Thursday, March 03, 2005

Finance Minister Resigns

Ministers do resign, except those in Kenya, the latest: French Finance Minister Hervé Gaymard resigned Friday after 12 weeks on the job after revelations that he and his family were renting a €14,000-a-month luxury apartment in Paris paid for by the state. In addition to the high rent, about $18,500 a month, there was an additional €2,500 a month for maintenance and three parking spaces, €32,000 to renovate the apartment and the parking area and €12,000 for real estate fees.
- He has pledged to pay back the costs incurred for renting the apartment, including the renovation costs and fees for breaking the lease.
- What was particularly unsettling for many public critics was his claim in a magazine interview that if he had been the son of rich bourgeois and not of a shoe repairman, there never would have been a problem because he would own his own apartment
- Gaymard, 44, and his wife, Clara, 45, who is France's ambassador-at-large to attract foreign investment, broke no laws in choosing a 600-square-meter duplex apartment close to the Élyseé Palace that would accommodate them and their eight children. According to French tradition, the government provides free housing for ministers in their ministries or other state-owned buildings or in rental apartments.
- It was Gaymard's loyalty to Chirac that catapulted him from Agriculture Minister to Finance Minister after the presidential hopeful Nicolas Sarkozy resigned from the post in November.
- With his smooth, non-confrontational approach, Gaymard had been confident that he would survive the storm. He told the newspaper Le Figaro in an interview published Thursday that he enjoyed the confidence of Chirac and his government
- Earlier, he had said that as someone who worked "120 hours a week," he had not had the time to check on the amount of the rent for the apartment.

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