Helo Pikhof likewise referenced claims in the media that Kingo herself has said she doesn't want to travel abroad and doesn't speak any foreign languages, and asked whether Kingo has considered resigning as minister.

The minister responded that she did not recall having spoken to Pikhof about what languages she speaks or said that she refuses to travel. "Where has this understanding on the opposition's part come from?" she asked. "This has been built up on the media. And it is circulated as the absolute truth."

Since this summer, she continued, she as minister has been involved in ensuring that Estonian entrepreneurs have better opportunities to enter external markets.

Kingo: US-Chinese trade war 'differences of opinion'

SDE MP Jevgeni Ossinovski inquired as to whether Kingo believed that the effects of the U.S.-Chinese trade war have reached Estonia yet, and how the trade war has affected Estonian businesses.

According to Kingo, it's currently too soon to talk about any effects, because as far as she knows, this isn't some kind of war, but rather differences of opinion currently being resolved.

"Unlike what you claim, as far as I know, a solution is being sought to these tensions," Kingo said. "According to my information, the plan is to resolve tensions. We have to wait and see what conclusions are reached."

Asked by Pikhof which foreign countries Kingo has visited as minister and what countries she is scheduled to visit, the minister responded that she has represented Estonia in Canada and plans to travel to Germany in the near future.

Asked by Reform MP Heiki Kranich whether she intends to launch any supervisory actions at Enterprise Estonia following the claims of her former assistant Viive Aasma, the minister responded that as the Prosecutor's Office had determined that there was no corruption at Enterprise Estonia, she saw no reason to duplicate the investigation thereof.

Kingo also responded to a question by Ligi regarding the potential of economic growth, a question by SDE MP Ivari Padar regarding the organizing of the Bocuse d'Or, a question by Reform MP Mart Võrklaev recalling the high-speed broadband "last mile" project, by Aivar Sõerd (Reform) regarding the renovation of Tallinn's Linnahall, by independent MP Raimond Kaljulaid regarding artificial intelligence (AI), a question by Reform MP Signe Kivi regarding achievements of the field, and Reform MP Erik-Niiles Kross about international cooperation in IT development.


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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