Flanders has more than 76 agencies and independent institutions, which means 350 political mandates.
The salaries for these mandates can be as much as 29,000 euros per year gross, Het Laatste Nieuws said on Saturday.
For the first time, a study has looked into various political mandates in the North of the country, including those that aren’t talked about much. Björn Rzoska, the head of the Groen group within the Flemish Parliament, asked all Flemish government Ministers for information on the Administrative councils of agencies and other institutions they work with. These include public companies or institutions everyone knows, like De Lijn or VDAB, the Flemish equivalents of Forem and Actiris, as well as lesser-known bodies like Participatiemaatschappij Vlaanderen (Public Participation Society) and Vlaamse Havens (Flemish ports).
The data collected by the Ecolo Flemish MP shows that some mandates are granted ‘hidden’ salaries. The President of Vlaamse Havens was paid more than 8,000 euros gross in 2016, even though there were only two meetings.
It is mainly N-VA and CD&V MPs who are the highly paid, says Björn Rzoska, “which once again shows us that the N-VA has become a traditional party”. “This is not the power of change”, the head of the Groen group said, referring to the slogan for the Flemish nationalist campaign, “but the power of serving oneself”.
The study also highlights the fact that the different bodies don’t authorise enough independent administrators, and the mandates are mainly shared out between man and women the parties trust, former or current political figures and cabinet chiefs. The latter often hold government commissioner positions, which allow them to receive an extra bonus on top of their salary.
Groen wants this practise to end, and a maximum salary put in place. “The Flemish government cannot look credible if they can’t clean up their own house”, says Björn Rzoska.