POLITICAL pundit Peter Roffey sets out in today's paper his assessment of the issues facing the island’s government and elected leaders in 2014 and few, one suspects, will disagree with his analysis that there are some big ticket items to deal with
POLITICAL pundit Peter Roffey sets out in today's paper his assessment of the issues facing the island’s government and elected leaders in 2014 and few, one suspects, will disagree with his analysis that there are some big ticket items to deal with.
To a large extent, however, it is what isn’t on the published agenda that is more worrying.
The Commerce and Employment minister touched on it when he said that the island’s financial services sector is running out of steam. It isn’t, but the Klondike days have gone and increased competition, regulation and costs of operating here mean it will be a fight to retain and expand what we have currently.
Nothing betters finance for creating well paid jobs with good prospects and government funding is now heavily dependent on the income tax paid by individuals in employment.
If finance is under pressure, retail, the other dominant employment sector, is clearly struggling. These two things have implications for future school leavers and, as Alderney and Sark are acutely aware, communities without jobs start to fade.
This is not to be alarmist but all islands have an economic and social life cycle and the stages, from start-up to rapid growth followed by maturity and decline, are well understood.
From work done by leading local researcher Island Analysis, islands generally slide into crisis as part of that cycle before being forced into reinventing themselves.
Crisis, of course, can be just that. Or it can be a major industry ceasing to play its once dominant part and economic circumstances triggering a partial reinvention and a pursuit of new employment opportunities.
The point, however, is that these cycles have to be observed and, above all, acted upon. What Peter Roffey’s column reinforces is how this administration in particular is slow to do anything.
Where action is taken to respond to imminent crisis – potential loss of fuel tankers or industrial action closing the airport – the political system calls foul and degenerates into paralysis and finger-pointing.
While government has a lot on its agenda, the real priorities are the economy and jobs – and becoming sufficiently fleet of foot to protect both.