Guernsey Press

‘If GST comes in, it’s the last straw for many local shops’

A GOODS and services tax will be the last straw for many Guernsey shops, people at yesterday’s rally were told, and they were urged to buy locally rather than shopping online.

People crowded into Market Square yesterday at the culmination of the rally. (Picture by Sophie Rabey, 31708732)

Guernsey Retail Group’s head of retail development Korinne Le Page was the main speaker at the event, which saw thousands cram into Market Square after marching from North Beach car park.

It was an event that was punctuated by singalong songs of protest, Deputy Liam McKenna acting as host, with Lance Vaudin, one of the group which had organised the event, acting as something of a rabble rouser in getting the crowd to voice their objections to the tax.

There were several other deputies present too, and not only those that put their names to the Say No To GST group.

In between songs from The Greatest Showman musical, Queen and Neil Diamond, Ms Le Page told people that in a survey carried out by the group, which represents local retailers, 26% had said that they would probably close if GST came in.

‘If GST comes in, it’s a last straw after Brexit, increased importation costs, increased cost of living and the staffing issues that we have.’

People did not want to come to work in the island anymore because it was too expensive, she said, and of those who did come her under licence, many moved to Jersey as soon as their time was up.

‘Before we introduce any new tax, which is not the silver bullet that’s going to solve all the problems and fill that big hole, we need to sort out the fundamental problems that we have, and this is what the retailers are saying,’ she said.

The rally also heard from Deputy Carl Meerveld, who this week will move a sursis motive in the States calling for debate to be deferred.

‘If GST comes in, it’s only going one way and that’s up,’ he said.

Mr Vaudin let the crowd have the last word: ‘What do we say to GST?’ he called. ‘No,’ came the shouted response.

Organising group member Rachel Presland said afterwards that she was delighted at the turnout.

‘We definitely had more than at the schools’ protest,’ she said, referring to another event in which she had been involved.

She said that people had been more outspoken against GST over the last few weeks, and in particular after the meeting hosted by Deputy Charles Parkinson last week in support of his amendment to pursue corporate tax options instead.