Premier McKeeva Bush justified his and fellow politicians’ decision to receive their parliamentary pensions while still serving in the Legislative Assembly, saying by doing so, they save the country money.
“Opting to receive these benefits at this time, in effect, has closed the defined benefit plan to those of us who opted out, thereby reducing the future cost to government that would have resulted in some cases, from additional years of service specifically in my case, as well as the others, cost of living and any future salary increases. We can’t be paid on any of these things,” he said.
Mr. Bush, George Town MLA Kurt Tibbetts and Bodden Town MLA Anthony Eden are receiving pension payments in addition to their monthly salary.
The premier earns about $160,000 per year in salary following a 10 per cent pay cut he took in 2010. He can earn more than $100,000 per year in payments from the parliamentary pension plan at the maximum payment of two-thirds of salary.
Mr. Tibbetts and Mr. Eden would earn approximately $100,000 a year following a 3.2 per cent pay reduction they received in 2010. Both receive 80 per cent of the maximum two-thirds of salary payment for pension, which works out to about $53,000 per year in pension payments at that salary.
Responding to recent press articles and public statements, Mr. Bush said: “It has been suggested that, if it is not illegal, then it is immoral to allow the so-called ‘double-dipping’. Effectively, what they are saying is that people should not be allowed to receive a pension while you continue to work for the same employer.”
Speaking in the Legislative Assembly on Friday, 8 April, the premier asked what was the difference between leaving one employer and drawing a pension while becoming employed by another employer.
“This mirrors the provision of the main public sector plan. Civil servants have been able for generations to retire and draw their pensions and still work for government. There is nothing wrong with that.
“In these days when life is so uncertain, when a person comes to that point in their lives when they can get paid back what they paid, why shouldn’t they be able to get their pensions? They worked, they paid – shouldn’t they be able to get it?” Mr. Bush said.
He pointed out that if he were to die before claiming his pension, his wife would receive only 50 per cent of his benefits.
Mr. Bush said he and fellow MLAs, by accepting their pensions, were acting in accordance with the Parliamentary Pensions Law. Under the current rules, MLAs who have served at least one full term of four years can begin claiming their pensions once they reach age 55.