Source AP ©

Lawmakers leave million-euro phone bill in Greece

A EUR1 million (US$1.4 million) telephone bill was left by Greek legislators when they disbanded for last month's elections, local media reported Tuesday.

The excess phone charges were racked up between January 2006 and the Sept. 16, 2007, elections - a period just after parliament had begun clearing an earlier, cumulative debt of some EUR32.8 million (US$46.6 million) via installments to OTE, the main fixed-line provider, and mobile phone operators.

The parliamentary budget allocates nearly EUR5 million (US$7 million) to the 300 members for mobile and fixed-line charges, equal to EUR1,250 (US$1,780) per deputy per month - an amount routinely exceeded by the clearly hardworking deputies.

The news, reported in Eleftherotypia daily and other papers, came as an embarrassment to the conservative government and its new parliamentary speaker Dimitris Sioufas as well as his predecessor, Anna Psarouda-Benaki.

However, the opposition Socialists are not likely to exploit the bill issue for political gain, as they also overshot budget lines during their previous tenure in government before March 2004.

Taxpayers will likely foot the excess bill.

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