Guernsey Press

Committee presidents highlight ‘stark realities’ without GST

‘NO to GST’ is just a slogan and other measures in the package need to be considered, three senior deputies have said ahead of this week’s Tax Review debate.

Deputies Al Brouard and Andrea Dudley-Owen. (Picture by Luke Le Prevost, 31795613)

The politicians, who have an interest as presidents of three of the largest spending committees, have written an open letter outlining the cuts they say would occur without tax reform and the impact it would have on essential public services.

They argue that Policy & Resources’ initial proposal would be best for the majority of islanders and enable their committees, and the States as a whole, to offer the public services the community demands.

Deputies Al Brouard, Andrea Dudley-Owen and Rob Prow, presidents of Health & Social Care, Education, Sport & Culture, and Home Affairs respectively, have written their thoughts about the public reaction to the tax proposal and the isolation of GST within the package.

‘As a standalone tax, GST is regressive and disproportionately impacts the poorest members of the community, but that’s not what’s on the table,’ they said.

‘This package of measures would result in lower-paid islanders being better off than they are now, even after paying a 5% GST on goods and services.’

They reminded that the States cannot currently keep up with the demand that islanders want and expect, and it is not about expanding the States, but maintaining services that are particularly prevalent with an ageing population, such as healthcare.

While islanders have suggested that the States spends too much on staff, of the approximate 5,000 people the States employs, about three-quarters work in health and care, education and home affairs.

‘We’ve never heard of anyone advocate getting rid of nurses, carers, teachers or police officers,’ they said.

Guernsey is one of the few jurisdictions worldwide without a consumption tax and has to compete with Jersey and the Isle of Man, who are raking in hundreds of millions through this route.

‘We collect nothing and yet are expected to provide the same standard of public services as our neighbouring jurisdictions,’ they said.

‘There has been a lack of understanding of the package on offer and the benefits that it will bring.’

They added that the anti-GST campaign is based on sound bites, and its success will leave the poorest in the community worse off without a package of measures that would improve their financial positions.

‘It would be dereliction of our duty to islanders if we did not highlight the stark realities in advance of the debate.

‘The debate cannot be about personalities, election sights, catchy slogans or burying our heads in the sand.’