Belgian Minister of Foreign Affairs Didier Reynders unveiled his salary on television, shocking a citizen with whom he was grocery shopping on-screen when he told her his monthly net earnings averaged €11,000.
Reynders revealed his monthly wages as he was standing in the poultry aisle of a budget supermarket with 47-year-old Barbara, a Belgian citizen who appeared alongside the federal minister on the television programme “Un Politique à la Maison” (A Politician at Home), broadcast on Wednesday evenings.
The minister responded candidly when he was caught slightly off-guard by a curious Barbara, who, after deciding on which chicken tray the pair should buy, asked the minister to disclose his salary.
“Do you mind if I ask what your salary is?” Barbara asked cautiously.
“My salary? Oh, well there are —like with many jobs— allowances, etc.,” Reynders said, pausing briefly before adding: “It goes up to… about €11,000 — per month.”
The minister’s reply extracted a long “wow” from Barbara, and gave way to an uneasy exchange as the stay-at-home-mom —whose monthly budget was previously said to be about €1,500— asked Reynders if he considered his work justified his salary.
“I feel like it does,” the minister said, drawing comparisons with wages in the private sector before attempting to divert the conversation away from his earnings and into those of other politicians.
“If you interview any other minister belonging to other political parties…they have exactly the same income [levels],” Reynders said, pushing the shopping cart into the produce aisle.
“Oh, really…” Barbara said, cutting the exchange short as she announced she would add a tray of mushrooms to their shopping cart, to which Reynders enthusiastically replied: “Yep!” before offering to pay at checkout.
The Brussels Times