RIGA - The board of Latvia's opposition center-right New Era party has called for the resignation of Finance Minister Atis Slakteris on grounds of incompetence.
One of the founders of the New Era party, Krisjanis Karins, told The Baltic Times that what prompted the party's decision was his lack of action and efficiency.
"During the last few months we have noticed during this economically difficult time that [Finance] Minister Slakteris has taken a back seat to the issues. He is far from the frontline and from finding any sort of solution," said Karins
After observing the finance minister's activities for some time, the party witnessed his incompetence in many areas, the most specific being the IMF loan to help stabilize the Latvian economy, the opposition politician said.
"Our party sees him as wholly incompetent; he makes incomprehensible statements about the IMF, first saying that Latvia would need no money from the IMF then 3 billion euros, and then finally 5 billion euros, with 2 billion going to satisfy budget expenses. He clearly does not understand what IMF loans are supposed to be used for," said Karins
New Era called for Prime Minister Godmanis to look carefully at Slakteris' aptness for the post, showing that the increasingly worsening economic situation the country is in is a result of incompetent work of the government 's and specifically of the finance minister.
In responding to New Era calls for his resignation, Slakteris told reporters that "The New Era faction is so weakened and split that it has taken to distorting facts and slandering in political debates. Communication has become destructive, and to attract attention, they are using base methods."
In a statement to the press, New Era said that Slakteris would create more problems in the future as he is unable to explain exactly what the IMF money would be used for.
"A government budget based on erroneous forecasts, going on vacation while the government budget was being drafted, the unprofessional takeover of a struggling bank, [and the] failure to inform the public about the real financial situation in the country are the minister's 'achievements' of the past month," said the statement.
This isn't the first time New Era has criticized Slakteris. The party earlier raised strong objections to increasing the national debt and giving additional funds to the ruling coalition. According to New Era, he has been wasting budget money and increasing Latvia's national debt, only to turn around and take out a loan, with Latvian taxpayers shouldering the burden of repayment.
In a bid to save government money, Slakteris said that freezing salaries would be best.
However, according to Karins, "in order save money [he said] no officials were to receive higher salaries. However, he approved higher salaries for the Finance Ministry the day before the decision came into effect. He goes against the grain of what he says."
When asked about the probability of Slaketris' resignation, Karins responded by saying, "At this time we can guarantee about 44 votes. If the Prime Minister were to pull some political weight it would be possible for Slakteris to resign. He needs to be held responsible for his lack of information and transparency."