Extra taxpayer support for finance 'is money well spent'

A DECISION to put more taxpayer funds into promoting Guernsey’s finance sector has been defended robustly by the politician in charge of the industry.

Neil Inder, president of Economic Development, said financial services were vital to the island and deserving of the money.

His comments followed an announcement by the Guernsey Financial Services Commission that the industry was at its busiest in a decade, and staff shortages were fuelling wage inflation.

Deputy David De Lisle said considering this buoyancy, the public might ‘ponder’ the ever-increasing sums given to Guernsey Finance, the marketing body that promotes the sector.

Deputy Inder gave that suggestion short shrift.

Deputy David De Lisle posed the question of how much money was given to support the finance industry. (Picture by Cassidy Jones, 29968192)

‘There’s a reason that the finance sector works in Guernsey – because it’s well supported, well promoted, well loved and well liked, and we spend money recognising that.

‘That’s all related to promotional activity that’s to ensure Guernsey is selling itself in the international arena, and identifies what it’s doing well and where it’s not doing so well and making amends. And all power to its elbow, because without that, and a robust finance industry, this island would be having very different conversations indeed.’

In a presidential update statement to the Assembly, Deputy Inder also gave an upbeat assessment of the state of tourism.

He said that Guernsey and Alderney experienced occupancy levels last month of around 72%.

This month is on target to be roughly the same, and the industry was anticipating strong levels of interest for next year.

‘I can also report to the Assembly that there are currently over 120 cruise liners booked in to visit Guernsey in 2022 and, notwithstanding border controls, it’s looking like a bumper year.

‘The world economy is bouncing back, Guernsey is a destination port, and this is indeed very good news for the island.’

Regarding the airport runway, Deputy Inder said as long as a business case stacked up, plans would be taken to the States to make a decision on extending it.

‘The work to update last year’s Frontier Economics cost-benefit analysis in the light of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on air travel is completed. And there are changes to the modelling from the initial report, but the conclusions remain unchanged – over a 40-year period there is a projected net economic benefit from extending the runway.’

Deputy John Gollop asked if the report on the pros and cons of establishing a Guernsey University would come before the States, but that idea was rejected. ‘Not on my watch’, said Deputy Inder.

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