Poll: Should We Reduce Size Of Cabinet & MPs?

December 5, 2013

Saying it could save $730,000, the SAGE Commission suggested the size of Cabinet be reduced from 12 to 8 while the number of elected MPs should drop from 36 to 30.

SAGE said the budgeted amount for the Legislature is around $6 million, of which $4.6 million is spent on Ministers and Members.

The report [140 page PDF] said “Government is much larger than it needs to be to conduct the Island’s business” and “Bermuda carries a high number of paid legislators compared to many other countries.”

Graph extracted from the report:

Fullscreen capture 12052013 60712 AM

Constitutional changes are needed to reduce MPs from 36 to 30, however the SAGE Report noted that the Premier can make changes now to the size of the Cabinet without changes to the Bermuda Constitution.

The SAGE report said the suggested reductions would save $730,000 in salaries and benefits, and said until both recommendations are implemented, Ministers and MPs should “take an immediate reduction in salary equal to the reduction” of the civil service.

What do you think? Vote in our poll below, which will close in 24 hours

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Should we reduce the amount of MPs & Cabinet Ministers?

  • Yes, reduce both MPs and Ministers (80%, 337 Votes)
  • Reduce Cabinet Ministers only (9%, 39 Votes)
  • Fire them all! (5%, 22 Votes)
  • Reduce MPs only (3%, 12 Votes)
  • No (2%, 7 Votes)
  • None of the above (1%, 4 Votes)

Total Voters: 419

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On a related note, the SAGE report said, “Political interference has been allowed to thwart the effective management of the Civil Service.”

“It must be acknowledged that the responsibility for these budget overruns is shared by both Government employees and Government Ministers,” the SAGE report continued. “There is evidence that Ministers have exerted influence in encouraging – or at least not discouraging – a lax fiscal environment.”

In his response to the report, former Cabinet Secretary Donald Scott said it makes a “number of sound and useful recommendations” however said the overall quality is “diminished in some areas by errors of fact and the reliance on anecdotal stories…”

The Premier’s office has not responded to our requests for comment as to whether the Premier will be reducing Cabinet, however we will update as able.

The relevant portion of the SAGE Report is below:

In 2005, when there were 40 Members of the House of Assembly, the Legislature consumed .45% of Government revenue.

In 2014, with 36 Members of the House of Assembly, it is projected that the Legislature will consume .70% of Government’s revenue. These numbers do not include accrued liabilities for Members for GEHI and their pensions.

The budgeted amount for the Legislature is $6,079,000, of which $4,604,000 is spent on Ministers and Members.

Recommendations:

The Commission recommends that the cost of running the Bermuda Parliament be reduced by 15% as follows:

1. In the first instance, we are recommending that the number of Members of the House of Assembly be changed, and the necessary Constitutional changes effected, to reduce the size (and the cost) of running the Bermuda Parliament by reducing the House of Assembly from 36 to 30 seats.

The reduction in the size of the House requires a Constitutional change which may be made now but which will not take effect until the next General Election.

Further, we recommend that the size of the Cabinet be reduced to a maximum of 8 Ministers including the Premier. The Premier can make changes now to the size of the Cabinet without changes to the Bermuda Constitution.

It is anticipated that these reductions represent savings of $730,000 in salaries and benefits.

Until both these recommendations are implemented, we recommend that the Ministers and Members of the Legislature take an immediate reduction in salary equal to the reduction in salary and wages of the Civil and Public Service.

We also recommend that Ministers and Members of the Legislature reduce their salary in the future in line with any reductions in the salary and wages of the Civil and Public Service.

However, these cost savings do not equal the targeted 15%.

We therefore recommend that the remaining areas of the Legislature’s budget be reduced to make up the difference and/or further reductions in the salary of the Ministers and Members of the Legislature.

2. Form 3 Joint Select Committees of the Houses of the Legislature, giving each Joint Select Committee responsibility for 2 or 3 Ministries.

Each Joint Select Committee would monitor the Ministries’ activities on an ongoing basis, calling Ministers and Civil Servants before them to answer for the activities of the Ministries and Departments in the same way as is found in other Commonwealth Parliamentary systems.

This structure would enhance transparency of ongoing Government activity far better than a once-yearly budget debate filled with sound bites and the occasional parliamentary question with its nuanced answers.

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Comments (47)

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  1. Nuffin but da Truth says:

    YES!…this island does not need that many.

  2. Al says:

    I think on the other hand during current times when there is a huge amount of change and change management happening we probably need more Ministers to get things done like right now.

    It’s one thing to have a full-size Cabinet during the first term in office, another to have a full Cabinet after a decade in power and giving Cabinet posts to people with absolutely no qualification or skill in their Ministry’s area of responsibility.

    • Malachi says:

      I don’t know AL; we’re always in a state of change; ever evolving!

      The SAGE commission noted “inefficiencies”, meaning that some incumbents are NOT working as hard as they can or should.

      I would bet that 30 hardworking MPs can accomplish as much or more than 36 MPs NOT working so hard, and this principle can also be applied to Ministers/Civil Service.

    • Rockfish #1 says:

      We have a Minister without portfolio, who is paid for doing next to nothing. This strongly suggests there is not enough work for Cabinet to do.

      Also, we have at least one part time Minister, who has a key Ministry.

      On top of that, several Ministers do very little to earn their pay, simply because there is very little for them to do. Combining Ministries would fix this.

      We would be better off with a smaller efficient team who will actually earn their pay.

  3. March Hare says:

    I don’t think the reduction is enough. Reduce even further, Nine Parishes, two per Parish = 18 MPs. This is the amount of US Senators per state in the USA, some representing many millions of people. Remove political parties (you can still have interest groups) in favour of combined governance for the common good. Once the 18 are elected, they could then elect their own leader who will be Premier. the Premier then nominates his/her cabinet. Set elections every five years, and straightfoward, streamlined government.

    However, seeing as any reduction in the amount of MPs would have to be approved by Parliament, there is no likelihood of this happening anytime soon – Turkeys don’t vote for Christmas!

    • Banana says:

      Yes, this one party leadership to support the common good sounds fantastic. Wait, where have I heard this before?? Hmmmmm. Oh yes, communist Germany. Common = communism which promises equality for everyone.

      • March Hare says:

        One huge difference – we will still elect our leaders every five years, in open independently-run elections. If you don’t like your MP, you get rid of him/her through the ballot box. Its called democracy, and its light years away from Communism. What I am advocating is local candidates, standing for election as their Parish MP, accountable to their Parishoners/Constituents, representing the views of those that elected them without the contraints of a party whip.

        Incidentally, I think you are confusing communism with fascism, Germany was never communist, well, East Germany was under Soviet control for a few decades… I digress…

        • Triangle Drifter says:

          How about a ‘no’ party system? No reps for a particular area either since few of them live where they represent now.

          How about a fixed term PROPORTIONAL voting system? Every voter gets say 5 votes for their 5 favourite. The top 36 get in. They have to sort themselves out as to who will be Minister of what & who will be Premier. No more OBA. No more PLP. No more anything P or A. Y’all have to work together.

    • terry says:

      And they have a pretty bad track record when it comes to Thanksgiving.

  4. watching says:

    I dont understand why Premier Cannonier has yet to reduce the cabinet size. He has full constitutional power to do so. The cabinet serves at the pleasure of the Premier. He could make a decision today to reduce it. In fact their campaign pledge was to reduce cabinet. Now after a year in government they still haven’t reduced it.

    This could be a substantial savings in annual expenditure.

    The public needs to demand it!

  5. boogiedownproductions says:

    How u expecting the Premier to down size Cabinet when he has no knowledge of how to run a business. All this Goverment wants to do is BUST UP ALL DE UNIONS besides de Police and put us in a state of true poverty. I hope and pray that before they sack or redundant any workers even tho some deserve to be, they downsize Parliament and Cabinet. In this case they will show leadership from the top. This will take time so why haven’t they started to form a Boundarys Commission to get the ball rolling. True politics at its best

  6. Walter Burgess says:

    Make the MP’s full time, and reduce the number down to no more than 9 including the position of Premier……

    Just my view:

    -Walter Burgess

  7. Opinions says:

    Yes reduce asap

  8. LOL(original tm and all that) says:

    For a population of 60K, on a 20 mile island? Is there a reason we need more than 2 per parish for a total of 18? Or 3 max depending on size of parish? Why do we need 36 politicians on the hill, most of which you rarely/never hear from but they’re collecting a tax-payer funded salary while likely working elsewhere getting a full salary?

  9. swing voter says:

    I think they will reduce cabinet for one reason only….to set an example of shared sacrifice. I say go one step further. Rip a page from the Bloomberg example….work for $1 per year until you prove you are better at running this little speck of nothingness than the F&F PLP. If the Mayor of New York city can do it, what’s the problem with OBA MPs who all own businesses, or benefit from family wealth, or earn high 6 figure salaries working for some big company. C’mon OBA you can do it!

    • terry says:

      Because he is a BILLIONARE…………………….

      • swing voter says:

        And Bloomberg ran a Hundred Billion Dollar City but that’s not the point Terry. The point is public service on the MP level should be just that, a service (as opposed to a side hustle for wealthy MPs)….Dunkley, Gibbons, Cannonier, Gordon,the legal eagles etc etc all do very well without the $160K/year hustle cash…..go figure

      • Victor says:

        Oh, you mean like one of our former PLP Premiers. Of course, Bloomberg earned his billions.

    • Sandy Bottom says:

      When the plp were in all they did was increase mp and ministerial salaries, pension, the lot. Just sayin.

      • swing voter says:

        which it will be a honorable gesture if the OBA reduced salaries to zero (yes $00000.00)

    • Robert says:

      What a load of waffle !!!!

      • Robert says:

        Swing voter, our island and its peolpe are not a speck of nothingness !!!!!!

        • swing voter says:

          Hey Robby, a previous analogy by Sir “Elder Statesman” puts it into language you may understand ” on the bigger scheme of global economics, Bermuda is smaller than a pimple on an elephants azz!” go figure…..

        • Triangle Drifter says:

          But we are nothing more than a small town anywhere else. We do like to strut around like we really are something special. Reality is sinking in that no, we are not.

  10. Victor says:

    Six Cabinet Ministers, Nine MPs can run this place no problem. Possibly get rid of the senate too.

    • Balanced Facts says:

      Nine MP’s and get rid of the Senate? Really? Thats your informed idea? Really? Please expand on your logic?

  11. Impressive says:

    at present,, why don’t we keep the cabinet as it is and just get rid of the Premier,, he is the one which needs to hire people to help him look competent and to do his job.. Just let the cabinet as a group talk as a collective body in the vein the the so called Premier attempts to.

    The cabinet is the not the issue at the moment, its the Premier.. I think the cabinet is relatively effective and actually attempting to make a change

    • Robert says:

      Our constitution requires us to have a premier.

      • terry says:

        Change the Constitution.
        Have a conference like 1968.
        That’s right. The people did not call for one the PLP did.
        Shalom.

    • Mike Hind says:

      What a ridiculous load of nonsense.

      Is there no low you won’t stoop to to push this silly bit of propaganda?

      • Impressive says:

        Propaganda, no sir, its a farce

        • Mike Hind says:

          Yes. The false message you’re trying to push IS a farce.

          • Impressive says:

            Mike,, with all due respect, You have your opinion and I have mind and I am solid in my stance..

            I really don’t know how you can’t see what is right in front of your eyes.. proof you are going to ask,, well the proof is my instinct and common sense. Frankly I am offended that the OBA keep going with this deception, and its an insult to my intelligence that Craig Cannonier continues to be the leader of this country. The OBA is not my party, but I do think they have some good people and to be honest, they assumed the role of government at a difficult time. However, I would have a greater deal of respect for the party if they had more respect for me, and for them continuing along this road shows that they take me and others in this country for fools and I will stand by that until I die.

            You have Grant Gibbons, Michael Dunkley, Bob Richards, Trevor Moniz who could easily have been choses to be the leader of the party and by extension the leader of this country. Instead for whatever reasons they continue to push this veil of deception and try to in a subtle way, to persuade us that the current leader is up to the job. He lacks the intellect of even the opposition leader, let alone some of the members of his party.

            its a farce, and i am offended and tired of the nonsense,

            • Mike Hind says:

              No. What is a farce is this message you and others are trying to push. If he has speech writers, he’s following someone else’s agenda and is a puppet. If he speaks off the cuff and shows strength, it’s bluster and bravado or he’s being rude and disrespectful.
              Of all the guys you’ve mentioned, ALL of them have been smeared just as bad as the Premier, for just as trumped up charges. “Racist dog”, “recipient of historical inequality”… There is no pleasing folks like you. You will always find something wrong with an OBA premier. I just wish you’d have an ounce of honesty about it.

  12. campervan says:

    Reducing the size of cabinet could be done by morning calisthenics on the cabinet lawn and adhering to the paleo diet.

  13. Takbir Karriem Sharrieff says:

    To tell the truth it is better to have less blockheads …blocking progress than more blockheads …blocking progress….Better for Bermuda’s …Best and Brightest in Parliament than a few stumbling blocks blocking our progress as it stands now…! The People will ultimately have the …Final say if they mislead us or …try to….Bermuda is now a very Vociforicous …outspoken community …and very …very…very ..enlightened ….no worry.Lose some of the fat…!

  14. Joonya says:

    Get rid of the lot of ‘em.. both sides.. and hold monthly referendums for major decisions on issues affecting the Island’s longevity and prosperity. I would gladly give my time every month. The Party Bickering System is taking up all the energy and we are still dead in the water..

  15. ABM says:

    Did no one notice that Bermuda is at the bottom end of the spectrum on the graph? Cayman Islands which is smaller than Bermuda is above us as well. IJS

  16. Tommy Chong says:

    We already have one commenter naive enough to think the government will agree to cutting seats that earn them O SO MUCH for doing O SO LITTLE. If they were such patriots to the cause they would have agreed to cut their salaries substantially far before SAGE Commission’s creation. All of them do quite well with their non-governmental endeavours & don’t need the tax payers money for survival. I don’t expect them to not be paid for what they do as they’re not slaves but they are servants of the people & servants don’t get CEO wages.

    I have little doubt that when it comes to cuts they will start at the bottom with civil servants with promises to work their way up but conveniently will never get to it.

  17. Chalky White says:

    we have the same size cabinet (13) as the United States and 5 times the number of Civil Servants as the United States for this dinky little island….are we over Governed? Plus the Westminster System makes little sense for what amounts to a small town….and we still get nothing done

  18. Observer says:

    The Loyal Opposition should be reduced for destroying Bda.

  19. Sara says:

    Absolutely YES, the graph above says it all! It’s not as if having this overfilled government has produced a utopia as it should have with all the money that was coming in at one time!