The prime minister’s trip to Europe was quite expensive, according to documents that Defense Minister Panos Kammenos presented to Parliament in response to a question from New Democracy vice president Adonis Georgiades. They showed that for Alexis Tsipras to fly to Portugal in January, we taxpayers paid 25,462 euros.
A month earlier, the prime minister had flown to Cuba to lament the late Fidel Castro. According to a non-paper from his office, Maximos Mansion, taxpayers paid 22,900 euros for the transatlantic trip.
So, either someone is cheating at the till or they are playing with us. How can a trip to Cuba be 3,000 euros cheaper than a visit to Portugal, when the latter distance is one quarter of the former?
But another reply from Panos Kammenos complicates things even further. When he was asked about his own trip last January to the United States along with Telecoms & Media Minister Nikos Pappas, Kammenos replied that the trip was 20.6 hours long and cost 29,491 euros.
The idea that they are fooling with us is reinforced by the Government Gazette, which noted that the hourly cost of flying the prime ministerial Gulfstream is 5,537.09 euros. According to Kammenos’s documents, the return flight to Lisbon (with a stopover in Paris) was 9.6 hours. Multiply that by the amount noted in the Government Gazette and the bill comes to 53,156 euros and not 25,462, which the defense minister claims. The flight to and from Cuba was 22 hours, and so must have cost 121,815 euros and not the 22,900 that the prime minister’s office claims.Who should we believe? The Government Gazette, which says that each flight hour costs 5,537.09 euros? The Defense Ministry, which tells us that the prime minister went to Lisbon at a cost of 2,652.3 euros per flight hour, whereas the defense minister travels at a cost of 1,432 euros per hour? Should we believe the Maximos Mansion, which brought the cost down to 1,040 euros per hour of flying?
We do not know, but no one seems to care. In the age of “alternative facts” the government can throw around numbers without worrying about the contradictions. And these numbers are not peanuts, they concern the labors of the Greek people – or at least those who are still working and find they are in partnership with the tax department.
With their mudslinging against journalists, various populists have made an important gain. They can do as they please, spending taxpayers’ money without any accountability. They know that even if someone asks questions they can shrug them off as lackeys of corrupt gutter media working against socialism and social justice.By the way, in the United States they have a similar problem with Donald Trump’s weekly flights to his country home in Florida…
Published in ekathimerini March 7, 2017