Recession escape 'not necessarily a good thing'

GUERNSEY might have escaped the worst of a recession during the global economic downturn – but that might not be such a good thing for the island, according to the president of the Chamber of Commerce.

Chamber of Commerce president Rupert Dorey.
Chamber of Commerce president Rupert Dorey.

GUERNSEY might have escaped the worst of a recession during the global economic downturn – but that might not be such a good thing for the island, according to the president of the Chamber of Commerce.

'Guernsey has had a good recession in some ways, and an awful one in other respects,' said Rupert Dorey.

'That might be the complete opposite to what you might expect me to say, and some people think we haven't even had a recession, but to me you can easily turn that on its head and say we have had a bad recession because we haven't had to make the difficult decisions we need to make, as only when your back's against the wall in a crisis situation are you forced to make difficult decisions.'

Mr Dorey accurately forecast that 2013 would be 'flat' for the local economy, and he expects a similar situation in 2014, even though Guernsey will look to take a lead from improving economic situation in the UK.

'It may be the fastest-growing western economy but its economy also fell off a cliff. If Guernsey had had a similar recession to the UK, our economy would now be 15% smaller than it was in 2008.'

And Mr Dorey said financial services would continue to make the 'most vital' contribution towards GDP in Guernsey.

'But we're not going to see anything like the growth we enjoyed in the early part of the century.

'The total output from that sector is broadly stable, it might even grow a bit, but I think the number of people employed will be a lot less. We are an expensive place to do business and employing people is one of the biggest parts of that.

'I believe that the industry will adapt and will continue to contribute the same amount to the economy, but may do that with less people. That is the direction of travel.'