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2019.06.21 11:40

Lithuania's chief forest officer resigns over disputes with government

BNS2019.06.21 11:40

Marius Pulkauninkas, chief forest officer of the State Forestry Enterprise of Lithuania, has submitted a letter of resignation. However, he is staying on at least until mid-July, the minister of environment later said.

“The main reason is that I felt no political support for that work we were doing, in general for the whole forestry enterprise and my work and me as a manager,” Pulkauninkas told BNS on Thursday. “Today, I handed in my proposal to end the contract based on mutual agreement, and the minister agreed.”

However, it was later reported that the environment minister refused to accept Pulkauninkas' resignation.

“There was the director's (Pulkauninkas) request to dismiss him, but we talked and I asked the director to think once again as he has vacation time and we will meet after it and then we'll discuss it,” Environment Minister Kęstutis Mažeika told BNS on Friday.

He plans to discuss Pulkauninkas' fate in the middle of July. Until then, Pulkauninkas will have to provide information about the enterprise's internal problems, the impact of external factors on him and the enterprise.

“What he said about political support, he has that support, and we have cleared this thing out,” the minister said.

Pulkauninkas told the 15min.lt news website on Wednesday that the government's decision to temporarily allow selling wood from state forests at a 20-percent discount would cost €68 million for the state.

“In total, the price might drop 40 percent and that will affect our activities,” Pulkauninkas told 15min.lt, adding that the state cannot expect any dividends from forestry enterprises after this decision.

The chief forestry officer says he realized that the new purchase rules will created the biggest advantage for wood buyers.

On Wednesday, the government decided to temporarily allow reducing prices of state wood up to 20 percent, despite warnings from the Special Investigation Service over possible losses and the Competition Council's warning over reduced competition.

The Seimas opposition also claims that the new rules will allow large processors to buy excess volumes of wood and resell them.

Pulkauninkas has led the State Forestry Enterprise since March 2018.

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