IT’S last orders on cut-price gin in parliament.
Spanish political parties have agreed to take subsidised cocktails off the menu in MP’s cafeterias following a public outcry at the expense.
It recently emerged that Spain’s recession-hit taxpayers were footing food and drink bills in the parliament for almost €900,000 a year.
Fixed low prices meant that at the cafeterias MPs could enjoy a refreshing gin and tonic for €3.45 or a seven-year-old rum and coke for €6.85 – roughly half of what you could expect in most bars.
The issue came to public attention when parliament started taking bids from catering companies to run the cafeterias. It was revealed that the companies had to guarantee certain services, including a €9 lunch menu and cheap G&Ts.
“There’s no money for school lunches but there is for gin,” one El País reader, Maite Estrada Salvador, wrote in a letter to the Spanish newspaper.
Corruption scandals have damaged the credibility Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s government, while raised taxes and budget cuts have left many ordinary Spaniards financially crippled.
Recent polls show that politicians now have the worst public image of any institution in Spain, with a disapproval rating of 93%.
Alfonso Alonso, head of the ruling People’s Party in the Spanish parliament, said that the cut-price gin and tonic issue has only made MPs appear more frivolous.
“It makes citizens upset, and they are right, so the leadership has decided to change it,” he added.
However, politicians can take comfort in the fact that other fixed low prices in parliamentary cafeterias will stay for the time being. So while they may need to shell out a few more euros for a gin and tonic, MPs can buy a small beer for just 95 cents or a glass of Rioja wine for a mere €1.50.