Sunday 6/20/21
'BREAKFASTGATE', THE UNKNOWN

Did Sanna Marin's office pay for consumer goods with public money?

The scandal has eroded confidence in the prime minister, according to a poll published Wednesday.
PM Sanna Marin wearing a face mask. Photo: Laura Kotila/Vnk.
PM Sanna Marin wearing a face mask. Photo: Laura Kotila/Vnk/file photo.

The case of dubious breakfast and meal payments by the Finnish Prime Minister's Office to cover the food needs of Sanna Marin (SDP) and her family at the official residence of Kesäranta still raises some questions.

The main unknown, impossible to clarify with the information released by the Prime Minister's team, is what exactly was paid with the amounts reflected in the list of invoices made public on Tuesday.

The Finnish press received a PDF file that is neither editable nor usable for calculations. It consists on a mere list which is supposed to reflect the payments (not even in chronological order) made by the office. But in some cases the identity of the provider is missing. The Prime Minister's Office also refuses to make public the receipts, which would detail the items purchased.

As explained by Iltalehti journalist Jarno Liski, who unveiled the scandal known as 'aamiaisgate' (or 'breakfastgate', in English), the issue is not that the press wants to know what exactly the Prime Minister and her family eat or where the food is ordered. The question to be clarified is if something else than groceries was bought with the money from the controversial food benefits of the Prime Minister, for example consumer goods.

Prime Minister Sanna Marin has ordered the Prime Minister's Office to suspend all meal purchases for the duration of the scandal investigation.

Marin has been since last week under fire following media reports that unveiled food purchases for her and her family for a total value of 14,363.20 euros at the official residence of Kesäranta. Those purchases (845 euros per month, on average) started in January 2020, soon after she took office, and were not declared or taxed although food benefits at work are generally taxable in Finland.

The prime minister's salary is about 17,000 euros a month.

The Prime Minister’s Office sent a request for an opinion to the Finnish Tax Administration (Vero) on the taxation of the breakfast and meal services provided for Sanna Marin's official residence.

Loss of popularity

Meanwhile, the 'breakfastgate' scandal is already taking its toll on the Social Democratic prime minister in terms of popularity.

Less than two weeks before the elections, a poll published by Iltalehti shows that confidence in the prime minister has fallen 12 points compared to October 2020.

Marin is still the political leader who transmits the most confidence for the Finns, but now only for 28% of the people, compared to 40% in the previous survey.

The survey shows that confidence in Marin remains high among women (35%), but significantly lower among men (21%).

The same poll ranks the leader of the right-wing populist party True Finns (Perussuomalaiset), Jussi Halla-aho, in second position, with a confidence level of 18%. Third on the list is the leader of the Left Alliance (Vasemmistoliitto), Li Andersson (12%). Fourth place is for the head of the National Coalition Party (Kokoomus) Petteri Orpo (9%).

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