Bermuda Premier’s salary released

Bermuda Premier Ewart Brown’s annual salary was released in a report last week by the country’s major newspaper, The Royal Gazette.

According to the Gazette report, Mr. Brown is paid $162,862 as Premier and receives a further $54,287 as a member of parliament giving him a total yearly salary of just above $217,000.

The pay puts Mr. Brown eleventh on a list of highest paid leaders in the world. That list was compiled by The Times in the UK.

The release of Premier Brown’s pay comes as officials from Bermuda came to the Cayman Islands to review Cayman’s Freedom of Information Law (2007) and study strategies used in implementing that policy.

Bermuda hopes to have its own open records law in the near future.

Although Cayman has its own open records regime established in the beginning of this year, government officials have so far refused to release specific salaries of any public servants including those elected members of the Legislative Assembly.

A request for the salaries of all 15 elected assembly-members filed in March was denied by then-Deputy Chief Secretary Donovan Ebanks who ruled that releasing the specific salaries constituted an ‘unreasonable disclosure of personal information.’

Mr. Ebanks did provide a list of civil servants pay grades and identified the salary bands that both MLAs and Cabinet Ministers fall under.

According to the pay scales, members of the Legislative Assembly make between $109,080 and $129,672.

Elected ministers are paid between $157,188 and $177,816. The specific salaries of the financial secretary and the attorney general, although not specifically requested by the Compass, are available in government budget documents released each year in the Legislative Assembly.

Personal emoluments to the attorney general were budgeted at $187,000 during the 2008/09 budget year. Emoluments for the financial secretary were budgeted at $179,292.

The remaining salaries for the Cayman Islands governor, chief secretary, speaker of the Legislative Assembly and elected members are lumped into one budget category. The cost of those combined emoluments during the current budget year was just more than $2.6 million.

The Caymanian Compass has appealed its request for specific salaries for elected members to Information Commissioner Jennifer Dilbert.

FOI troubles

Mrs. Dilbert recently criticised the government bureaucracy for delaying the set up of her office, which she blamed for hold ups in several open records appeals to her office.

Late last week, Cabinet Secretary Orrett Connor responded to Mrs. Dilbert’s claims, saying that, overall, the FOI process has gone quite well.

Mr. Connor said government has processed about 360 FOI requests since January and that more than 95 per cent of the responses have been provided within 30 days, as required by law.

‘While it is normal to expect some teething issues, especially with such a significant whole-of-government initiative such as FOI, we are generally very pleased with everyone’s performance thus far,’ Mr. Connor said.

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