FRIDAY, FEB. 10 UPDATE: A 17.5 per cent cut in total pay for MPs and Senators is on the cards after Premier Paula Cox signalled Government MPs and Senators are willing to take a reduction.
Ms Cox wrote to OBA leader Craig Cannonier to ask if Opposition MPs and Senators are prepared to do the same.
The pay package would be made up of a five per cent pay reduction in paycheques, plus a freeze for a year on pension contributions — a total of 17.5 per cent for Parliamentarians.
But Mr Cannonier asks for a 10 per cent for Government Ministers — and an end to credit cards and expense accounts for Cabinet.
Ms Cox, who asked Government workers to take an eight per cent cut in salary for a year, offset by a freeze on pension contributions, wrote: “Government members are prepared to accept a similar arrangement which would for a period of one year involve a cessation of pension contributions together with a commensurate reduction in gross salary.
“Further to this, Ministers and Government members in the Legislature are prepared to accept an additional decrease in their salaries of five per cent.
“The combination of the two measures above will see a reduction of 17.5 per cent in Minister and Members’ salaries for the upcoming financial year.”
Mr Cannonier said his MPs would agree to a pensions freeze and the five per cent cut in paycheques for MPs and Senators — but insisted on a bigger cut for Ministers and also demanded that Government “suspend their use of credit cards and expense accounts – an area of personal spending that has been allowed to spiral out of control in recent years.”
Mr Cannonier said: “It is Cabinet Ministers who run the government, no one else. They are where the buck is supposed to stop.”
“The Premier’s move to get workers to take a pay cut is a desperation move to get her Government off the hook for what is shaping up to be the worst Budget in Bermuda’s modern history.
“The workers’ pay cut has nothing to do with making things better for people. It has everything to do with making her Budget look better than it is.”
Veteran MP Trevor Moniz (OBA) said: “I’m on board with this [pay cuts for MPs]— the Government has to take responsibility and they have to show leadership.
“They got us into this mess and they need to show they are prepared to try and get us out of it.
“Those to whom much has been given, much will be expected.”