Seimas speaker has doubts over agrimin’s sacking

Viktoras Pranckietis
DELFI / Domantas Pipas

In his words, the only way to sack the minister could be an interpellation by the opposition. But the outcome of this process could probably be favorable to the agriculture minister.

„There are three ways. One, the minister steps down himself. But the minister said he wouldn’t, which means there’s no other way. The other way is either the prime minister’s decision, and the prime minister said he would say his final word today, and I think he won’t say that the minister needs to go. The third way is an interpellation”, Pranckietis told the Žinių Radijas news radio on Wednesday.

The speaker believes Markauskas would probably keep his position even after an interpellation.

“I think people who are specialists, who work in that area, trust the minister very much. That, of course, gives confidence to Markauskas. (…) His competence allows him (to withstand a parliamentary interpellation – BNS”, Pranckietis said.

Skvernelis plans to make up his mind regarding Markauskas later on Wednesday, and the agriculture minister said several times already that there’s no basis for his resignation. The prime minister said he would make his decision following the law enforcement’s conclusions.

The Lithuanian Financial Crime Investigation Service (FNTT) has found possible irregularities in Agriculture Minister Bronius Markauskas’ farming practices but will not launch a pre-trial investigation.

FNTT said this in a response to the conservative Homeland Union–Lithuanian Christian Democrat political group in the parliament.

The agency told the opposition lawmakers that it had looked into the circumstances surrounding the farming and land declaration practices of Sofija Markauskienė, the minister’s mother, checking documents and interviewing witnesses.

According to the document, while FNTT found no signs of criminal activity, it identified a case of possibly incorrect declaration in violation of the rules and will forward this information to the National Paying Agency (NPA).

NPA is currently looking into the Markauskas family’s business, land lease and payments. Its spokeswoman Donata Macevičienė told BNS on Tuesday that the agency was waiting for Markauskiene to provide certain documents.

The parliament’s opposition parties are planning to initiate an interpellation procedure against the agriculture minister.

Markauskas came under fire after the news website reported that his mother had used several plots of land without the landowners’ permission and had received EU payments for that land.

The minister admits that he manages the farm, whose registered owner is his mother, under a general authorization.

He says that his family farmed that land under an oral arrangement and that their failure to formalize the arrangement on paper was an unintentional mistake.

President Dalia Grybauskaitė has called on Markauskas to resign. Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis has said that he will make his decision after receiving law-enforcement bodies’ findings.

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