(CMR) Premier Alden McLaughlin on Monday (May 25) said that Cayman would not be considering salary cuts for ministers and members of the legislative assembly (MLAs).
He made the revelation while answering questions from the media at the coronavirus press briefing.
“Finally, my final question which you are going to hate, nevertheless I am asking it because it has become very, very popular. Are there any plans for ministers and MLAs to take a pay cut given the current circumstances,” asked Wendy Ledger from Cayman News Service (CNS).
“No mam, there aren’t” responded McLaughlin quickly and abruptly.
The reporter then pressed the Premier to provide a reason for his answer which resulted in a testy exchange between the two.
“Would you care to say why you feel that there is no reason for, or justification for the reduction, given the reduction of the workload for some MLAs and ministers,” pressed Ledger.
“Well, I don’t know about MLAs, but I can tell you my team is working harder now than they ever worked before,” responded Mclaughlin who went on to pose a question of his own.
“I am not sure why ministers and MLAs should be singled out for cuts, is there any reasons why,” asked McLaughlin with a quizzical look on his face.
Ledger responded noting that other countries had at minimum considered it and even implemented the measure. Ledger went on to suggest that politicians were well paid.
“You think that MLAs and minister are particularly well paid in Cayman?” fired back McLaughlin.
To which the CNS news reporter responded, ” Yeah”.
“Let me say this, my experience has been, in the aftermath of the great recession if I may call it that of 2008, those sorts of measures were employed. Not just with respect to cutting the representatives’ salaries, most of whom were having to work much harder than before, given the circumstances. I wasn’t in government at the time, I was in the opposition- so, I am not trying to make a case for what I did. And they cut civil servant salaries as well – it had disastrous consequences. I've never quite understood why making the public service or public servants poorer is somehow going to benefit the overall economy. All you do is destroy moral and, you reduce the amount of money that those – significant numbers of people – I am not talking about MLAs and Ministers-I am talking about the broader public service,” said McLaughlin.
“My question is confined to MLAs and Minister,” interjected Ledger, who noted that she was not in favour of pay cuts for the civil service.
“Okay, if it is going to have any real practical consequences you are going to cut the whole civil service because that's a huge bill. You've got nineteen MLAs and in the grand scheme of an overall budget of more than $850 million – that is a minuscule sum, ” added McLaughlin