Meerveld agrees to scale back anti-GST protests
THE deputy who led public opposition to GST earlier this year has agreed to scale back his campaign this time around – but only if the Policy & Resources Committee does not run a strong campaign in favour of a goods and services tax.
P&R lost a vote on GST in February. As reported by the Guernsey Press in July, the senior committee is widely expected to push it to another vote in the States in October – possibly at 6%, and excluding food.
Deputy Carl Meerveld has spoken to P&R about toning down the pro- and anti-GST campaigns ahead of next month’s debate.
‘The public of Guernsey has shown very clearly that it does not support GST,’ said Deputy Meerveld.
‘I don’t think we need another big public campaign against something which we already know people oppose.
‘I have agreed that I will not run an aggressive public campaign against GST ahead of the next debate, as long as P&R does not run an aggressive campaign in favour of GST.’
P&R intends to publish its latest proposals on tax and spending early next week.
It is expected to tell deputies that they cannot deal with a hole in public finances projected to grow to £100m. a year by 2040, and fund major building projects at the Princess Elizabeth Hospital and Les Ozouets without introducing GST and borrowing hundreds of millions of pounds.
P&R briefed States members last week, after which Deputy Chris Le Tissier wrote on social media that States members would be given three options.
‘In summary, cuts or borrow a little or borrow a lot and with GST. The third option will be the one P&R favour,’ he said.
P&R declined to comment on its proposals yesterday.
It was understood to be disappointed by Deputy Le Tissier referring to its proposals publicly before they were finalised and submitted for debate.
‘I don’t think I gave away any confidences,’ said Deputy Le Tissier.
‘I don’t think I put out very much. I don’t think I put out much more than what has been known about for some time anyway.’
P&R’s package, which included GST, was defeated by 15 votes to 25 in February.
Deputy Le Tissier speculated that the vote could be closer next month but doubted that P&R would get GST through the Assembly.
‘I think there might be a few more deputies in favour of it this time,’ he said.
‘But I don’t think there has been enough of a change for it to get through. Even if it did, it would probably be overturned after the next election [in 2025].’
Deputy Le Tissier confirmed he would oppose GST again and encouraged P&R to focus on cutting unnecessary spending instead. He gave the example of not recruiting to inessential vacant positions in the public sector.
Deputy Meerveld, who will also vote against GST again, urged P&R to focus on economic growth rather than tax rises.
‘I have spoken to P&R and I think there is wide recognition that GST is highly unlikely to get through the States,’ said Deputy Meerveld.
‘I recognise that GST needs to be in the debate as one of the options. If the States wants to deal with the deficit by continually raising taxes, GST is the only option.
‘In my view, the focus needs to shift to economic growth and generating more revenue without burdening the population with big tax rises.’