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Cabinet salary bill rises by $150,000

Announcing costs: One Bermuda Alliance senator Nick Kempe

The Cabinet salary bill is now about $150,000 more than under the previous government, One Bermuda Alliance senator Nick Kempe told the Upper House yesterday.

Corey Butterfield, who was hired as a consultant for the OBA following the party’s win in 2012, is back in a similar role, with the same $120,000 salary, under the Progressive Labour Party government.

It comes five years after the PLP heavily criticised the newly elected OBA for its Cabinet salary bill and for appointing Mr Butterfield.

After winning the General Election in July, the PLP cut the number of Cabinet ministers, with David Burt, the Premier, telling the media: “We have reduced the size of Cabinet to 11. I recognise that fiscal responsibility must start at the top.”

However, information provided to the Senate by Attorney-General Kathy Simmons yesterday showed all government ministers are now full-time employees.

Speaking during the motion to adjourn, Mr Kempe said: “When the Cabinet was rolled out, the Premier spoke to the reduced size of Cabinet, stating that fiscal responsibility must start at the top.

“Given that all 11 government ministers are full-time, that’s actually approximately $150,000 more in salary costs per year than the 12-person Cabinet of the previous government.”

Ms Simmons responded: “I would encourage Senator Kempe to wait and see what fiscal responsibility looks like, from the top, before making remarks which would mislead, in some respects, the public.”

According to Ms Simmons, additional responsibilities were being taken on by heads of Government departments “without further compensation, without new allocation of resources, meaning new staff, and without more funding”.

She added: “And so I encourage members to listen, and wait, and study, and collect information correctly before we make statements which are, in fact, too far reaching to be correct at this stage.”

In her answers to parliamentary questions from Mr Kempe, Ms Simmons also revealed Mr Butterfield is now working as an adviser to Jamahl Simmons, Minister of Economic Development and Tourism.

Mr Butterfield has been tasked with creating an independent post of director of co-operative economics at the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation, and reviewing human resources practices and policies at the Bermuda Tourism Authority.

He is also evaluating the grant application process at both organisations.

In January 2013, then tourism minister Shawn Crockwell came under fire for hiring Mr Butterfield, a former PLP public relations consultant, as special adviser for his ministry at the same $120,000 annual salary.

At that time, the PLP said the OBA was off to a “terrible start” in living up to its commitment to reduce government spending.

Mr Burt, then the shadow finance minister, said of Mr Butterfield’s appointment five years ago: “The first day of an OBA government gave Bermuda a larger 13-member Cabinet.

“Today, we learn that any savings which may have been made by salary reductions have been wiped out as we learn that government ministers are now hiring personal consultants.”