‘I’m not sure if we have the support to win the day’
POLICY & RESOURCES president Peter Ferbrache admitted at the weekend that he was unsure if his committee had convinced sufficient deputies to back the tax review proposals, with just over a week remaining until the matter is debated by the States.
The committee continued its drive to win over the public with a busy drop-in at Beau Sejour on Saturday.
A steady stream of people turned up throughout the morning, with all five members of P & R and Employment & Social Security president Deputy Peter Roffey all on hand to answer questions.
Deputy Ferbrache said the people he had spoken to were reluctant to see GST introduced, but could see that extra income was needed and there was no realistic alternative.
While some members of the public were becoming more accepting of the idea of GST, it is the politicians in the States chamber who will have the final say.
Deputy Ferbrache said he had invited deputies to speak to P&R, but only a few had done so. And this did not include Deputies Charles Parkinson or Gavin St Pier, who have already come out against P&R’s plans.
‘I don’t know if we have enough deputies to back it,’ Deputy Ferbrache said.
Retired construction industry worker John Wyatt, 73, said it had been helpful to ask the deputies a few questions.
He was concerned the public did not understand the proposals and their nuances.
‘Everyone is focused on GST, but it’s a whole review of tax and social insurance,’ he said.
‘We are reluctant to change. But we’ve got to do something.’
Retired couple Mary and David, who did not want to give their surname, said they were against the idea of GST. But the drop-in and the recent online Q & A session had helped them understand why it was being proposed.
They said P&R vice-president Deputy Mark Helyar had helped to explain everything.
‘We feel we accept what they are proposing,’ Mary said. ‘We feel it’s the prudent way forward.’
One man of working age, who did not wish to give his name, said he was keen to ask some questions.
He was concerned that deputies might be keen to follow Deputy Charles Parkinson’s amendment, which proposes increasing corporation tax to try and plug the States financial shortfall. He said he did not think this would be enough.
‘I don’t want GST, but we’ve got to find something,’ he said. ‘And Charles Parkinson’s proposals are not the way forward.’
Deputy Parkinson presents his plans at St Pierre Park Hotel tonight, where all 200 seats have been booked.
Deputy Ferbrache said the members of P&R would be attending.
Criticism on social media of use of comms team
THE States’ communications team has come in for criticism on social media for issuing a statement calling for deputies to reject a deputy’s amendment.
The States Greffier published Charles Parkinson’s tax review amendment on Friday lunchtime, with Deputy Parkinson giving the amendment his own publicity.
Within a few hours Policy & Resources had issued a statement through the States communications team urging deputies not to back it.
This included a statement sent out to the media, and statements published on the official States of Guernsey Facebook and Twitter accounts.
Members of the public criticised the move, saying that committees should not be able to use the States communications team to shoot down a deputy’s amendment.
Many argued that the States channels should be neutral.
In response, a States spokesman said that communications support was provided to all States committees to assist with explaining policy positions and, as appropriate, recommendations for change.
‘This is not unique to the Tax Review and has been standard practice across a whole range of topics over recent years,’ he said.
‘This extends to responding to opposition to those policy positions, through a range of channels, including the traditional media and social media.’
Deputy Parkinson is holding a sold-out meeting this evening to explain his amendment – an event he has organised himself.
The panel will include Deputy Liam McKenna, who seconded the amendment, former States economic adviser Andy Sloan, the Guernsey Retail Group’s Korinne Le Page and former Guernsey Motor Trade Association president Dave Beausire.