Development minister takes the fall for ‘Luxury’ Lars’s travels
The development minister, Christian Friis Bach (R), has resigned his post as expected.
Bach said that he has decided to resign because he had in fact been present at the board meeting of climate organisation Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) when it approved the controversial first-class flights in 2012 that have dogged Lars Løkke Rasmussen (V) in recent weeks.
Bach denied to parliament that he was aware of the travel fare changes after he was given incorrect information by his staff at the Development Ministry. But ultimately the responsibility is his, Bach argued.
“I should have looked into this more thoroughly, but I was told [by ministerial employees] that the travel rules had not been approved and that I had never heard of them. I forwarded this information [to parliament] and that is my responsibility. That is why I am stepping down as minister,” Bach said in the press conference.
Asked to stay on
Bach revealed that his resignation vas voluntary and said that Radikale head Margrethe Vestager, the economy minister, tried to change his mind.
Bach continues to stand by his earlier statement that there was no corruption involved in the GGGI case, and maintains that first-class travel is not something that Danish development aid funds should be spent on.
A report from the internal auditor of the Development Ministry was due late last week but it has been delayed and should be presented sometime over the next few days by Bach's replacement, Rasmus Helveg Petersen.
The prime minister, Helle Thorning-Schmidt (S), wrote in a press release that she understood and respected Bach’s decision to step down.
"Christian Friis Bach has announced that he wants to resign as development minister and leave the government,” Thorning-Schmidt said. “I have really appreciated working with Christian Friis Bach. He has been a very dedicated development minister who has achieved a lot for Denmark and is highly respected internationally.
'Best development minister in years'
The prime minister’s words were echoed by Helle Gudmansen, the campaign head of the development organisation IBIS, who called Bach the most competent development minister that Denmark has had in years.
“It’s the first time in the ten years that I have worked with development aid that we’ve had a minister who actually knows what his job is all about,” Gudmansen told Kristeligt Dagblad newspaper before Bach announced his resignation. “And he can speak with the average citizen and explain what development aid consists of. It’s very sad that he might leave.”
Despite 'Luxury' Lars Rasmussen being the primary player in the GGGI scandal, he has repeatedly said that he will not step down as the climate organisation's chairman.