Guernsey Press

‘Put Bailiwick’s best interests before your own popularity’

P&R president Peter Ferbrache is appealing to his fellow politicians to set aside fears of losing popularity and put the islands first ahead of next week’s tax debate.

Deputy Peter Ferbrache. (Picture by Sophie Rabey, 31781965)

‘Look at the best interests of the Bailiwick – not the best interests of anyone’s political career,’ he has told his colleagues in the States.

Deputy Ferbrache has admitted he was not confident the Assembly will back P&R’s preferred option A tax plan. It includes 5% GST, a new lower band of income tax, higher personal allowances and social security reforms to take less off lower earners and more off higher earners.

‘I’m disappointed that some deputies have boxed themselves in,’ he said.

‘They’ve boxed themselves in with rash promises against GST or going on a march saying no to GST. That’s the trouble with being too dogmatic at an early stage.’

Deputy Ferbrache praised Employment & Social Security president Peter Roffey – a key supporter of P&R’s option A – for being ‘splendid’ and ‘consistent throughout’. But he had harsh words for Deputy Roffey’s colleagues on the committee.

‘Deputy Roffey is an experienced politician with a social conscience. But I’m very disappointed that not one of his committee are supporting our plans.

‘You would expect those people to have writ large on their forehead – “we’re looking after the poor, we’re concerned about the less well-off”.’

We’re out of time – newest P&R member on change of mind

DEPUTIES who had set themselves against GST need to realise that they were mistaken, one of them has admitted.

Bob Murray, a former member of the low-tax Guernsey Party, who was elected to P&R only in November, said that deputies who, like him, were originally opposed to GST and other tax rises – even when P&R was projecting a deficit of the same size in 2020 – needed to see the error of their stance.

‘If we don’t sort this, the black hole will get deeper and deeper – we’re out of time,’ said Deputy Murray.

‘There were three reasons I changed my mind.

‘I was able fully to understand the extent of the deficit. When it became apparent Treasury had identified an £85m. deficit, the gig was up. We can’t cut our way to £85m.

‘Second, Treasury showed deputies that GST could be entirely progressive as a package of equitable impact.

‘Third, GST introduces more money we can’t have at the moment, for example from visitors and companies, which local people then don’t have to find.’

Deputy Murray doubted that deputies opposed to P&R’s options A and B could come up with a better alternative package.

‘Their backs are against the wall. I will be interested to see what the “Say No To GST” deputies think we should do next week,’ he said.

P&R has promoted its option A package as the best way to plug a projected deficit in States’ finances of around £85m. a year while leaving less affluent islanders better off or no worse off.

But it unveiled an alternative option B on Tuesday. Option B excludes GST but includes much higher taxes on motoring and property. P&R wants deputies to vote on option B next week if option A is defeated.

The States’ landmark tax debate resumes next Wednesday after being adjourned two weeks ago with no sign of agreement on any tax plan.