$3M budgeted for leaders

Government budget figures reveal total cost of pay and benefits

The total annual amount paid to the Cayman Islands governor, deputy governor, premier, speaker of the house, Cabinet ministers and elected members of the Legislative Assembly averaged just more than $3 million a year between mid-2011 and mid-2013.  

According to budget documents released last week, that figure includes salary, personal allowances, pension contributions and health insurance payments made on behalf of those 18 individuals.  

The total for the 2012/13 fiscal year was exactly $3,047,898, of which $238,486 was included as a “supplementary appropriation.”  

The extra nearly $240,000 went to Cayman Islands backbench and opposition lawmakers as part of their annual salaries in the government’s 2012/13 spending plan. However, that does not mean those elected members received pay raises.  

It appears to be only the second time in modern history that those legislators received their full annual paycheck during an election year.  

The pay for what were then 10 non-ministerial positions in the Legislative Assembly totaled $238,486 in salary and other emoluments during the period between the dissolution of the house on March 26 and the general election on May 22.  

According to information provided by government finance officials, between 1973 and 2005, non-executive legislators did not receive salary during election years between the dissolution of parliament and the date of the general election. In 2009, Cabinet agreed that those non-executive members should receive pay during that roughly two-month period.  

According to Erskine May’s treatise on the law, privileges, proceedings and usage of Parliament: “A person who is a member at the time of a dissolution of Parliament continues to receive his/her salary until the end of the day of the poll in the consequent general elections.”  

 

Pay rates  

Salaries for members of the Cayman Islands Legislative Assembly were released by then-Leader of Government Business McKeeva Bush in 2009.  

No net pay increases were received by lawmakers or members of the Cayman Islands civil service since that time. A 3.2 percent cost of living increase was awarded, but later taken away by Mr. Bush’s government.  

Leader of Government Business [became Office of the Premier] – $14,818 per month [a 10 percent pay reduction was applied to this position after the salary list was made public] 

Speaker of the House – $14,106 per month 

Cabinet Ministers – between $13,099 and $13,425 per month 

Leader of the Opposition – $10,541 per month [the same 10 percent pay cut was applied to this position] 

Deputy Speaker of the House – $10,033 per month 

Opposition and backbench representatives – between $9,090 and $9,316 per month 

Pensions  

Three elected members of the Cayman Islands Legislative Assembly are also receiving parliamentary pension payments while continuing to serve in the Legislative Assembly, according to information released by the Public Service Pensions Board under a 2011 open records request. 

According to the records, McKeeva Bush, Kurt Tibbetts and Anthony Eden are receiving pension payments in addition to their monthly salary. 

Mr. Bush, who earned roughly $160,000 per year in salary as premier at the time he retired [including a 10 percent pay cut applied to the premier’s office in 2011 following some budget austerity measures], is eligible to earn more than $100,000 per year in payments from the parliamentary pension plan at the maximum payment of two-thirds of salary. 

“I have paid my pension for over 25 years, and by law I am now eligible to receive my pension,” Premier Bush said when asked about it in 2011. “I now receive it.” 

Long-serving legislators Mr. Tibbetts and Mr. Eden, both receive 80 percent of the maximum two-thirds of salary payment for pension at the time they retired. 

Mr. Eden said he accepted the parliamentary pension in January 2009 after suffering a serious heart problem. He said he was also uncertain of this future position due to the then-impending May 2009 elections. 

“You’re entitled to it, I could have deferred it until later down the line, but I’ve got nothing to hide,” Mr. Eden said at the time. 

Mr. Tibbetts said he also began receiving his pension in 2009, actually taking less than the maximum pension he could have earned if he waited a few years longer. 

“A pension is something that you have earned,” Mr. Tibbetts said. “I was entitled to do so and I made a decision to collect less than the vested amount. 

“There are many other people in the civil service and who receive pension now and are working. There are people who are collecting pension that will seek [elected] office again.” 

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