Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti has written a detailed account of how he spent his New Year’s Eve dinner, after a member of parliament questioned the appropriateness of holding a personal party at the Palazzo Chigi – the official residence for the Prime Minister’s office.
In a statement published on Italy’s official government website on Wednesday, the Italian Prime Minister described his New Year’s Eve dinner as a “simple dinner of a private nature” that was attended by 10 guests – all of whom were close family members of the Montis.
Apart from Mario Monti and his wife, other attendees included his children with their spouses, Mrs Monti’s sister and brother-in-law, as well as grandchildren between the ages of one and a half and six years.
According to Monti, all the dinner attendees resided at the Hotel National in Rome, “of course, at their own expense.”
Furthermore, the entire cost for the evening was incurred personally by the Prime Minister, who had been responsible for waiving all remunerations provided for the positions of Prime Minister and Minister of Economy and Finance.
To elaborate, Monti went on to describe the exact food that was served at the dinner. Tortellini and sweets were purchased at the Piazza Santa Emerenziana, while sausages and lentils were bought at Via Cola di Rienzo. All purchases, Monti said, were paid for by his wife, who had personally gone down to the shops in order to do so.
In addition, the entire dinner was prepared by and served at the table by Mrs Monti, thus resulting in no additional direct or indirect personnel cost to the Italian government.
The Italian Prime Minister did admit though that there might have “slightly higher than usual charges for the consumption of electricity, gas and running water.”
The Italian Prime Minister’s statement was a direct response to an accusation by Senator Roberto Calderoli who told Monti that it was “inappropriate and offensive to the citizens to organize a party using public facilities and personnel."
The usage of public funds and facilities by government official is a sensitive topic in Italy, amidst the recent bout of austerity measures introduced by the government to save the country from a debt default.
Furthermore, the tales of Monti’s predecessor, Silvio Berlusconi, and his notorious “Bunga-Bunga” parties – often lavish and luxurious affairs – would probably have added to the overall apprehension in the country towards spending by government officials.