28 October 2008

Parliamentary Salaries

10 M-O-M, go!

For the short version of this post, check out The Devil Island.

Parliament will soon be voting on whether or not to increase the salaries of many of the MPs. I believe that part of the reason is to rationalize the salaries so that there are not as many big gaps between e.g. full and part-time ministers, back-benchers, senators, and the Speaker.

Nevertheless, it is clear that on both moral and practical grounds all MPs should vote against the increases. First of all, the Government has just said it will cut expenses by 10% across the board, and has just closed offices and laid off workers in New York. MPs should set the tone and act as leaders for the rest of the Government by refusing to increase their own salaries.

Second, in these current uncertain economic times, many Bermudians will be suffering economically: at the pump, at the supermarket checkout, and when they pay the rent. Also, the downturn will reduce profits of most of the international businesses currently on the island. Government's social services will be increasingly in demand while its tax receipts will be way down, and although the MPs' salary raise would not be a massive proportion of the Government budget, it will be a meaningful amount that can be reallocated to more important purposes.

Some MPs will say that they deserve the increases, that a large fraction of their time is consumed with parliamentary duties, that their job is not paying them for the time they spend politicking. That may all be true, but is no surprise for these MPs: they knew what they were getting into when they signed up for it, and if the financial situation made sense then, it should still make sense now, even without the increases.

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