Miller calls for transparency in MLA pay

| 26/09/2017 | 62 Comments
Cayman News Service

Opposition Leader Ezzard Miller

(CNS): The opposition leader has called for a new pay structure for politicians that he said would be more equitable and transparent. Ezzard Miller has written to the deputy governor proposing a salary pay scale that is based not just on the jobs MLAs perform but also the time they have served, which he believes is going to be adopted. Concerned that first time government backbench MLAs were being paid more than veteran politicians because of arbitrary allowances for their role as councillors, Miller has come up with a set scale which cannot be manipulated by political leaders and allows the public to see exactly how much their representative is being paid and for what.

Under the current arrangement salaries vary widely, from the premier’s pay package of over CI$183,000 per year plus pension, healthcare and a constituency allowance to the newly elected first time MLAs who receive $109,932 per year plus benefits.

But three of government’s new backbench MLAs are being given an additional $2,000 per month, making their salaries, despite their lack of experience, much higher than those paid to veteran opposition members such as Tony Eden and the opposition leader.

While rookie MLAs Austin Harris, David Wight and Barbara Connolly are being paid an additional $2,000 per month as councillors to various ministers, pushing their monthly pay to $11,161, Captain Eugene Ebanks, who is serving his fifth term, receives just $1,000 more for being a councillor.

This, as explained by the premier Tuesday shortly after this story was published, is because the veteran politician could only commit to a part-time post as councillor and was therefore given just half that of his colleagues. But this means that with some 17 years political experience, he is earning less than the three complete novices with whom he is now serving in the coalition government. 

Miller said he believes the re-election of politicians serves as a “pretty good reasonable performance evaluation to justify a pay increase” because it was logical to assume that poorly performing MLAs would not get re-elected. Furthermore, the experience gained with continuous service, as is the case for civil servants, should be rewarded along with additional increments for being a minister, he told CNS.

The opposition leader said he had no objection to councillors getting additional money but he said there needed to be a formal job description for those roles and the constitution should be amended to create junior ministers because at present the job was undefined and not supported by any legislation.

If his proposed salary scale was adopted, which sets out exactly how much a politician would earn depending on time served and status, MLAs would know what to expect and the public would know how much of their tax dollars each MLA was getting.

Miller said his decision to propose a reformed pay scale for politicians came after he took up the post of opposition leader and discovered there was no set salary package for the job or any formalised job description of its functions.

“No one could tell me what the expectations were for the job or the salary package and it appeared very confusing. The salary seemed to depend on whatever a person was able to get and to manipulate via deals and promises,” he said. “As a result, I came up with what I believe is a fair, equitable and transparent scale for all MLAs, from newly elected politicians to the premier’s job.”

Miller added that in the face of discussions about increasing the autonomy of parliament, it was even more important to set down a salary scale that was clear and could not be manipulated by senior politicians or leaders looking to buy support. He said he saw the proposal as another step towards the professionalization of the political system and to ensure that would-be future politicians could see the reward structure.

He said it was not about cutting or increasing salaries, as under the new system some MLAs would receive slightly less and others a little more but many would stay the same. However, pay rises would be clearly set out and fair to all those serving as representatives. He said that in order to attract a high caliber of Caymanians into a political careers in the future, the rewards had to be realistic and fair. 

Miller said that as far as he was aware, no politician was receiving a clothing allowance in addition to their constituency allowance — a question that has been raised in the past. However, he said that it was time to formalise the constituency allowance for all members to $4,000 a month, regardless of how an MLA opts to set up his office.

He also wants government to fund a formal opposition office and an administrative staffer to support his aim to professionalise the opposition and the shadow cabinet so that they can properly hold government to account.

Letter from opposition leader to the deputy governor on MLA salaries, September 2017

See Miller’s proposed salary scale and the current pay being received by members below:

Current Proposed
Christopher Saunders $9,161.00 $9,161.00
Kenneth Bryan $9,161.00 $9,161.00
Bernie Bush $9,624.00 $9,624.00
Alva Suckoo $9,624.00 $9,624.00
Arden McLean $9,624.00 $10,110.00
Anthony Eden $10,110.00 $10,889.00
Ezzard Miller $10,623.00 $10,691.00
Eugene Ebanks
($9,864.00 + 1,000.00*)
$10,864.00 $10,691.00
David Wight
($9,161.00 + 2,000.00*)
$11,161.00 $10,691.00
Barbara Connolly
($9,161.00 + 2,000.00*)
$11,161.00 $10,691.00
Austin Harris
($9161.00 + 2,000.00*)
$11,161.00 $10,691.00
Joseph Hew $13,200.00 $13,200.00
Dwayne Seymour $13,200.00 $13,200.00
Roy McTaggart $13,200.00 $13,200.00
Tara Rivers $13,869.00 $13,529.00
Julianna O’Connor-Connolly $14,215.00 $14,215.00
McKeeva Bush $14,215.00 $14,215.00
Moses Kirkconnell $14,571.00 $14,571.00
Alden McLaughlin $15,308.00 $15,308.00
*Allowance as a councillor
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Comments (62)

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  1. Diogenes says:

    According to the research I have done, the base pay for a US Senator or Representative is somewhere around 174,000-180,000 per annum with benefits, certain members make more like party leaders, Speaker Etc. The US has a population of around 320 million people and the largest economy in the world. Nothing against Mr Bryan but if I use his salary as an example for instance if he is making 9,161 per month ( 9,161 x 12 = 109,932) Which means that Mr Bryan a newly elected legislator is making 109,932 per year, lets just assume he doesn’t have another source of income, 463 people out of our total population of 61,361 (according to the ESO) voted for Mr. Bryan. If the average US Federal Legislator is making 177,000 per year Mr Bryan is making approximately 62.1% of his/her salary ( [109,932 / 177,000] x 100 = 62.108% ) On an Island smaller than most US cities I have to wonder what exactly our 19 Legislators do to be making such large amount relative to legislators in other jurisdictions.
    Another example the average UK MP makes £74,962 per year ( which converts to about 101,163 CI per annum) with other expenses provided for such as an office and a home in the London area, along with travel expenses to and from their constituencies. The UK has one of the largest economies in the world and a government Budget of around 1 trillion dollars per year ( According to the CIA World Fact Book) yet they pay the average MP less than we do. I have to wonder why? We can’t expect these Legislators to act to their own detriment we have to demand that they get paid for what they do. For most of the MLAs being elected amounts to a part time job, they show up to meetings of the LA and vote and go home, We cannot allow them to continually sit in the LA year after year and change nothing while collecting a tidy sum. I understand Ministers getting a higher salary but we need to elect persons who want to represent the people of their constituencies not persons who are able to get 400 persons to vote for them so they can pick up a paycheck and enhance their CV’s

    • Anonymous says:

      Those onshore salaries are gross. Net of tax they take home far less than our mla’s!

      • Diogenes says:

        That’s the point I am just showing the raw numbers because most people in Cayman are used to seeing the amount without large chunks missing due to taxes

  2. Anonymous says:

    All of that money, and nobody can fix the mountain of poison, that is the dump. Unbelievable.

  3. Anonymous says:

    No wonder Austin Harris is so loyal to Alden it finally makes sense now

    • Diogenes says:

      You do realize that Mr. Harris is currently entitled to a substantial salary whether he works for the government or not, Mr. Mclaughlin has no say regarding his amount of pay, the Governor, Deputy Governor and the entire LA work together to create the pay scales for CIvil Servants and themselves as far as I am aware.

  4. Anonymous says:

    “Miller said he believes the re-election of politicians serves as a “pretty good reasonable performance evaluation to justify a pay increase” because it was logical to assume that poorly performing MLAs would not get re-elected.”

    Once again Ezzard is completely wrong.

  5. Anonymous says:

    In Russia, the Duma was introduced a bill on the distribution in equal shares between the majority of Russians of a portion of budget revenues from payments that came from mining operations and income from the sale of oil. Natural resources belong to each and every citizen, including newborns.

    Norway’s pension fund is now worth $1,000,000,000,000. Frugal Norway saves for life after the boom. They didn’t waste any time legislating policies to manage the new-found resource in a way that would give Norwegians long-term wealth, benefit their entire society and make them competitive beyond just a commodities exporter.

    Other “economic miracle” countries invest heavily in education.

    What have been done to secure long-term wealth of the Cayman Islands people? What have been done to the Cayman islands education (other than some cosmetic changes initiated by people who are not qualified for the positions they hold)? What have been done for the country’s infrastructure?

    The answer is NOTHING. No master plans of any kind, haphazards developments that only benefit visitors. Roads, sewer system and waste management are in shambles. The entire population is being poisoned by the Dump and there is no end to this.
    The unfunded portion of the Cayman Islands’ main public sector retirement plan rose from about $191 million in 2015 to $220 million in 2016.

    So why are you paying your politicians so much to manage such a minuscule country with population of only 60K?

    Frankly, the only business that includes residents interests in each project is Dart Enterprises. Love them or hate them, everything that they do BENEFITS local people one way or another.

    So how is it possible that a country that caters to financial service businesses is not investing heavily into its own residents future? Are your politicians nearsighted or have low dopamine levels? “When dopamine levels drop, subjects become less future-oriented and more present-oriented and are only willing to do work that will obtain an immediate reward”. Sounds like your MLA. May be it should be mandatory for them to remove their glasses and regularly replenish dopamine levels with the morning sun light? It is a scientific fact, by the way.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Yet another self serving ploy to grab more money by a double dipper who should have retired years ago.

  7. Anonymous says:

    The level of disdain among most of these incompetent MLA’s evenly compares to their outrageous pay salaries. 10k a month for being a loud mouth bigot. Where do i sign up?

  8. Anonymous says:

    Boy reading some of these comments I can see we really are a bunch of crabs. the Governor makes more than any of these who are our own and nobody complains about that. If your son or daughter wanted to go into politics I bet you would not complain ! Stop bad-mouthing our own people and support them for once. Christ the expats reading these comments must smirk at how cut-throat we have become to our own people.

    • MM says:

      The Governor’s salary is paid by the UK… someone correct me if I’m wrong…

      • Anonymous says:

        You are – the Constitution says the Governor’s salary is charged on the revenues of the Islands.

  9. Anonymous says:

    All these salaries are a waste of time on these people!! They don’t care nothing about this country or it’s people. Elections in Cayman are a complete waste of time, reminds me of a good Saturday Night Live joke!! Too bad it ain’t funny!!

  10. Anonymous says:

    Ezzard you forgetting Chris Saunders salary he earning at the law firm he works at when he not pretending to be an MLA.

  11. Anonymous says:

    What the hell! Oh my God! This is what they are paid??!! What an enormous amount of money for doing what exactly? I know they work and have responsibility but this is too much money. And the premier….. so much money for someone who also has an political assistant and analyst!!! No wonder they can donate these large sums of money to their party come election time! If I remember correctly…. Alden donated $20,000 & Moses $25,000 to the PPM during the election…. in other words just a lil over one months salary! Makes them look cheap given the money they actually made. They are all grinning all the way to the bank and have done very little to show that they have earned their keep. Now we can see clearly why so many people ran in this election, given the money & benefits they get if elected. I hope we can clean house in 2021, given Alden, Anthony and maybe a few others will finally retire with their sack of money and benefits…. and enjoy their life on their farm in the bush or in the countryside. But until then…. to all 19 elected members…. you all need to work for your keep and not just sit in GAB, be on the radio, or be all over social media! We need to see action and change.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Complete waste of the country’s money.

  13. Wonder bread says:

    Over $3 million dollars per annum in pay for doing exactly what? We live in fear because of the increase in crime, caymanians can’t get a decent job or upward mobility, majority of land is owned by Dart, education in poor shape, children being raped, high costs of living, HSA almost bankrupt, elderly barely making ends meet, people losing their homes and we are paying our politicians this kind of money, for what?

    • West bay Premier says:

      Anonymous 8 :22pm & 8:48 pm , it sounds like the voters / taxpayers needs to weigh in on this rediculous waste of money , not Ezzard .

      I think that the voters from all over the world needs to get more involved in the political lives and jobs of the politicians.

      Just look at what the Politicians have alowed to happen here in the USA to millions of people’s identity by excepting their VOTES and PLEDGING to protect those said people .
      But after they got elected they are sitting down and letting Companies like Aqufax to negligently to be hacked and cause millions of people identity to be stolen and be used in the future . And Aqufax to pay retiring CEO millions of dollars in retirement package . While all of the people/voters have to pay out of their own pockets to protect their own identity .

      This says that Governments alow these large Companies to operate with no responsibility and no accountability to the public.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Wait. Don’t Moses and Juliana also get an extra $80,000 a year each, un-audited. For their troubles to fly back and forth from Cayman Brac to Grand Cayman?

  15. Anonymous says:

    That is on average 10k on top of their private business income. Peanuts for these people.
    A friend of mine works her ass off as a domestic helper, makes 40$ a day, pays her 200$ insurance and 400$ rent for a room. Now she is sick and insurance company say F YOU!

    Is that fair ?

  16. Anonymous says:

    Just remember these are the base salaries. Don’t forget about the double dip immediate pension pay, that MLA’s on their 2nd term and more get immediately. Think about that. They made a law that enables them to receive their pensions immediately. Cayman politicians take greed to a whole other level.

  17. Anonymous says:

    This guy got 201 votes, takes home more than the British, French, Dutch, Russian, Indian and Chinese premiers and wants more? Wow

  18. Anonymous says:

    Can’t you all see the big picture here, ezzard is only complaining because he has to work now and can’t see why the new mla are making more than him. He’s just looking more money for his self. Come on North side people get rid of this guy

    • Anonymous says:

      He is asking for not even $100 more for himself and that only comes about if they follow the formula he is suggesting. Please for God sake you need to use your brain!

  19. Anonymous says:

    Please voting public, open your eyes. What do you think the main motivation is to be an MLA? Greed for the money and a lifetime ‘Honorable’ title, or love of the country? Jeez… stop voting them in, halve the pay, hold them accountable and make them actually work their butts off for a living like the rest of us do. And it’d be an idea if they held off making laws for a while and start enforcing them and collecting fees and fines. No wonder our duties and fees are so high we are paying for complete ineptitude.

    • Diogenes says:

      Just a note MLAs aren’t responsible for enforcing the laws in the Cayman Islands, but carry on, may I suggest informing yourself on the topics as to not make an ass of yourself in future

  20. Anonymous says:

    Best paying job most of them will ever have. No way some of them would earn this amount in the private sector.

  21. Anonymous says:

    One of Mr. Miller’s rationale is to attract higher caliber Caymanians to become politicians. Really???? Quite a few high caliber Caymanians have put themselves forward to run for office only to be defeated at the polls by the veterans that know how to work the system and get financial aid to back their campaigns and beyond. Why has he not addressed the fact that many veterans currently serving have been double dipping the system as they receive a salary plus pension. Why doesn’t he reveal the pension being paid on top of salaries? His other comment “poorly performing politicians wouldn’t get re-elected” is funny too. The 3 candidates that ran against him pulled more votes collectively and he earned around 35% of the total vote. He got elected but not by the popular vote.

  22. Anonymous says:

    I think their salaries as based on body weight?

  23. OneVoice says:

    This is way way way too much for part time work . Cut their pay ALL by 50% no allowance then you will really see who is running for Country or Money. This is ridicules. Many of us are living with half this a month and living good . These people are living high on us. enough is enough . Time to protest,

  24. Anonymous says:

    This effectively formalises the notion of a career politician!

  25. Anonymous says:

    I am confused, Capt. Eugene can only commit to work part time? At these (base) salaries, surely everyone is working full time as an MLA, or do they have other jobs or businesses on top of this income?

    • Diogenes says:

      The Ministers tend to give up their normal professions but the other MLA’s have enough time on their hands to pursue full time employment in the private sector in addition to their MLA responsibilities, yes they still receive the full salaries and benefits of the elected position. The obviously have to work out the details with their employers but don’t be surprised if you see an MLA working a normal nine to five one day and sitting in the LA the next

    • Anonymous says:

      Some run their own and/or have interests in other very profitable businesses on-island. Some directly or otherwise have benefitted substantially in terms of favourable government contracts, projects and concessions. A well-known but rarely debated fact.

  26. Anonymous says:

    Longevity in office really isn’t a good indicator of serving the country well, just that you serve only as many constituents as it takes to get you re-elected.
    Pay should be based on the responsibilities of the role. So yes, councilors, who take on addition responsibility, should earn more than back-benchers who do not.
    There should be zero consideration whatsoever to length of service as it relates to pay – your reward for good work is re-election itself, no?
    If you’re driven by a desire to to earn more, perhaps the life of a public servant really isn’t your calling…

  27. Anonymous says:

    Come on the man proposed less than $100 for himself find something else to chew on please

  28. SSM345 says:

    Greedy B*****ds!

  29. Anonymous says:

    I’m not opposed to pay being based on time served, but I’d go the other direction. I don’t believe the best outcomes will be reached with a permanent political class and we provide incentive for new blood. So I’d propose the longer you remain, the lower your salary should be to help encourage a rotation of new people and new ideas.

  30. Anonymous says:

    All MLAS should be working for 5k a month. This to help your country as SERVE!

  31. Anonymous says:

    While we are at it, lets reduce the number of mlas to 9 that is 1 for every 5000 people in a district so WB GT and BT would have 2 reps while NS EE and CB n LC would have 1 each. There is no good reason to have more than 9 mlas. There are only 7 elected ministers and Cabinet members anyway and Cabinet makes the decisions for Govt. The other 2 mlas can be opposition if they choose.

    For those saying that u need more mlas bcoz you need more opposition, just think, we have 19 mlas now and theoretically we can have a situation where we can have 19 govt members with no opposition.

    Also, with all these councillors now, ministers spent less time in the office bcoz they leave the work to the councillors to do, so why should we pay more for a minister to do less work?

    Lets reduce the mlas, reduce cost, reduce the excuses for not getting things done!

  32. Anonymous says:

    This country needs young leaders, preferably women, not octogenarians who only care about their pensions and sick care plans. What have they done for the people of the Cayman Islands? Who reaps the benefits of the “economic miracle’? I did not see any golden roofs on regular folks houses, as they have it in Norway (metaphorically speaking). No one receives annual dividends from a Permanent fund as they have it in Alaska. Caymanian children are not offered the best education and best teachers as they do it in Qatar.
    So who are the beneficiaries of the “miracle”? It seems they are only cruise ships visitors/overnight stayers oriented, doing nothing for the residents of this country.
    Everything is for the visitors, and locals, please move over, make some room for the hordes, who bring so much pollution the locals must have to deal with.

  33. Anonymous says:

    You are all OVERpaid. How about should be making half of that for services rendered.

  34. Anonymous says:

    Why have we been paying Capt Eugene “The Invisible Man” Ebanks anything at all

  35. Anonymous says:

    This call is based on greed. I am sure that Tony Eden or Captain Eugene Ebanks are not starving. “Add life to years, not years to life” comes to mind. Also “Who wants to be the richest corpse in a cemetery?” (from the movie “Alfie”).
    Leave legacy, like Derek Haines, not estate for your heirs to fight over.

    • Anonymous says:

      No idea what Anthony Eden has actually contributed as an elected member. Pay based upon years served should never apply to elected representatives. Each election should be a separate “hiring” of the particular person. Ezzard has stated that each work permit renewal should be a reset of time on Island thus resulting in no one actually reaching 10 years. If that is the case then each election for a 4 year term resets and therefore no one should rely or paid on some sort of seniority.

  36. Anonymous says:

    Salary is just a small portion of real world comp. All of the MLAs (and there are far too many of them to begin with) are being paid far more than their worth to the territory. They negotiate bad or opaque deals which more often than not feather their own nests before the needs of the people that are paying them to serve as their representatives. I dare Ezzard to switch all the lights on and demonstrate how CIG really operates.

  37. West bay Premier says:

    Why does all PPM members earn more money than some senior Politicians ?
    This is the smartest thing Mr Miller has said in a long time but still needs to be more clearly defined .

  38. Anonymous says:

    Aye boy this will just further infuriate members of the public who can’t get a job! No damn wonder those in need can’t get help. This is a damn shame as the MIA members and ministers are being paid too much for such a small country.

    • Anonymous says:

      And tax free too! I propose a 50% MLA tax, all of which should go into a national healthcare account to pay the medical bills of the poor and needy.

  39. Anonymous says:

    Dear Ezzard, how about paying MLAs based on the number of people you represent? Seems fair to me.

  40. Anonymous says:

    Here we go again. Ezzard the blizzard is suggesting that he gets and increase in such times as this. Shame on you!! Yes I agree that that Austin,Barbara,David, Eugene or all these councillors should not be making any more than a normal pay, let’s face it! Really what can they Bring to the table other the the title???? Civil servants can barely feed their children and these obnoxious politicians got the nerves to take home more pay than any one else. I say it’s a crying shame. And at the same time Ezzard take this opportunity to criticize and propose an increase for himself. So Ezzard what is it you really trying to prove???? I say shame on all of you deceiving politicians. Some of these same politicians have not shown their face since election. Yet you got the nerves to say that reelection means you’re doing a good job. Knock my socks off!!!! One day the same people you fool year after year will wake up.

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