SPANISH deputies halved their travel expenditure in 2020 due to coronavirus restrictions
The Congress of Deputies has revealed that it reduced its domestic and international travel expenditure in 2020 by more than half compared with 2018 due to the onset of the coronavirus pandemic and the restrictions that accompanied it. In 2019, the congress was dissolved for five months with many deputies only working part-time due to a delay in an agreement about setting up the government. Sources told Spanish daily La Provincia that last year €2.83 million was spent on travel compared with 6.54 million, which translates into a saving of €3.71 million, or 56.7 per cent. Congress reported savings of 25 per cent or almost €1 during 2019.
Last year, only 15 international trips were made to the tune of €229,018.71, while €2,604,987 was spent on travel within Spain. According to the data, of the €2.60 million invoiced in 2020, €1,783,522.89 of it went towards trips made by deputies between Madrid and their respective constituencies, the so-called trips for ‘parliamentary activity’.
Overall, the regional expenditure relates to bus, train and plane tickets, as well as mileage expenses for private vehicles. International trips dropped to 15 from some 66 flights in 2019 and a staggering 140 in 2018. Of the internal travel last year, eleven trips were made before the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in March and just four afterwards, when traditional face-to-face meetings were cancelled in favour of online conference calls, leading to massive savings.
It is worth remembering that the figures released by the Congress only relate to travel and accommodation expenses, and not to any other costs accrued while deputies were on these trips. Up until 2017, officials were given a daily allowance of €150 to spend but this was replaced with expenses system, whereby deputies are reimbursed for costs associated with the trip, such as meals.