Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has accepted the resignation of Alternate Labour Minister Rania Antonopoulou, after news reports revealed that the state was fully subsidising, legally, the rent for her Kolonaki flat.
According to earlier leaks from the prime minister’s office, Alexis Tsipras had contacted Antonopoulou, to express his consternation over her receiving a 1,000 euro monthly rent subsidy from the state, based on a law that was initially intended to assist provincial MPs who did not own an Athens residence.
The subsidy was not granted automatically. She had to apply for it. The applications was approved by officials in the finance ministry and her own ministry.
“I do not consider it proper that you availed yourself of this legal provision. I await your response,” Tsipras was quoted as saying.
It should be noted that it was ruling Syriza that amended the law to cover the housing needs of extra-parliamentary ministers, such as Antonopoulou and her husband Dimitris Papadimitriou, who both came to Greece from the US. According to their legally mandated declaration of assets, they are among the wealthiest cabinet members.
Papadimitriou is a professor of economics who for many years has been director of the Levy Institute at Bard College.
She will give back the 23,000 euros
Antonopoulou before her resignation had issued a statement today saying that she had no intention of resigning but that placed herself at the disposal of the PM and that she would return the money. She cited the legal provisions that made her fully subsidised rent legal.
“Because I did not come to Greece to become wealthier, and because my only concern was always to serve the efforts for my country to transcend the crisis, I am stating that I have launched procedures to return the money,” the statement read.
In the meantime, the general secretary of her ministry, Kostas Poulakis, had stated that, “It saddens me that this action, this acceptance [of the stipend], is overshadowing the work that the minister is doing.”
‘The wealthiest cabinet members’
According to their assets declaration, Papadimitriou has a portfolio of stock and investment products worth US 2.72 million dollars, and he declared 453,429 dollars in income for 2015.
Antonopoulou has US 340,000 dollars in stocks, and 11,400 euros in bank deposits in Greece.
The couple has joint deposits of 480, 154 dollars, a 110 sq.m. home in the US, and a 300sq.m. villa on the island of Syros, with an 80sq.m. swimming pool.
Opposition parties roundly condemned the minister’s actions.