Roffey hopes to persuade ESS members to back GST
EMPLOYMENT & Social Security’s president is holding out hope that he can yet persuade his members to back Policy & Resources’ original plans for tax reform.
As the Assembly prepares to return to the Tax Review next Wednesday, Deputy Peter Roffey still hopes that the committee’s proposals, now one of three options it is presenting, will be passed, despite vociferous opposition.
After a bid to replace them with the so-called Fairer Alternative last month failed, P&R has come up with its own alternatives.
Option B would include increased TRP, new motoring taxes and cuts to public spending, while Option C includes increases in social security contributions and taxes on companies, and more than £30m. a year in public spending cuts.
Deputy Roffey said he would vote for Option B if the first one failed, although he sees it as ‘a wretched alternative to option A which will put ESS in a very difficult position’.
‘This is because trying to reform the contribution system along the lines suggested on a revenue-neutral basis will inevitably involve very high contribution rates.
‘The alternative is lower allowances which takes away much of the progressive nature which was the original driving imperative for the reforms.’
But if Option A failed he would have to support Option B, ‘because I simply can’t allow Guernsey to run out of money to fund its key public services’.
But he said he could not vote for Option C ‘in a million years’.
‘100% of my focus is on trying to convince my colleagues to back Option A.’
Three committee members – Tina Bury, Lindsay de Sausmarez and Steve Falla –voted for the ‘Fairer Alternative’ at the last meeting, but have not yet made up their minds about the new options.
Deputy Bury had yet to reach any conclusions.
‘I haven’t yet fully absorbed all the implications of the newly-lodged alternatives,’ she said.
Deputy Falla said: ‘I have not yet decided how I will be voting.
‘I do have concerns about the impact of Option B on contribution levels, particularly for small businesses and the self-employed.’
Deputy de Sausmarez said she too had not made up her mind on Option B.
‘I will go into debate and listen to what is said, but I’d be surprised if a better alternative didn’t pop up.’
She believed that the only reason the Fairer Alternative failed was because members were expecting another amendment to be laid that would provide an even better choice.
Although an attempt was made to give them this option, in the form of an amendment from Deputy Carl Meerveld, which aimed at providing something that everyone could support, but ended up being defeated.
‘It hadn’t really been scrutinised and it turned out to be a bit of a false dawn and didn’t do what was promised,’ she said.
This had sought to provide opponents of GST with an option to vote for and proposed a mixture of spending cuts and reviews of various taxes with a proposal to revisit the whole issue at a future time.
‘I would hope that we will see more amendments put up in the near future,’ said Deputy de Sausmarez.
She also hoped the Assembly would follow the lead of Policy & Resources president Deputy Peter Ferbrache and support a debate on all amendments.
Deputy Ferbrache had criticised members of ESS for not supporting his committee’s main tax review proposals.
n The fifth ESS political – Deputy John Gollop – could not be contacted yesterday.