Saturday 9/25/21
'BREAKFASTGATE'

Marin's tax-free meal benefits total more than 14,000 euros

The amount is equivalent to an average of 845 euros per month in meal benefits since January 2020, which were never declared or taxed.
Prime Minister Sanna Marin. Photo: Jussi Altonen/Vnk.
Prime Minister Sanna Marin. Photo: Jussi Altonen/Vnk.

Prime Minister Sanna Marin's tax-free meal benefits since her arrival in office amount to more than € 14,000.

According to data released on Monday evening by the Prime Minister's Office, between January 2020 and May 2021, a total of 14,363.20 euros were paid with public money for meals for the head of government and her family.

The amount is equivalent to an average of 845 euros per month in meal benefits since January 2020, which were never declared or taxed. These amounts would have to be added to the salary of more than 17,000 euros per month plus other benefits that the prime minister receives.

According to the scant details provided by the Prime Minister's Office, of that amount 270 euros correspond to the prime minister's breakfasts that are at the origin of the so-called #aamiaisgate (or 'breakfastgate', in English) scandal.

The remaining 575 euros would correspond to ingredients to prepare what the office calls 'cold meals' consisting of a starter, a main dish, a salad and a fresh piece.

The service was hired with Compass Group, which also provides catering services to the House of the Estates and other government events.

Calculated as tax-free

The issue of the meal allowances at the Prime Minister's official residence (Kesäranta) has caused controversy in Finland and raised some doubts. Among other things because, according to the government's interpretation, this allowance has been calculated as a tax-free rate, although food benefits are generally taxable in Finland.

The scandal broke out for alleged payments of 300 euros a month for breakfasts reported by the newspaper Iltalehti, but it grew as the press investigated the case. On Sunday, the Prime Minister's Office had to admit that the case went beyond breakfasts and the amounts paid each month were almost triple and amounted to 850 euros per month.

Police investigation

After receiving a request for a probe, the Finnish police announced on Friday a preliminary investigation into the case. The police emphasized that the aim is not to investigate the Prime Minister, but to find out whether there are reasons to suspect that someone has committed a crime in connection with the payments.

On Monday, Prime Minister Marin reacted with outrage on Twitter to rumors that were spreading on social media that the costs of her wedding, held on 1 August 2020 at the Kesäranta official residence, could also have been paid with public money.

The reason is that that same day the Prime Minister's Office recorded a payment of more than 23,000 euros, which according to the information provided has nothing to do with the wedding but is the sum of 50 previous invoices.

Comments