Guernsey Press

'Fairer alternative' version two put to P&R

States members behind the defeated ‘fairer alternative’ tax plan have drafted a revised version with which they hope to secure the support of Policy & Resources.

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Deputy Heidi Soulsby heading to the States on the first day of the debate. (Picture by Luke Le Prevost, 31725427)

Heidi Soulsby said that they were working to ‘restore order from chaos’ after three days of debate ended on Friday with the Assembly in deadlock over future levels of tax and spending.

She and two of her supporters – Deputies Gavin St Pier and Sasha Kazantseva-Miller – have presented P&R with a fresh amendment which would provide a straight yes/no vote on GST, followed by alternative proposals for raising more income if, as expected, GST is defeated.

‘Everyone knows that P&R’s package, including GST, is doomed to fail, so we need to work on an alternative solution that salvages the situation and provides us with a positive way forward,’ said Deputy Soulsby.

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‘This should include an option for deputies expressly to vote for or against GST, so the decisions are clearly recorded for the public to see.

‘We were encouraged by P&R’s response to our composite amendment and to hear that they are also keen to work on a way forward. We hope that this continues. If we care about Guernsey’s future, we can’t continue in this state of uncertainty.’

The original ‘fairer alternative’ plan – which was defeated by 16 votes to 24 – excluded GST, but included setting aside less every year for one-off capital projects, a new financial levy on companies, higher property rates on private parking at offices, a charge on cruise ship passengers and an investigation into a levy on all tourists.

Deputy Soulsby’s latest draft still excludes GST, but is understood also to exclude some of the revenue-raising measures which discouraged deputies from voting for her original amendment and left it five votes short of a majority.

‘We will keep trying to work with all sides of the Assembly in an attempt to arrive at a workable solution,’ said Deputy St Pier.

‘We suggested and drafted a composite amendment which would enable a clean vote and a clear decision on GST or no GST. Importantly, it would include the key parts of the corporate tax and spending reviews which the fairer alternative offered, along with some immediate revenue-raising measures and social security reform.’

Deputy Kazantseva-Miller said it was now up to P&R to decide whether to back the new draft amendment.

‘As things stand, the ball really is in their court,’ she said.

‘We think it’s important that there is openness and transparency about what’s happening between now and the continuation of the debate.’

At the end of debate on Friday, P&R president Deputy Peter Ferbrache said his committee remained determined to force a straight yes/no vote on GST.

But he admitted that GST was likely to be defeated and that chances of the States failing to agree a long-term plan were rising.

P&R is expected to discuss the revised ‘fairer alternative’ draft amendment when it meets tomorrow.

The States’ landmark tax and spending debate resumes on Wednesday 15 February.