External experts often earn more than ministers: AD

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External experts hired by government institutions often earn substantially more than ministers, the AD reported on Thursday.

The paper looked at 148 state institutions, including government departments, provincial councils, water boards and local councils, and found that outside experts are paid ‘sky high’ hourly rates.

In 2016, some 20 people were paid over €179,000 or €175 per hour, which is more than minsters earn. The true number may be higher, the AD says, because not all institutions provide information on what they are paying external personnel.

Teylingen local council paid €266,000 to a project manager who handled ‘complex land exploitation projects’, something the council claims it did not have the expertise to do, the AD writes.

Local politicians have been indignant about the lack of transparency of some local councils. ‘It’s too ridiculous for words. Of course we should be informed when this sort of money’s involved,’ Eindhoven councillor Dré Rennenberg told the paper. His local council paid almost €228,000 to a project manager.

Hiring expensive outside expertise is not against the law although there are plans to apply the Law on Top Incomes (WNT), which puts a cap on salaries for top civil servants, to everyone who works for the government.

Government expenditure on outside experts has gone up by 19% in the last two years, the AD writes.