Harried French minister surrenders posh pad

17th February 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Feb 16 (AFP) - French Finance Minister Herve Gaymard, under pressure after a report revealed he and his family were living in a posh state-funded apartment off the Champs-Elysees in Paris, said Wednesday he would give up the luxurious flat.

PARIS, Feb 16 (AFP) - French Finance Minister Herve Gaymard, under pressure after a report revealed he and his family were living in a posh state-funded apartment off the Champs-Elysees in Paris, said Wednesday he would give up the luxurious flat.

Le Canard Enchaine, a weekly newspaper specialising in political exposes, said Gaymard, his wife and their eight children were lodging in a vast two-storey, 600-square-metre (6,500-square-foot) flat in one of the French capital's most expensive neighbourhoods, along with a butler, a cook, a nanny and two housekeepers.

At EUR 14,000 (USD 18,000) a month, the newspaper reported, the rent - paid out of state coffers - was equal to Gaymard's monthly ministerial salary.

Also noted were Gaymard's frequent exhortations for France to adhere to an austere budget to bring its public deficit back under 3 percent of output as required under the Stability and Growth Pact, which underpins the euro.

The report prompted radio stations and other publications, including the popular Le Parisien newspaper, to scrutinise the living arrangements, which are well beyond the reach of all but the wealthiest of Paris residents.

In a statement released late Wednesday, Gaymard's ministry said his decision was solely based on "putting an end to a debate that has developed in the past few hours and protecting his family".

But the statement noted that Gaymard's rental of the apartment fulfilled conditions imposed on ministerial lodgings.

Soon thereafter, French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin announced that the lodging rules would be changed, with 80 square metres the maximum size for a state-funded minister's flat, with an additional 20 square metres per child.

Any additional surface area must be paid for by the ministers themselves, Raffarin's office said.

Under those rules, Gaymard would have the right to a 240-square-metre apartment.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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