I don’t quite understand why people – media included- are upset about Greece’s Finance Minister flight to Washington with prime-ministerial jet. George Papaconstantinou, the finance minister of a debt-hit and disparaged country, had to attend the spring session of International Monetary Fund. Instead of taking a commercial flight, he jetted over the Atlantic ocean with the Prime Minister’s Gulfstream jet. Together with the minister were his personal aide, some concellors and his oldest sons. Sunday newspaper Proto Thema not only published some pictures before the small, exclusive group went on board, it also calculated how much the trip cost the Greek taxpayers. Six thousand euros per hour are the flying costs for using the Gulfstream, the newspaper claimed and stressed that the total cost was 150,000 euro – not included are the costs for taking off, land and park as well as the expenses for hotel etc for the small group.
I don’t understand the criticism. Had the finance minister of a debt-hit country better used a commercial flight? Fly Economy? Even a charter? Wear his old suit from the 70’s? Sleep in a highway motel? Just to show the IMG-guys that Greece is under economic pressure and revenues are falling short?
George Papaconstantinou flew Gulfstream. And demonstrated the international lenders, that Greece may be poor and broke but it has dignity. That’s why he probably took his son with: to hold the minister’s chin and keep it up.