Senate: pay cut ‘should have been bigger’
An Opposition senator said that he would have recommended that legislators' pay was cut by up to a half in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Dwayne Robinson asked why a salary reduction for back bench MPs and members of the Upper House was set at 12.5 per cent.
He said yesterday: “As we all know, many if not all of us also have private sector employment, so I was anticipating that it would have been a pay cut of around 30 to 50 per cent.
“That would have been the recommended amount that I would have put forward.”
Mr Robinson, of the One Bermuda Alliance, added: “I just wanted to know, what was the method of which that was calculated and why was that deemed to be sufficient?”
The questions came after senators were asked to approve the reduction of pension contributions by members and officers of the legislature from 12.5 per cent of their salaries to nil from July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021.
Vance Campbell, the Junior Minister of Finance and Public Works, said that the 12.5 per cent recommendation was made to the Cabinet and accepted.
He added: “That equated to what it is that we have before us today.”
Mr Campbell said earlier that any reference to salaries in his remarks yesterday was “purely for context”.
The Progressive Labour Party senator explained: “Senators would be aware that Covid-19 has had a significant impact on economic activity and a severe knock-on effect on the 2020-2021 budget.
“The combination of lower fiscal revenues and higher public spending will cause the projected budget deficit to increase significantly.”
He said: “To demonstrate the commitment to shared sacrifice, salaries of all members and non-ministerial officers will be temporarily reduced by 12.5 per cent.
“In addition, the ministerial portion of members' salaries will be temporarily reduced by 15 per cent.
“The reductions will take effect on July 1, 2020 and end on June 30, 2021 — a period of one year.”
Mr Campbell added that ministers' and members' pension contributions would be suspended as well as the matching Government portion for the same period.
There were no objections to the resolution.
Senators also backed amendments to the Contributory Pensions Act and the National Pensions Scheme (Occupational Pensions) Act to allow employers and employees to temporarily suspend payments to pension funds.
They approved the Bermuda Bar Amendment Act 2020, which was designed to establish a clear legal framework for law firms in Bermuda to use registered associates overseas.
Registered associates work as agents for barristers or law firms but are not fully admitted to practise.
James Jardine, an independent senator, highlighted the importance of the legislation, which is expected to help the island operate in a global marketplace.
He said: “Bermuda certainly has a very good reputation worldwide, there is no question about it, but we have many competitors.”
Mr Jardine also pointed out the benefits for young Bermudians who get the chance to work overseas.