For the first time in years, no amendments have been drawn up to the Budget, which for next year includes £527m. of expenditure.
Deputy John Gollop, who has seen more than 20 budgets delivered in his time in the States, believes that the looming GST debate could be the reason why his colleagues have not come forward with alternative suggestions for the Budget.
‘Perhaps the most obvious reason is kicking the tax debate down the road until July means this budget is an interim holding exercise,’ he said.
‘And Deputy Helyar is still on a honeymoon night before disillusionment sets in, but the body politic appears to be more in love with Policy & Resources than usual.
‘And the tantalising prospect, however remote, of a new corporate tax regime to replace zero-10 is another disincentive for budget controversy or radicalism.
‘The focus now is on action for the infrastructure rather than deep scrutiny of policy or economics. The better-than-expected economic recovery and a milder budget won’t have inspired people either.
Last year there were 12 amendments laid to the Budget, the year before that there were 22, and in 2018 there was 42 amendments.
The main headline from the latest Budget was that 2021 has seen an unexpectedly strong recovery from the Covid with strong income tax returns, a particularly buoyant housing market, and substantial customs duties because of reduced access to duty free.
A surplus of £22m. is predicted for next year, alongside plans for increased government spending.
Deputy Gollop said the political lines within the States could also be a factor in what is currently set to be an amendment-free zone.
‘The informal class of 20 “coalition” majority are broadly satisfied with the Budget package and the traditional minority dissenters don’t see much point in organised dissent and debate.
‘But I know some progressive-minded members are privately unhappy there isn’t more budget radicalism in terms of redistribution or tax breaks, of specific incentives for micro economic development.’
Amendments may still allowed to be laid, but only if they have no financial cost attached.
The Budget debate is due to start on Tuesday 2 November.