WEDNESDAY, FEB. 8: A move to cut the pay cheques of ministers and MPs appears to be gathering steam.
Both Government MPs and the Opposition back proposals to cut parliamentary salaries as Bermuda’s economic gloom continues.
BIU leader Chris Furbert said on Friday that Premier Paula Cox had told him she was prepared to take a cut in salary.
OBA leader Craig Cannonier — who has called for minsterial pay cuts — said: “A ten per cent pay cut for ministers would be a convincing step to assure Bermudians that their Government stands with them in tough times.”
Ms Cox reportedly spoke of taking a pay cut as Government asked its employees to take an eight per cent pay cut for a year – to be offset by not deducting workers’ pension contributions, meaning take-home pay would stay the same.
Government would not have to pay the employer’s share of superannuation either – saving around $31 million.
Premier Cox earns an estimated $224,000. MPs’ salaries have not risen since April 1, 2009.
Whether or not pay cuts for MPs will feature in next week’s Budget remains to be seen.
The Bermuda Sun asked MPs yesterday if they would agree to a pay cut.
Transport Minister and Deputy Premier Derrick Burgess said: “The answer to the question is ‘most certainly’.”
Backing for pay cuts appeared to be winning approval on the Government backbenches as well.
Neletha Butterfield, Pembroke West Central said: “Yes, anything to assist. I would be happy to take a five per cent cut, but people have to look at what MPs make. It’s a $56,023 basic salary. People think we make a lot of money, but we don’t.”
Walter Roban, of Pembroke East, added: “I don’t think I can say anything at the moment because our caucus hasn’t discussed this issue widely. I would want to consult with my colleagues on that. “One thing I will say is I’m supportive of whatever proposals the Premier has made to ensure Government spending is reasonable and rational.”
Alex Scott, Warwick South East said: “In my case, the question is moot because I am going out the door. I wouldn’t want to impose my view on others. But personally, I would be easy with the position taken by our caucus if it should transpire that, before the next General Election, that it agrees to pay cuts. I would go with the consensus.”
Warwick North East MP Dale Butler, said: “Definitely – in my leadership speech, I made it very clear that I would have taken a 20 per cent pay cut for two years if I had been elected Premier and have Ministers take a 10 per cent cut. I said I would not deal with backbenchers the same way because they make very little. But now, as things have got more critical, backbenchers should take a pay cut — perhaps five per cent.”
Elvin James, Warwick North Central added: “I don’t have a problem with it, if everyone else is doing it. Considering the times, yes.”
Walter Lister, Sandys South Central said: “I haven’t thought about it very much. I would have to give it some thought.”
Sandys North Central’s Dennis Lister added: “Whatever answer there is should come from the Government — but I am cognizant of the economic climate we’re in and I’m prepared to do whatever is required of me to address that.”
Pembroke West OBA MP Shawn Crockwell said: “I’ve already said there should be some cuts to salaries, particularly for Cabinet Ministers. Different percentages should apply to Ministers and ordinary Members of Parliament.
“MPs’ salaries have been frozen for several years. There has been a pay cut, in effect. But we need to demonstrate personal sacrifice when we’re asking people to do that. We should lead by example. I’d suggest a ten per cent cut for ministers and five per cent for MPs.”