‘Even Donald Trump more realistic when it comes to taxation’
STATES members need to give themselves a ‘kick up the backside’ and get real about the prospect of putting taxes up, the Father of the House has said.
John Gollop, who clocks up 25 consecutive years in the States later this year, said that he had been convinced by the need for fundamental tax reform alongside a goods and services tax.
He claimed it would protect decent public services, allow for infrastructure investment, and tackle growing social inequality.
But in the face of continued strong opposition from many deputies, he said that many of his colleagues were in denial and needed to recognise some hard truths.
‘The frustration is my main message. States members prefer to live in a bubble, reinforced by social media and public opinion, that Guernsey can avoid having the kind of conversations that every other Western society has about taxation.
‘Even Donald Trump is more realistic about taxation than we are.
‘We kid ourselves that we can get out of this by a few savings here and there, selling off a few properties, and a bit of cutting here and there.
‘I regard the anti-GST States members as pseudo-Tories. In reality a GST wouldn’t hit the poorest hardest, especially with the mitigations – it hits the big spenders the hardest.’
A range of options are being considered in the tax review, but the two main ones are a GST or higher income tax.
Acknowledging that the public had received the potential for a GST as a ‘slap in the face’, Deputy Gollop believed the campaign was being tackled in the wrong way.
‘People who reject GST, what they’re effectively wanting or accepting as inevitable is that Guernsey will become a much more divided society, with everybody paying their own way.
‘We could start to do the unthinkable and you might see bus fares at £4 a time, you might see anyone who’s admitted to hospital with any money at all will be charged several hundred pounds a day, so we’ll be like an American state.
‘We won’t be able to do Nice drugs, we won’t be able to have an autism service, we won’t be able to have improvements.’
Deputy Gollop backed Policy & Resources Committee president Peter Ferbrache’s call for more deputies to put their heads above the parapet on the issue.
However he believed they were ‘scared’ to show some backbone because of GST’s unpopularity.
‘What people need is more straight-talking from politicians and they need more common sense and honesty.’