Why island is in a class of its own

NOW that the list of proposed amendments to the financial transformation programme States debate has been published, it is clear just how much under threat the process is from deputies who really should know better.

NOW that the list of proposed amendments to the financial transformation programme States debate has been published, it is clear just how much under threat the process is from deputies who really should know better.

To date, the closet opposition has been from those who would prefer to tax and spend. Now it is evident that there is also hostility from a group whose primary objective is to prevent departments and the Policy Council from providing any leadership.

Superficially on message with FTP, the most pernicious of the amendments seek to tie up the process in red tape and, ultimately, to ensure that the Assembly as a whole gets to steer the process, hamstringing any prospect of effectiveness.

When what was Tribal Helm embarked on the process in 2009, its highly-skilled and motivated consultants did so on the basis that the States of Guernsey was inherently rational and it and the civil service was a coherent entity focused on achieving corporate goals, such as saving money.

They could not have been more wrong and probably bitterly regret getting involved at all. When the lead consultant was penning his devastating ‘profligate culture’ opening to the first FTP report, he and his team were confident that they could lead the States through the initial soft savings into much more challenging areas, where greater savings could be found.

This optimism saw the lead civil servant at the time declare: ‘I describe it as an objective for evolution. It gets you to the same place as a revolution but without the blood and bodies.’

Now, of course, it is a different picture, without anything being fired. And even a separate computer modernisation programme costed to be self-funding and save 50 posts has achieved only 30.

Before deputies vote on FTP, they should consider how this looks to islanders, most of whom will be aware of businesses that have had to contract and save cost without harming customers.

Despite that, many States members believe that Guernsey is the only jurisdiction that cannot trim its expenditure and should increase taxes instead.

It is, literally, unbelievable.