David Cameron *AFP photo
David Cameron *AFP photo

Premier Craig Cannonier earns more than British Prime Minister David Cameron.

Mr Cannonier earns a gross salary of more than $207,000 — while, after UK income tax and other statutory deductions, Mr Cameron’s salary is reduced from just over $215,000 to $132,000.

Even allowing for the nearly $10,000 Mr Cannonier pays in payroll tax, he still comes out around $64,000 ahead of the UK PM. The figures, however, do not take account of pension and other deductions for either leader.

Mr Cannonier is in charge of a population of around 65,000 on 21 square miles, while Mr Cameron’s Tory/Liberal Democrat coalition has nearly 65 million people spread over more than 667,000 square miles to worry about.

The issue of salaries for senior public figures draws extra scrutiny at a time of economic hardship and job and salary cuts. 

Peter Everson, co-chairman of the Chamber of Commerce's Economics Committee,  points out that, compared to the median income in both the UK and Bermuda, we get a reasonable deal – although he said, overall, Government in Bermuda is too expensive.

The median income in the UK is $40,000, while in Bermuda it is $58,698 – which means Mr Cannonier earns around 3.5 times the median – less than Mr Cameron, who earns 5.3 times the median British salary before tax deductions.

The cost of living in most parts of the UK is generally much lower than Bermuda, while Mr Cameron not only gets his official residence at 10, Downing Street, but the use of the country estate Chequers as well.

The Cayman Islands, a similar jurisdiction to Bermuda and with a population of 56,729, pays its Premier on a pay scale between $185,000 and $210,000.

The Premier of the Turks & Caicos Islands, which has a population of 39,184 and like Bermuda, no income tax, gets $140,000 a year – recently reduced from $150,000.

The Prime Minister of Canada, which has a population of 35 million, takes home $308,937 before tax, while the US President, who runs a country of 314 million people, gets $400,000 a year before tax, plus a non-taxable $100,000 travel allowance, $50,000 to cover expenses and a $19,000 entertainment budget.

Premier Cannonier’s salary figure includes a ten per cent pay cut, fulfilling a pledge made before December’s general election, which saw the OBA oust the PLP after 14 years in power.

His predecessor, the PLP’s Paula Cox, earned just over $224,000 before deductions, although she doubled up as Minister of Finance as well.

Mr Everson said there were two reasons for paying politicians well – one was that high salaries were needed to attract competent people and the other was that, if they weren’t paid well, they might be more tempted to resort to “improper practices” to bolster their incomes.

He added, however, that Bermuda could be run with seven Ministers, almost half the current total of 12 and a smaller Civil Service.

Mr Everson said: “The operating costs of Government are substantially higher than the economy can afford, so we have a structural deficit in the Budget.”

And he predicted that pressure on public services would intensify between 2015 and 2030 as the last of the baby boomer generation reached old age.

He said: “The demand for public services is going to increase substantially simply because of the age of the Bermuda population.”