Prime Minister’s office spends 219,000€ on cell phone calls.jpg

Prime Minister’s office spends 219,000€ on cell phone calls

THE Prime Minister’s office is expected to have rung up in the region of 219,000 euros on mobile phone calls this year.

This is the amount budgeted for his office’s mobile phone communication, however, the total allowed for communications in the 2006 state budget is 315,090 euros — a figure which also includes calls made using fixed lines and internet access.

The cost of mobile phone calls equates to 70 per cent of his total communication budget and José Sócrates is spending five times more on mobile calls than his Minister for Employment and Social Security, Vieira da Silva and Minister for Economy and Innovation, Manuel Pino, the next biggest spenders in the government, with mobile phone bills of 48,000 euros.

The explanation for the big bill is simple: “The mobile phone is a primary work tool for the Prime Minister,” said a government source.

“He (José Sócrates) is always in contact with his office and with his ministers. Whenever there is an issue to be discussed (queries over files and doubts over decisions) he calls the ministers directly. “This can be during the week, or at the weekend and when he is out of the country,” added the source.

Sócrates is said to prefer this direct form of communication with his ministers (calling their mobiles rather than going through their offices), seeing it as being “more efficient.” The government certainly considers the mobile to be an essential communication tool.

All in all, the Prime Minister and the Socialist Government’s 16 ministers spend a total of 1.25 million euros on phone calls a year. Despite this amount appearing high, the current government is actually spending four per cent less than Pedro Santana Lopes’ (Prime Minister from 2004-2005) government, which had a budget of 1.3 million euros for communication.