VILNIUS - Five opposition parties initiated no-confidence proceedings against Environ-ment Minister Arunas Kundrotas, on Dec. 7 when 32 parliamentarians signed an interpellation text aimed at him.
The text includes 12 questions addressed to the minister on topics related to how his ministry is managing EU cohesion funds for municipal projects, waste reduction, water and air quality systems, landfills and recycling programs.
According to interpellation procedures, the minister has two weeks to reply to the questions in written form and meet in Parliament for discussions. If Parliament then decides the minister's answers are inadequate, then a draft no-confidence resolution is declared. A majority vote in Parliament is needed to adopt the resolution.
Vilma Martinkaitiene, a member of the Labor Party and the committee on environment protection, told The Baltic Times the Ministry of Environment is not sufficiently using EU funds and failing to fulfill EU directives adopted when Lithuania became a member of the bloc in 2004.
Martinkaitiene said one of the requirements for Lithuania to join the EU was to tackle directives in recycling, compost management, reducing CO2 emissions, improving water quality and promoting social awareness for cleaning up the environment.
"Our minister is not strong enough to reach these important goals," Martinkaitiene said. "He had a good opportunity in his seven years as minister to see that the improvements are made," she said.
Inesis Kiskis, undersecretary to the Ministry of Environment, told The Baltic Times the impeachment document is absurd.
One of the impeachment questions posed to the minister was: "Do you plan to increase tariffs on the drinking water supply if we continue the incineration of sludge?"
"The simple response is, we are not incinerating sludge for drinking water. We do support incineration [of wastes and sludge] if there are volunteers who want to produce biofuel or fertilizers, for example," Kiskis said.
He also pointed out that the EU funds are indeed being used for intended projects, citing four new landfills already in use in Siaulai, Vilnius, Alytus and Klaipeda. The Ministry expects a total of 11 new landfills to be ready in July 2009.
For her part Raminta Radaviciene, a specialist at the ministry, said more than 14,000 recycling containers have been bought in this year and next for municipalities.
"It is the responsibility of every municipality to organize all municipal waste management from recyclables, mixed, household products, and bulk, hazardous to non-hazardous wastes. In legal terms, the waste-producer is mostly responsible for the financing of recycling," Radaviciene said.
This is the third time MPs have submitted an interpellation to Kundrotas in the seven years since he took up his post.
Last summer, the Labor Party, Order and Justice, Social Liberals, Homeland Union and Liberals supported a no-confidence proposal against him and three other minsters.