Prime minister Mark Rutte has admitted claiming more than €20,000 in travel expenses while using a chauffeur-driven car provided by his party.
Rutte disclosed the claims between 2006 and 2010, when he was the VVD’s parliamentary group leader, at his weekly press conference on Friday. Last week the current holder of the post, Klaas Dijkhoff, agreed to cancel the payments, worth €4,900 a year.
The prime minister said he would not be repaying the money, which is paid out automatically to all MPs to cover travel costs, pointing out that nobody objected at the time.
‘At the time everyone thought it was a good idea that MPs were compensated in this way. It put an end to endless expenses claims. I think it’s complicated, now that a debate has risen over fixed compensation, to repay this sum retrospectively.’
The controversy around Dijkhoff’s expenses flared up last week when it emerged he was receiving around €37,000 a year in top-up payments, known as wachtgeld, to compensate for losing his job as defence minister at the end of the last Rutte cabinet. Dijkhoff only held the post for four weeks. He agreed to cancel the payments but declined to pay back what he had received so far.
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