Can MLAs decline their salaries?

| 20/02/2017

Is it possible for an individual to “volunteer” for office? That is, if an individual is interested in politics and steering their country’s ship and is qualified to run as a candidate, is it possible for that person to run for office and, if elected, accept the seat with no or half the salary? If so, can provisions be made to exclude this individual from the payroll from the onset of their campaign in the event they are elected?

Auntie’s answer: While I was unable to get an official response since this is a hypothetical question concerning a scenario that has never arisen, I am under so such constraints.

People may recall that in a similar vein about six years ago Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) toyed with passing a motion that called for reduced pay but then thought better of it and voted it down.

I happen to think that giving up their salaries is a great idea for those MLAs who actually do not need all or part of their pay to get by. If the salary is not vital to support them or their family, why not do some good with it? They can think about supporting their favourite charity instead.

If nothing comes to mind, then I can offer some suggestions. What could be more important than ensuring our children have a good future? I cannot imagine that our MLAs would not vote for that motion.

Two non-profits run programmes that focus on providing meals for those youngsters who would otherwise go to school hungry. So, for starters, they can donate to Feed Our Future, which provides free or low-cost school meals, or the Kiwanis Club’s Buy a Kid Breakfast initiative.

I realise there are plenty of worthwhile charities in Cayman and I am happy for readers to make other suggestions for donations as well.

But seriously, if any of the MLAs who get elected in May do not really need to take a salary for their new jobs of serving the people, then please consider serving our young people in a very direct way.

I look forward to candidates making a campaign promise to donate some or all of their paycheques to the causes I mentioned or one that has meaning to them. (Or just give it back to the Treasury, though I am not sure of the protocol for doing that.)

I am absolutely sure no one would complain if any of our elected officials decided to use their salary to support a charity.

However, if an MLA pledges to make that donation and fails to do so, and I hear about it, let’s just say the publicity would not be good.

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Category: Ask Auntie, MLA Questions

Comments (12)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Anyone can refuse their salary or stipend. Public or private sector. I serve on a board and have refused to accept my stipend for years. If an elected official donated all/part of their monthly salary to (different) charity that could go a long way to stopping the constituent begging.

    • Anonymous says:

      I dont know about refusing salaries i remember hearing years ago that the late miss annie.bodden refused to collect her pension after leaving the house even thr she lived for about five years after

  2. Anonymous says:

    I don’t care too much about what MLAs do “with” their salary, but it would be nice if we could devise a scheme to ensure that they do something “for” their salary.

  3. Ian Boxall JP says:

    Dear Auntie,
    I would like to correct your response to this question.
    In the mid-seventies, the idea of building a home for wayward boys on a parcel of land in West Bay which had become available was discussed by the Rotary Club of Grand Cayman. Several members thought it was a dream too far, but in a burst of youthful enthusiasm I put my hand up and was put in charge of raising the estimated cost of $100,000 to build it. My theory was that if we could raise 10% of that, the dream would become believable. Funds were slow to come in at the beginning, so I borrowed the idea of asking Rotarians to participate in a 10-mile sponsored walk, a first for Cayman at the time. Not only did the walk raise the initial target of $10,000 but the idea of a large group of mostly portly, middle-aged Rotarians trudging 10 miles on a hot Saturday morning caught the imagination of the Caymanian public in a major way. Individuals, companies, banks and other service clubs, notably the Lions, all realised what a benefit to the community this could be and delved deep into their charity giving. The popular and highly respected Ms Frances Bodden won our competition to choose the name and Bonaventure House was started to be built.
    As the building progressed, the funds we had dwindled, but help soon arrived. I had a call to say that (then) recently elected MLA Jim Bodden wanted to see me. He told me that he was so impressed with the project that he was going to donate his salary as an MLA until it was built. With his support and the efforts of Rotarians who donated building, painting and landscaping skills, the Rotary Club of Grand Cayman’s grandest dream became a reality.
    Jim did not want publicity for his generosity, but I believe the answer that there is a precedent is timely.

    • Anonymous says:

      Hmm, your story would have carried more weight, Ian, if it wasn’t Jim that was the MLA that donated his salary. At that time he had massive income inflow from various sources-you knew the realtor guys too-so his salary as an MLA which at that time was very small would not have been something he missed at all.

      • Anonymous says:

        8.07pm You tried to promote negativity, all you did was to support Auntie,s suggestion of giving it to charity if you don’t need it.

      • Anonymous says:

        It doesn’t matter. He still donated it. Many with multiple income streams would not donate no matter how much they had coming in to them. For others that would donate, they would ensure that everyone knew of the contributions.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Far too many of our MLAs over the years actually need that salary because it is the only job they can get and hold for four years at least.

  5. Anonymous says:

    When pigs fly Auntie when pigs fly. They don’t have the integrity of the MLAs of old and I know several of them could do without that pay.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I’d be strongly in favour of broadening eligibility to those long-standing Caymanians, not born directly of these islands, if they were willing to decline compensation as well as soft-dollar business conflicts and forego cronyism. What else would someone have to do to demonstrate their sense of duty and love for this territory? There are competent forward-thinking “captains of industry” – not driven by ego or self-profit (that have already secured their retirements) – that would suddenly become eligible. Why not benefit from the willing service from this category of intelligence? I think we’ve all fatigued of the “self-service buffet” that has been the CIG for the last few regimes.