First cabinet casualty: junior minister quits over travel expenses claim

Junior economic minister Co Verdaas has resigned following a row over expenses claimed while he was a member of Gelderland provincial council.

Verdaas, a provincial councillor in Gelderland before joining Mark Rutte’s second cabinet, had for years charged the province for travelling between Nijmegen and Arnhem where the provincial authority is located.
However, Verdaas in fact lived in Zwolle, which is in Overijssel province. Councillors are supposed to live in the province they represent.
‘I have decided to repay the money to the province,’ Verdaas said in a statement.
‘My job is supposed to set an example and my integrity should be beyond all reproach,’ he said. ‘I do not wish to burden the job, the cabinet and my party with any more discussion about this.’
Verdaas, 46, was an MP for the Labour party between 2003 and 2006. As junior minister in the economic affairs ministry, he had special responsibility for farming.
Verdaas, who has been in the job for one month, will be entitled to the special unemployment benefit for ministers of €9,000 a month for six months, news agency ANP said.
Labour leader Diederik Samsom said Verdaas’s resignation is a loss for the Labour party and the government.

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