De Gucht enjoying ‘state-funded Porsche’
8 November 2004
BRUSSELS – Belgium’s foreign minister was accused on Monday of making the taxpayer foot part of the bill for a EUR 63,000 luxury, fuel-guzzling car.
On Monday, La Derniere Heure newspaper said its sister magazine Trends Tendances had unearthed the scandal.
It said that when Karel De Gucht was president of the Flemish Liberal Party (VLD) the party had picked up at least part of the tab for his leasing of a Cayenne Porsche.
The 380-horsepower car’s expensive extras include alloy wheels, heated leather seats and four-zone air-conditioning.
When he became foreign minister, he asked Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt if the government department could fund his car.
Verhofstadt passed the decision on to the financial inspectorate which decided the cost of leasing the vehicle – EUR 0.3346 per kilometre – was just below the maximum allowed of EUR 0.3366.
However, La Derniere Heure said its 800cc engine is well over the limit ministers are allowed and asks why De Gucht never asked for a dispensation for breaking the rules.
The paper said the minister was also setting a poor example by keeping the car since the government has been trying to encourage the public to use smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles.
The newspaper called on De Gucht to give up his car or pay for it himself.
[Copyright Expatica 2004]
Subject: Belgian news