Legislators to take pay cut

Civil servants to do the same

TOPLegislatorsBushLEAD

Cayman Islands legislators will
take a 20 per cent pay cut effective this month, with the premier’s salary
being reduced by 25 per cent.

Premier McKeeva Bush made the
announcement Monday, saying the members of the United Democratic Party had
agreed that elected members of Legislative Assembly must set an example in the
effort to reduce government expenditure by having the representatives’ salaries
reduced.

The MLA’s constituency allowance,
however, will not be reduced.

“The ability to meet with our
constituents and to serve them is important,” Mr. Bush said. “Therefore, we do
not propose to reduce MLA’s Constituency Allowances, which pays for
constituency offices.”

In addition, Mr. Bush said elected
members would also have to pay half of their health insurance premiums.

The salary and benefits reduction
is something Mr. Bush also wants civil servants to accept in an effort to
address a projected $56 million combined deficit for core government and statutory
authorities/government companies.

“I believe the scenario that I am
about to suggest would help the government and the wider public service, which
includes the statutory authorities and government companies, in this
expenditure and revenue crisis…” he said.

The civil service reductions
suggested by Mr. Bush include:

Having civil and public service
who earn between $3,000 and $4,499 per month take a five-per cent salary reduction;

Having government workers that
earn between $4,500 and $9,999 per month take a ten-per cent reduction in salary,
plus contributing 50 per of their monthly health insurance premiums;

Having civil and public servants
earning more than $10,000 per month take a twenty-per cent pay cut, plus paying
half of their monthly health insurance premiums.

In addition, Mr. Bush asked that
there be a cessation of government pension contributions.

Although Mr. Bush said his suggestions
represented just one possible scenario, he made it clear he expects the civil
servants and other public service workers to share the burden of the
expenditure deficit.

“I will not take no for an answer,”
he said. “They have to take some cuts. 
This country cannot afford to go belly-up.”

Mr. Bush said he intended to meet
with chief officers and the Civil Service Management Council to examine
different salary-reduction scenarios that could be applied to civil service and
employees of statutory authorities and government companies.

“The government will decide, once
the analysis is completed and the aforementioned meeting held, the
remuneration-reduction strategy for the civil service and the public service,”
he said. “If it is necessary to do so, Government will return to this House
mid-March with appropriate legislation to effect any changes the government
decides upon.”

Mr. Bush said the various salary reductions
would allow the world to see the Cayman Islands Government was determined, for
the country’s sake, to reduce public sector cost.

“We are mindful of our current
difficult times and the government undertakes that when the Cayman Islands’
economy improves along with an improvement in government’s and public entities’
finances, these changes will be reversed,” Mr. Bush said.

Speaking to the probable reaction
from the Opposition People’s Progressive Movement, Mr. Bush said they had to
stop playing politics and do what was in the best interests for the country.

“And I’m calling on the civil
service to stop the politics, too,” he said.

TOPLegislatorsBushSTORY

Mr. Bush
Photo: File
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2 COMMENTS

  1. I think Premier McKeeva Bush’s announcement that the Cayman Islands legislators will take a 20 percent pay reduction and Mr. Bush himself a 25 percent pay cut is bold move. It sends a strong signal that the government is serious about reducing expenditures.

    It is further noted that elected members would also have to pay half their health insurance premiums.

    With this move, Mr. Bush suggested that certain government workers should also take pay cuts and likewise contribute to their insurance premiums. This might be a hard pill to swallow by those affected. However, there doesn’t seem to be a choice in the matter as Mr. Bush said that he will not take no for an answer.

    Well, it is said that when the going gets tough, the tough gets going, and everyone has to tighten his or belt during these harsh economic times.

    To his credit, Mr. Bush said that when the economy and government finances improve, the changes put forth will be reversed.

    The government must also do everything in its powers to closely examine all its projects and programmes to eliminate waste and ensure expenditures are completely justifiable.

    GEOFF DANIELS

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  2. This is just a drop in the bucket of what has to be done. I applaud Premier Bush for at least getting this ball rolling, but I hope he has the courage to do what needs to be done next despite the outcry from the public service and the PPM supporters.

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