I had no info on Lietuvos Energija project corruption – ex-Energy Minister
Lithuania's former Energy Minister Rokas Masiulis refrains from commenting on the prime minister's recent critical statements on state-run energy company Lietuvos Energija's (Lithuanian Energy) cogeneration plant projects in Vilnius and Kaunas.
Masiulis, now transport minister, says he had no information on any possible corruption linked to these projects.
"I cannot comment on the prime minister's words, but I can express my opinion. (…) The projects were launched when I became energy minister, and the Finance Ministry, not the Energy Ministry, was in charge of the projects. (…) At the time when I saw them, I had no information on any corruption related to these projects," Masiulis told the parliamentary Anticorruption Commission on Wednesday.
In his words, the Lietuvos Energija projects were aimed at taking the situation in the heating business under control, especially in Vilnius, and attracting "honest investors".
"One key aspect that is worth mentioning was that at the time when the projects were launched, there were grave concerns over dishonest activity of certain private heating companies," Masiulis said.
In May, Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis called the Lietuvos Energija projects corrupt. In his words, several waste burning plants in Vilnius and Kaunas of "dubious importance" and "poisoning residents" were more important for certain former government advisers, Lietuvos Energija and representatives of special services, than German energy company Danpower's projects, therefore they decided to eliminate this company.
Nevertheless, the prime minister last week met with Lietuvos Energija CEO Darius Maikštėnas and the latter said after the meeting that his group would take measures to reduce the amount of waste burned at Vilnius plant and its pollution, and would burn more waste in Kaunas. Energy Minister Žygimantas Vaičiūnas then said more of biofuel would be burnt in Vilnius but the heating price would not rise because of that.
Lithuanian Energy is solely implementing the Vilnius cogeneration plant project, worth 345 million euros, and is also building a cogeneration facility in Kaunas, worth 150 million euros, in cooperation with Fortum Heat Lietuva.
The Vilnius facility should start operating by the end of the next year, and the Kaunas plant would be operational in 2020.