Carlsson, who was Minister for International Development Cooperation, stepped down a week ago as part of the cabinet reshuffle.
The decision to pay her salary with aid money was made by the ministry for foreign affairs (Utrikesdepartement) in 2009 after the department had its funding cut. It was then that the proposal was made to pay political salaries and expenses with money originally set aside for aid.
The move not only paid Carlsson’s salary, but also contributed to the salaries of her top civil servants to a total of 20 million kronor over the four-year period.
Foreign minister Carl Bildt said there was nothing strange about the move as it involves a range of expenses that does not count against the aid budget.
“It’s completely normal and has been for a number of years. This also happens in other countries albeit in slightly different ways,” said Bildt.
This is the first time a minister’s salary has been paid with aid money, Sveriges Radio (SR) reported. Carlsson and her staff received between five and six million kronor a year with her state secretary earning 91,800 kronor a month.
“I think it is a bit stingy,” Kenneth G Forslund, aid policy spokesperson for the Social Democrats, told SR.
“The aid budget is there to help the poor and oppressed,” he added.
It’s understood that the other aid spokespersons in the government alliance were unaware that Carlsson’s salary came out of the aid budget. Since January their salaries were no longer paid with aid money.
Carlsson has not revealed her next move since leaving government but said last week that she “truly had fun every day” during her stint as minister.