Guernsey Press

GST worries top the agenda again at tax review roadshow

MORE worries about the possible introduction of a goods and services tax was the main topic at the second tax review drop-in, as the island’s most senior politician said tough decisions must be made soon.

Policy & Resources president Deputy Peter Ferbrache and fellow committee members were taking islanders’ views on board at Saturday’s tax review roadshow in the Vale. (Picture by Luke Le Prevost, 30598364)

There was a steady stream of people at the Vale Douzaine Room on Saturday morning, with islanders keen to share their thoughts on the tax review with members of the Policy & Resources Committee.

Peter Ferbrache said the first people arrived before 10am start time, as they were so keen to talk to them.

‘Most the people who have spoken to me this morning were hesitant about GST,’ he said.

‘They worry it is a regressive tax. We have tried to address that.

‘We are not wedded to any particular tax, but GST is something we have got to consider.’

A Guernsey Press survey of deputies, published last week, found that there was overwhelming political resistance to a GST.

Deputy Ferbrache said he was not surprised by those findings, but said the Assembly had to make some tough decisions soon.

‘It’s a challenge,’ he said. ‘But we can’t kick the can down the road.’

Originally it had been hoped the matter would be debated in July. Deputy Ferbrache said it was important that deputies felt there was full consultation and all the options had to explored and that might now delay the debate.

But he wanted the matter debated this year.

Business owner Chris Renouf, 60, was one of the people keen to share his thoughts. He said that islanders were already struggling with rising prices on items like milk and fuel. In his case he was already only driving when essential and was looking at swapping fresh milk to powdered to cut his costs.

He owns a gym and said that among university students attending in the holidays, he found many were not looking to come back, due to Guernsey’s high cost of living.

He felt that the States should be doing more to keep those young people, and instead look at increasing taxes on the wealthy.

‘I’m not saying we should soak them,’ he said. ‘I have nothing against rich people, but it should be balanced.’

But he was worried that even if a sensible solution was found, the States would not necessarily come together to support it.

Paul Holloway, 74, said rather than GST, he thought the States should instead be looking increasing property tax and having a tax on new vehicles.

‘One thing many islanders think is the wealthy should pay more,’ he said.

‘One of the ways of doing that is where people who can afford a new car could afford a tax on that new car.’

He accepted that there was no silver bullet, but a range of options should be looked at.

One small business owner, who asked not to be named, said a GST was her biggest worry.

‘I realise we need more money, but maybe they should look at other avenues first,’ she said. ‘GST should be the last resort.’

Future events

The next tax review roadshow will be held at 7pm on Wednesday in at Alderney’s Island Hall.

There will be another at Beau Sejour on 26 March.

One planned roadshow at Cobo was postponed and has yet to be rescheduled.