Van Ranst refuses Belgium’s payment for experts after Twitter clash

Van Ranst refuses Belgium’s payment for experts after Twitter clash
Credit: Belga

Belgian virologist Marc Van Ranst refuses to accept the compensation that the GEMS experts will soon receive for their advice to the government, he announced on Twitter.

In recent days, Van Ranst made headlines across the country for getting involved in a fierce discussion on social media with Georges-Louis Bouchez, the leader of the Francophone liberal MR party.

Bouchez repeatedly claimed that the experts were already getting paid by the government, adding that they should conform more to political decisions. Van Ranst, however, stated that the experts were not being paid.

“If some politicians start playing political games with payments to the experts, even before the arrangement is in place, then I will not accept that payment,” Van Ranst said.

Infectious disease expert Erika Vlieghe, who chairs the GEMS council, will reportedly also refuse the payment, according to VRT.

In December, when the GEMS advisory board was erected, the authorities decided to pay the experts sitting fees per attended meeting.

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So far, no payment has been made yet, but that should change soon, as the arrangement is ready and must still be signed. Once that happens, the GEMS experts will actually be paid for their advice.

Earlier this week, government sources told Le Soir that payment should make the experts’ position clearer. “In this way, they are really in the service of the government,” they said.

Last week, Bouchez also criticised the experts, and Van Ranst in particular, saying that “if you are paid by the government, you should be loyal to the government and not constantly question its decisions.”

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times

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