Numerous members of parliament play fast and loose with their own rules on recouping travel costs, at taxpayer expense.
As reported, Independence Party MP Ásmundur Friðriksson has recently been singled out for public attention and criticism due to having spent the most money on travel expenses within Iceland. These costs are reimbursed by Parliament, in his case to the tune of 4.6 million ISK.
However, as Vísir points out, Ásmundur is not alone. Numerous members of parliament are guilty of ignoring one of their own key regulations about domestic travel – namely, that those driving more than 15,000km per year use a rental car rather than their personal vehicle, as this actually ends up costing taxpayers less.
“We calculated that after the point of 15,000 kilometres, it is actually more economical for Parliament that MPs rent a car rather than get reimbursed for driving their own car,” Karl M. Kristjánsson, the assistant office manager for Parlimanent, told reporters. “Some have followed this rule, others haven’t. We presume it takes some time to adapt.”
It is estimated that those MPs who do not abide this rule have cost taxpayers over 150 million ISK over the past four years. In addition, these reimbursement payments are not taxed.
Parliamentary President Steingrímur J. Sigfússon says that the travel reimbursement system will be re-examined. One idea of many being considered is to possibly place a limit on the maximum amount that MPs can get paid back for their domestic travel.