Development minster withdraws from GGGI board
Development minister Rasmus Helveg Petersen has withdrawn from the board of climate organisation GGGI, reports local newspaper Nordvestnyt.
Petersen recently took over as minister from Christian Friis Bach (R) and at the same time assumed responsibilities as a GGGI board member, which Denmark holds thanks to its 90 million kroner donation to the organisation.
“From now on a civil servant will sit on the board,” Petersen said. “I have a lot of important tasks to take care of and I need to prioritise my time.”
Big step by new minister
Bach stepped down as development minister after discovering he had misled parliament about his role approving expensive first class flights for GGGI chairman – and leader of opposition party Venstre – Lars Løkke Rasmussen.
After telling parliament that he was not present when the GGGI board approved its travel policy, his civil servants later discovered that the policy was included as a footnote in documents Bach had approved during a board meeting.
The decision to resign placed pressure on Rasmussen, who stayed on as GGGI chairman despite running up 770,000 kroner of first class travel while representing the organisation.
GGGI under scrutiny
Rasmussen did not break any rules, but admitted that he should been more frugal with public funds and restricted his travel to business class.
A scathing report about GGGI’s finances by the South Korean state auditor – GGGI started out as a South Korean NGO before being transformed into an international organisation under Rasmussen’s leadership – has raised questions about its future and whether Denmark will provide a new round of funding when it runs out in 2014.
Not a symbolic move
But Petersen says his decision does not mean that Denmark is reducing its commitment to GGGI.
“Besides South Korea, there are no other donor countries that are represented by a cabinet member,” Petersen said. “I have full faith in letting a civil servant represent Denmark. We now need to look forward and gain better control of the organisation so that it is ready for when parliament next year decides whether to continue its support.”