State foots bill for French minister's luxury digs

16th February 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Feb 16 (AFP) - France's media put Finance and Economics Minister Herve Gaymard in their sights Wednesday after a report revealed he and his family were living in an apartment off the Champs-Elysees in Paris at a cost of EUR 14,000 (USD 18,000) a month to taxpayers.

PARIS, Feb 16 (AFP) - France's media put Finance and Economics Minister Herve Gaymard in their sights Wednesday after a report revealed he and his family were living in an apartment off the Champs-Elysees in Paris at a cost of EUR 14,000 (USD 18,000) a month to taxpayers.

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, complete with a butler, a cook, a nanny and two cleaning women.

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.

Gaymard's frequent exhortations for France to adhere to an austere budget to bring its national finances back into the deficit range for eurozone countries were also pointedly noted.

The apartment was obtained by direct negotiations between Gaymard's ministry and the company owning the property, Le Canard Enchaine said, adding that the monthly rent - paid out of state coffers - was equal to Gaymard's ministerial monthly salary.

Gaymard declined repeated media requests to comment on the report.

French government spokesman Jean-Francois Cope referred all queries back to Gaymard, whose ministry issued a statement refusing to discuss the apartment beyond saying the rental contract was signed January 10 and it "scrupulously" met conditions imposed on ministerial lodgings.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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