Yesterday it emerged that the defence ministry got it a bit wrong when calculating how much it had spent on the royal family.
The cost of their air travel had been under-estimated while the cash needed to maintain the royal yacht Groene Draek had been over-estimated.
There are two issues at stake here. Firstly, why can’t defence ministry accountants get the figures right? Is it that hard to keep proper accounts on the cost of painting a boat?
Secondly, why on earth is this expenditure paid for by the defence ministry? Is the Groene Draek, a birthday present from the people (taxpayer) to the queen, a defence ministry boat?
Last month the auditor’s office criticised the lack of clarity about how much the royal family actually costs the country. No-one has a clue how much we spend on the upkeep of palaces, the royal hunt, bodyguards and servants.
Initially prime minister Jan Peter Balkenende said he had no intention of taking a closer look at spending on the royals but was later forced to back-track.
The fact that the defence ministry cannot get such simple sums right makes it imperative that the entire royal family budget is put under the spotlight. The mess has all sorts of implications for government spending – whatever your position on the monarchy.
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