Guernsey Press

GST the main reason for deputy quitting her place on P&R

FORMER Policy & Resources vice-president Heidi Soulsby has confirmed that she quit the committee due to her opposition to its proposals on tax reform and specifically her objection to the introduction of a goods and services tax.

Deputies Gavin St Pier and Heidi Soulsby presented the ‘Fairer Alternative’ proposals to the media on Friday, then informed P&R members of them over the weekend. (Picture by Luke Le Prevost, 31677544)

Her alternative approach, accompanied by a 40-page dossier of costed proposals, would retain the reform of social security contributions in the original P&R policy letter.

This reform has been enthusiastically espoused by Employment & Social Security president Deputy Peter Roffey, but he has argued that it relies on the revenue raised by a new GST.

Deputy Soulsby’s assessment is that other measures can be taken to fund it, including modest reductions of the States’ overall budget and a reduction in the programme of capital projects.

‘Instead of trying to do lots of things and ending up doing them badly, we need to try to do fewer things and do them well,’ she said.

By reducing the expectation of spending on capital projects from 2% of gross domestic product to 1.5%, as it was previously, the group of deputies backing the Soulsby amendment calculate they can save £19m. annually from the structural deficit.

‘We’ve never spent at that level on a consistent basis because the island’s capacity for capital projects is constrained by our size and available internal and external resources,’ she said.

‘Taken with the revenue-raising measures we have included, we have bridged the gap that we were told could only be achieved through bringing in GST.’

Further measures include an environmental tax on visiting cruise ships, which is expected to raise at least £500k and a visitor levy, estimated to be worth £2m. A tax on the benefit in kind of workplace parking could raise another £500k.