Response of the Prime Minister’s Office to the public debate on services at the Prime Minister’s official residence
Assisting the Prime Minister in directing the Government, the Prime Minister’s Office is also in charge of the Prime Minister’s official residence and its maintenance and support services in accordance with the Government Act and the Government Rules of Procedure. The payment of and remuneration to members of the Government and the grounds for their allowances are established in the Act on Ministers’ Pay and Allowances.
In 2010, the Prime Minister’s Office issued instructions on the Prime Minister’s official residence and related services. According to the instructions, other services related to the Prime Minister’s official residence include catering services. A hostess seconded to Kesäranta, which belongs to government reception rooms, is charged with the meal services provided for the official residence and with ordering such services.
The services to be provided to the Prime Minister’s official residence were last specified by the Prime Minister’s Office in a practical guideline dating back to June 2019. It clarified, among other things, the services related to residing in Kesäranta, including catering services. When the Prime Minister resides in the official residence, counting also short overnight stays, breakfast supplies and cold meals may be ordered there. The related reasonable costs will be covered from State funds. In addition to the Prime Minister, family members living in his or her household may also benefit from this service.
Similar catering services have previously been provided to Prime Ministers living in the official residence of Kesäranta, ever since the entry into force of the Act on Ministers’ Pay and Allowances (1 January 2007). It has become an established practice.
Total cost of catering services related to Prime Minister Marin’s residing in the official residence
Prime Minister Marin has been using the catering services related to residing in the official residence since January 2020 and up to May 2021. The total cost of catering for this period is EUR 14,363.20, or an average of EUR 845 per month. This sum includes both breakfast supplies and the cold meals delivered to the residence. The use of the meal service has varied according to the periods that the Prime Minister and her family actually have spent in Kesäranta.
The average monthly cost of breakfast supplies has been EUR 270. The have consisted of foods normally consumed in the morning.
The average monthly cost of home-delivered cold meals has been EUR 575. The lowest monthly cost is EUR 235.20 (February 2020) and the highest one is EUR 1,341.40 (April 2020).
The meals have included cold starters and main dishes, salads and fresh snacks. This service has been provided by Compass Group, which also produces catering services to the House of the Estates for Government meetings and events. The monthly cost of the meal benefit is largely explained by the service provider’s prices, which cover the raw materials, preparation and delivery of the meals. The price of the service is therefore not comparable to regular purchases of food and foodstuffs.
Last week, the Prime Minister’s Office submitted its reply to the media’s request for information on the purchase invoices concerned. The original request for information concerned a significant number of purchase invoice receipts from the financial management system of the Prime Minister’s Office. The Prime Minister’s Office responded to this information request in accordance with its scope. The amount released earlier, EUR 300, related to the period referred to in the earlier request. Since then, the average for all breakfast supplies has been calculated for the entire period of 1 January 2020 to 31 May 2021, which reduces the monthly average.
Steps have been taken in accordance with the current guidelines of the Prime Minister’s Office. The Prime Minister has now requested that the appropriateness of the guidelines on the official residence and the services provided to the Prime Minister should be reviewed and, if necessary, updated.
Taxability of residence-related services
On 31 May 2021, the Prime Minister’s Office sent a request for an opinion to the Finnish Tax Administration on the taxability of services provided for the Prime Minister’s official residence. The internal guidelines of the Prime Minister’s office will be reviewed on the basis of the opinion of the tax authorities. The Prime Minister has requested that the purchases in question be suspended during the investigation of the matter.
Information entered on the Tutkihankintoja.fi site on 1 August 2020
Questions have also been asked about the total of EUR 23,000 recorded on 1 August 2020 on the Tutkihankintoja.fi site that keeps records on government spending. The date of entry shown in the tutkihankintoja.fi service, however, is not the same thing as the day of purchase. The events behind the purchase invoices recorded on the date of 1 August were meetings involving the entire Prime Minister’s Office, and the purchases for them were made in June and July 2020. Invoices have a delay of about one month.
The purchases concerned are not related to the marriage party of the Prime Minister that summer. Prime Minister Marin and her husband covered all the expenses themselves. The invoices were addressed to the Prime Minister, and she has settled them.
Inquiries: Timo Lankinen, Permanent State Under-Secretary. Requests through Päivi Anttikoski, Director of Government Communications, tel. +358 40 536 4821