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Economic Development plan ‘all over the place’

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AN ACTION plan supposed to drive Guernsey’s prosperity has come under searing criticism as being ‘all over the place’.

Jon Moulton told Chamber of Commerce members at their regular lunch yesterday that Economic Development’s 20-point action plan was ‘all over the place’. (Picture by Steve Sarre, 21760387)

Businessman Jon Moulton yesterday tore into the 20-point priority list published by Economic Development as he called for more focus on achievable steps to deliver growth.

In particular, he said, supporting the finance industry as the largest sector of the economy could have the biggest positive impact.

‘Nobody can deliver 20 actions. Nobody can remember them. So, it’s definitely too many,’ said Mr Moulton, who was the guest speaker at the Chamber of Commerce’s regular lunch.

He said that the priorities were ‘all over the place’ and in ‘some cases quite happily contradicting one another’.

Mr Moulton added: ‘The Committee for Economic Development has had turnover rather like first lieutenants at the Somme. Actually with elections also getting in the way, then things that need to straddle elections simply fall apart. New mob arrive and what do they do? They start a new study.’

A large number of the priorities and the reasoning behind them were called into question during his address.

Meanwhile, the audience was warned that government throwing money at things was ‘usually completely wasted’ – with markets and investors being more efficient in supporting innovation.

‘You really need to be thinking about reinforcing success,’ said the businessman who has a successful background in venture capitalism and chairs The International Stock Exchange Group.

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Signalling the need for a more focused approach, Mr Moulton said that support for the island’s finance sector was the most important priority. Such action would have the largest economic impact given the industry’s size and productivity, he said.

‘This is where the growth should be coming. It’s not coming at the moment. The industry is roughly flat-lining, so we need to get that right. This is the one that I think really does need some help.’

Reforming the ‘still too complicated’ population management controls to ease skills shortages could also help, said Mr Moulton, along with attracting high net-worth individuals who would invest locally.

Cutting red tape and ensuring the right levels of taxation were other areas that could drive prosperity.

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Education was ‘the longest-term government intervention there is’.

‘What you’re doing now with your 10 year-olds will be a big difference to the economy in 15 years.

‘That needs to be remembered’, he added.

Will Green

By Will Green
Business Editor

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