Prime Minister Sanna Marin's (SDP) monthly meals benefit is of a higher amount than previously thought, with tabloid Iltalehti writing (siirryt toiseen palveluun) that the benefit is 850 euros per month, not 300 euros as had been reported.
Marin's special assistant Elisa Gebhard confirmed to Yle that the higher amount was in fact correct, as it included both breakfast ingredients as well as cold meals. The amount has increased because previously the Prime Minister's office had only been responsible for the monthly cost of breakfast ingredients.
When all meal benefits were taken into account, the amount rose to 850 euros, Gebhard said.
Iltalehti journalist Jarno Liski tweeted a question (siirryt toiseen palveluun) (in Finnish) directly to Marin on Saturday evening, asking if the benefit was used to buy more than just breakfast.
Marin replied (siirryt toiseen palveluun) (in Finnish):
"In accordance with VNK's [the Prime Minister's Office's] instructions, the meal benefit has included breakfast items and cold meals, so therefore the answer is yes. I can provide information on total costs for the period January 2020 to May 2021, when I receive the cost information from invoicing," Marin wrote.
'Reasonable expenses' are reimbursed
Marin's meal benefits at the Prime Minister's official Kesäranta residence are based on instructions provided by the Prime Minister's Office, and the office's guidelines state that reasonable costs for catering services will be paid from state resources.
Section 4.1 of the guide to Nutritional Services is as follows:
"If the Prime Minister lives at the official residence, including short overnight stays, they can order breakfast items and cold meals in advance from the sales service of the Banqueting Premises or directly from the service coordinator, which can be reheated at the Kesäranta residence. Weekend supplies will be delivered on Fridays. Reasonable expenses related to the above shall be paid from state resources and invoiced from the Prime Minister's Office from the appropriations allocated to the Prime Minister."
The guide was updated in June 2019.
This week PM Sanna Marin was the guest on Yle News' All Points North podcast:
Article continues after audio.
Marin's staff and the Prime Minister's Office have tentatively investigated the amounts involved in the Prime Minister's meal benefits allowance. Marin tweeted (siirryt toiseen palveluun) earlier on Saturday that she wanted to clarify the terms of meal benefits at the Kesäranta residence.
"The Prime Minister is willing to pay the costs related to the meal benefit for 2020 and 2021, but the matter still needs to be clarified with the Tax Administration so that she does not have to pay both the meal benefit and any related tax," Marin's staff said.
Helsinki police launched a preliminary investigation on Friday into whether there are grounds to suspect officials of misconduct over expenses related to the prime minister's breakfast costs.
The investigation will look at officials' actions, not those of Marinherself.
PM denies rumours wedding paid by state
Marin took to Twitter on Monday afternoon to address rumours that the state footed the bill for her wedding at Kesäranta last August.
The PM wrote that she covered all the wedding expenses along with her husband Markus Räikkönen, including food, drinks, staff, flowers, decorations, photographers and music. She further added that she did her hair and makeup herself, "like every day."
"Yes, my husband and I took care of all the costs. We paid these all ourselves," Marin confirmed to Yle while on the campaign trail in the city of Jyväskylä.