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One-stop shop is just a dream...

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ONE of the surprises to emerge from last week's Institute of Directors annual conference was how close the island came to losing Sportingbet as one of its premier new businesses.

ONE of the surprises to emerge from last week's Institute of Directors annual conference was how close the island came to losing Sportingbet as one of its premier new businesses.

As a leading example of a new generation of employers requiring fresh skills and talents, it is a clean and welcome addition to Guernsey's portfolio of wealth earning operations and a provider of jobs.

Yet this island was the least attractive destination – other than for the excellence of Alderney's gambling regulator – because of the difficulty of getting the government decision makers to take those decisions.

Indeed, Sportingbet was reduced to getting one department to lobby another to facilitate its arrival here – hardly the open door policy the island ought to be promoting.

This damaging lack of co-ordination appeared to disturb the chief minister, a panel member, who said that a one-stop shop approach ought to be adopted. He was swiftly challenged from the audience.

Surely even if all the ministers and all their chief officers were available in the same room, no decisions would be possible. The system of government here means that each minister would have to go back to his department to get any undertaking ratified. It is exactly the same nonsense that allowed Environment to thwart the will of the Assembly over paid parking.

Yet the chief minister is correct. It is vital for government to be able to provide a professional service for businesses thinking of establishing here especially if, as identified by the conference, Guernsey is to diversify its industrial base.

The issue, then, is how it goes about establishing a one-stop shop and, in turn, how departments like Housing delegate decision-making from the full committee to, say, the minister and director of housing control.

In turn, that would mean States members who were, for example, opposed to firms like Sportingbet, putting their prejudices to one side in favour of the greater island benefit instead of constantly chipping away at that which they do not like.

Sadly, that is not an influence deputies will relinquish and is why a one-stop shop can never be created – to the detriment of this island.

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