Greek ministerial couple resigns over €1000 monthly housing allowance outcry

first_imgMinister of Economy and Growth Dimitris Papadimitriou and his wife Rania Antonopoulou, alternate Labour Minister, in charge of tackling unemployment, both handed over their resignation to Alexis Tsipras this week, after the latter came under fire from both the opposition and the public, for receiving an annual rental subsidy of 12,000 euros per year, despite being among the wealthiest members of the Alexis Tsipras cabinet. According to an exclusive report by the Athens conservative daily newspaper Eleftheros Typos, Antonopoulou made use of a provision for out-of-town MPs who receive a rental allowance in order to have lodging in Athens. This was legally extended to Ministers in 2015, to allow for non-parliamentarian cabinet members to benefit. This subsidy is not means tested, which means that all MPs and cabinet members who are normally based outside of Athens are entitled to it, regardless of their income. The couple were prevoiusly top economists at the elite lower New York State Bard College for decades – and both with large experience in the UN – before delving into radical leftist Greek politics and being appointed ministerial positions by Tsipras. According to their tax records, the couple declare an annual income of more than half a million dollars, while their assets and property portfolios are valued in the millions. The Greek media report that the couple owns a luxury villa of 300 sq.m. plus 180 sq.m. supplementary space, 80 sq.m. swimming pool on the island of Syros; a 110-square-meter apartment in New York; a 31.6 sqm apartment in Glyfada, Athens; assets in stocks and bank deposits worth of more than 3,000,000 euros. The news that Antonopoulou had been claiming the €1,000 a month subsidy for the past two years, was met with furor by the Greek public opinion, echoed by the opposition and also members within the Tsipras government, who called for her resignation. The Greek PM himself called the minister and reprimanded her over the issue. Antonopoulou, who is considered one of the most successful members of the cabinet (during her tenure, unemployment fell by five points, from 25.7 percent to 20.7 percent, with forecasts predicting a further decline), apologised and promised to return the sum, while handing down her resignation to Tsipras who accepted it, on Monday. Papadimitriou followed suit on Tuesday, spurring talks about a major cabinet reshuffle to come. As for the housing subsidy, the government spokesperson said that it is to be banned for cabinet members who are not members of parliament. Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagramlast_img

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