Guernsey Press

Poll-toppers propose 'fairer alternative' to GST

Guernsey's two poll-topping politicians have come together to draft a ‘fairer alternative’ to a goods and services tax and will try to persuade their fellow States members to adopt it at next week’s States meeting.

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Deputy Heidi Soulsby at the media presentation of an alternative to Policy & Resources GST plan. (Picture by Luke Le Prevost, 31677520)

Former deputy chief minister Heidi Soulsby – seconded by former chief minister Gavin St Pier – will place an amendment to the tax review which, if approved, would entirely replace all of Policy & Resources’ proposals and set government in a new direction on tax reform.

The two deputies claim their plan would reduce the predicted annual shortfall between the tax take and government spending by more than £62m., without needing to introduce GST.

‘The people of Guernsey don’t believe government has done enough to reduce its spending and I agree,’ Deputy Soulsby said.

‘There has been a growing inequality in Guernsey and the burden of taxation has fallen too much on households, but it’s not enough just to say “no to GST”. We need a more balanced approach.’

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The plan involves reducing spending in 2024 by 1%, excluding spending on health. The following year, another reduction of 1%, including health, is planned. If successful, this would generate annual savings of £9.3m.

Two special committees are proposed, one of which would review the role and size of government, while the other would investigate options for raising further revenue from the corporate sector.

Both deputies admitted that a GST might still need to be introduced at some point in the future but they had concluded that it could not be justified at this time.

‘The policy letter only partially addresses the problem, which means a higher rate of GST appears inevitable in due course,’ Deputy St Pier said.

‘About 43% of what it raises will be spent on the measures needed to mitigate its regressive effects, so it’s inherently inefficient.’

Deputy Soulsby agreed. ‘People can see for themselves that GST will rise.’

The pair claimed to have the support of half a dozen deputies, including Sasha Kazantseva-Miller and Steve Falla – who attended a presentation to the island’s media on Friday – and Lindsay de Sausmarez.

An amendment proposing similarly comprehensive changes has already been placed by former chief minister Charles Parkinson, a backer of the ‘say no to GST’ campaign.

He will present his case publicly this evening at an event at 6pm at St Pierre Park.