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Taxpayer outrage

November 21, 2009

Members of parliament have bought 396 luxury pens at 174 euros a piece - which adds up to a lot of taxpayer money. The euros came out of the Bundestag's office supplies budget, but many are still outraged.

Montblanc pen
Members of Parliament bought pens for 174 euros a pieceImage: Montblanc

Politicians in Berlin have come under scrutiny after it was reported that more than 100 members of Germany's Bundestag lower house of parliament ordered 396 fountain and ballpoint pens from the luxury brand Montblanc.

The bill came to 68,800 euros ($102,209) - of taxpayer money.

Between August and October alone there were 216 pens delivered to parliamentarians with a price tag of 174 euros a piece, the Bild newspaper reported on Friday.

Members of Parliament normally receive a budget of 3,868 euros per month to use for costs associated with telephone usage, as well as for buying office supplies such as pens, pencils, paper and glue. There is also a yearly budget of 12,000 euros to cover IT expenses that can also be used for additional office supplies.

According to a Bundestag spokesperson, each individual member can decide how the money is spent, whether it be on a low-priced cell phone or an expensive pen.

The dimensions of the pen issue don't quite compare with the expenses scandal in the UK, which saw parliamentarians buying expensive TVs or furniture with taxpayer money, or over-claiming for mortgages. Still, it has raised the hackles of many in Germany, especially given the current overall financial situation.

The Federation of Taxpayers (BdSt), for one, was outraged by the news.

"The additional money for office supplies must be abolished, otherwise members will be ordering nice Christmas gifts at the expense of taxpayers," Sebastian Panknin, an expert on budget and fiscal policy for the BdSt, told the online edition of Die Welt newspaper.


Editor: Kyle James