Royal household expenses clarified by minister
The defence minister wrote a letter to parliament, admitting his department issued wrong figures for royal household expenses on eve of pending court case.5 June 2008
THE HAGUE - Defence Minister Eimert van Middelkoop has written a letter to the Dutch parliament clarifying the expenditure of the royal household, on the eve of a pending court case.
The case, brought against the Minister of Defence by the news department of the commercial TV channel, RTL4 for failing to provide transparency on royal expenditure, has been dropped. The case was scheduled to be heard Thursday.
In his letter, the minister admitted that his department had issued incorrect figures for expenses in 2005 and 2006.
The published cost of air travel provided for the royal family was lower than the actual figure, while the figure for expenditure on the royal yacht, the Green Dragon, was too high.
According to van Middelkoop, no funds have "gone astray or been misappropriated", although it remains unclear why maintenance costs of EUR 186,000 for the yacht in 2006 were published in the annual report to the Lower House as EUR 304,000.
While the Green Dragon is a private yacht, its maintenance is paid for by the defence budget. van Middelkoop ordered an independent audit of the royal books after mounting pressure from MPs from both the Labour and Socialist parties and the conservative VVD and the Freedom Party.
Speculation about royal expenses received widespread media coverage following RTL4's application for an injunction against van Middelkoop.
The defence minister stressed that no blame could be attributed to the Queen herself and that while errors of procedure had been made by the ministry, his staff had acted with integrity.
Later on Wednesday, Prime Minister Jan-Peter Balkenende re-iterated his plans to implement a new system to ensure that the expenditure of the Dutch royal household becomes more transparent.
[Radio Netherlands / Expatica]