Public trust ‘shattered’ after no decision on GST

Public trust in the States will be ‘shattered’ after this week’s debate on tax and spending, Deputy Heidi Soulsby said last night, as the government ended the week, as expected, having failed to make a final decision on the Tax Review and a goods and services tax.

Policy & Resources president Deputy Peter Ferbrache said it was ‘at least a possibility’ the States would reject its tax and Social Security proposals when debate resumes next month. (31732640)
Policy & Resources president Deputy Peter Ferbrache said it was ‘at least a possibility’ the States would reject its tax and Social Security proposals when debate resumes next month. (31732640)

However deputies did reject an offer to continue debate on Tuesday, and have now deferred the debate until the next scheduled States meeting on 15 February.

They also rejected both Deputy Soulsby’s and Deputy Charles Parkinson’s bids to radically change the tax package, and quickly dumped a near-sursis bid pulled together by Deputy Carl Meerveld over the course of yesterday morning.

  • Podcast: Matt Fallaize and Mark Ogier recap Friday's debate on our 'Shorthand States' round-up

Deputy Soulsby cut a frustrated figure after the defeat of her ‘fairer alternative’ and predicted that nothing meaningful would now be decided by the States next month, which she said would ‘baffle’ islanders.

‘I’m fearful we’re going to end up with nothing out of this whole debate and I think the public will really be fed up,’ she said.

‘I said in my closing speech that I think the public have lost trust in government. After this week, I think they will be in despair.’

Policy & Resources president Deputy Peter Ferbrache admitted that it was now a very real prospect that the States would fail to make any positive decision on resolving the financial deficit.

  • Watch: Deputy Peter Ferbrache said there should now be a straight vote on GST

‘That is at least a possibility. We could end up at the conclusion of the debate with no long-term solution.’

And he accepted that GST was almost certainly not going to receive members’ backing.

‘I’m not confident, I think we will not be successful with the GST vote.’

However there was talk yesterday about potential compromise solutions and the longer delay may mean that could be a more likely prospect.

‘I’d like to sit down with Guy Hands and discuss his idea’

A proposal from the billionaire investor and Guernsey resident Guy Hands to introduce a new tax on open market properties could be taken up by the Policy & Resources Committee.

Deputy Peter Ferbrache told the States he wanted to investigate Mr Hands’ proposal, which was published yesterday in the Guernsey Press.

The billionaire open market resident, who bought Guernsey’s most expensive house in December 2021 for £15m., has suggested a 1% tax on the value of open market homes.

‘Guy Hands wrote an excellent letter. That may be something we could look at,’ said Deputy Ferbrache.

‘I’d like to sit down with an intelligent man who has come up with a solution. It’s a helpful, constructive suggestion from a member of our community.’

It is estimated that an annual levy of 1% on open market properties could raise additional income of around £20m. a year for the States.

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