Five bottles of Chevrey Chambertin for 475 euro
MAASTRICHT. Maastricht university managers are a lot more frugal when claiming expenses than the managers of the nearby university hospital MUMC/AZM. UM managers regularly have no wine with their lunch in a restaurant.
RTL-Nieuws has again delved into the expenses claimed by managers in the semipublic sector; after the universities in June, it was the turn of the university hospitals one month later. It appears that across the country hospital managers are not ashamed about eating in gourmet restaurants, ordering expensive bottles of wine or luxury hotel rooms. The cabinet has been urging restraint in this sector for some time.
There is no question of gigantic aberrations in Maastricht, but there are plenty of expenses that are questionable. Certainly in comparison to the spending pattern of the UM managers. The (formerly starred) restaurant owned by Toine Hermsen appears to be a popular destination for the AZM executive board, in particular for its chairman, Guy Peeters. Dinners for groups of various sizes, sometimes three people, other times twelve or thirteen, always resulting in, if nothing else, a hefty drinks bill. On 25 March 2014, for example, twelve people polished off four bottles of Pouilly Fuissé and five bottles of Chevrey Chambertin, for 240 and 475 euro respectively. Add to that the other alcoholic beverages (beer, ‘white wine’, ‘desert wine’) and one must conclude that the total consumption that evening was approximately six glasses per person. Other visits to restaurants also regularly resulted in an average of four glasses of alcohol per person. Even at lunchtime.
RTL presented its findings to the executive board, but received no comment other than: “According to the MUMC, this is in keeping with the positions held by the members of the executive board”.
The AZM spokesperson said when asked: “Yes, we used that phrase ‘in keeping with the positions held by the members of the council of managers’, but not in relation to alcohol consumption. It referred to the level of expenses as a whole for a managing body, which consists of considerably more people that Mr Peeters.”
A comparison to the restaurant expenses claimed by the UM managers provides a much less exuberant image. They often eat in much cheaper establishments (Bokes, Van Eijck), and the alcohol consumption is much more modest, both in terms of amounts and the price of the wines. A lunch with seven people, for which six glasses of wine were ordered, a dinner in a brasserie with two glasses of house wine (so not an expensive bottle from a renowned chateau), a lunch with just mineral water: this is not unusual at the UM, for the AZM this is apparently too austere.
The same applies to transportation. Peeters and his colleagues use up between 5,000 and 7,000 euro on taxi expenses each month, the university’s Executive Board sometimes takes a taxi for longer journeys (Randstad) but just as often they take the train.
The fact that taxis are also used within Maastricht is surprising: Guy Peeters ordered one to take him from the hospital to the Van der Valk hotel. The journey, according to Google Maps is 1.8 kilometres, which takes about six minutes by bicycle. The AZM paid 35 euro for the taxi ride there and back, including the wait.
Another remarkable expense, not because of the amount but because of the item concerned: Peeters needed a new passport (a ‘second’ passport is what it is called in the documents). The receipt from the Roermond municipality of 66.95 euro was handed into the hospital’s financial administration to be paid. Just to be clear: Peeters receives an annual salary of a little more than 3.5 hundred thousand euro, much higher than the ‘Balkenende standard’.
Lastly, a striking item is also the expensive media training in 2014 for Marja van Dieijen, the intended successor of Peeters as chairperson of the board. All together, the training that lasted only a few hours and was given by the Amsterdam agency Bird’s Eye Communications, cost some 2,500 euro. The AZM does not respond to questions on the subject. The rather huffy comment from RTL: “Van Dieijen has never been interviewed in the past eighteen months. She also declined the request of an interview with RTL Nieuws.”