Norway’s seafood minister offers resignation

Geir Inge Sivertsen, Norway's fisheries minister has offered to resign

NORWAY’S latest seafood and fisheries minister has asked to step down after just five weeks in the post.

Geir Inge Siversten was appointed in late January following a political bust-up within the Conservative coalition government.

But he has already attracted controversy over his links with Masonic and business interests and for accepting severance pay from his local government posts while a minister – money he has since paid back.

He issued a statement at the weekend saying that these issues had taken away all the focus from the job he wanted to do, developing Norway’s most important industry.

‘The industry deserves a minister who can focus fully on the tasks that need to be done to achieve this. The cases have also become a burden to the government and to my party.’

The statement continued: ‘I have resigned from all board positions and regretted the application for severance pay.

‘The severance pay I received is also fully paid back to Senja municipality. I have cleaned up, but feel that these matters are still attracting a lot of attention.

‘It therefore becomes difficult to do a good job as minister of seafood and fisheries. These have weighed on me so much that I have asked the prime minister [for permission] to resign.

‘The fishing and seafood industry has a fantastic future in Norway. It is a strong, outgoing industry that has great potential for creating value and jobs along the coast in Norway.

‘The industry is crucial for people who live along large parts of our coast. I have aspired to, and look forward to, collaborate with the industry to facilitate strong and sustainable growth in the years ahead. Now there will be others who can take the baton further.’

Political commentators in Oslo are saying that Siversten has jumped before he was pushed. The Socialist left party had already put down a notice of no confidence in the Storting, Norway’s parliament, which currently has a minority government.

With issues such as the fish fraud, salmon tax and coronavirus hitting seafood exports, this political crisis has thrown the entire fishing and aquaculture industry into further uncertainty.

Oslo is also in crucial talks with the British government about securing a permanent seafood trade deal after the current one runs out at the end of the year.

Norway’s embattled prime minister, Erna Solberg, has yet to respond to Siversten’s request.

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