Guernsey Press

‘Are you prepared to do what is right for the island?’

MEMBERS of Policy & Resources wants to see more scrutiny of the views and motives of the critics of their latest tax and spending plans.

P&R member Deputy David Mahoney has called on opponents of GST to face the same scrutiny as the committee and it supporters. (Picture by Sophie Rabey, 32498018)

The senior committee is already facing a wave of criticism for launching a third bid in two years for the introduction of a goods and services tax, and talk of a vote of no confidence if its plans are defeated by the States again next month.

P&R member David Mahoney argued that the 25 States members who voted against GST in February should face at least as many questions ahead of the October debate as the five deputies on the senior committee and 10 other States members who backed GST.

‘Are we prepared to do what’s right for the island? The five of us, and 10 others, have said we back this, knowing it’s very unpopular, but it is the best thing for the island,’ said Deputy Mahoney.

‘The question is not really to us 15 – it’s to the other 25. Are you prepared to do what is right for the island, rather than what is good, cheap and popular?

‘We’re prepared to do it, so over to 25 people – are you prepared to do it?’

Former chief minister Jonathan Le Tocq, who has said it is possible for P&R to win the six additional votes needed for its plans to be approved by the States, asked members of other committees to see that they share responsibility for sorting out the island’s financial challenges.

‘The States ties our hands. On the one hand, through its committees, saying “we want to do this, that and the other” and then on the other hand saying “you must find the money for it, but we don’t like you doing it this way or that way”,’ said Deputy Le Tocq.

‘We have done our best with three options to come up with ways in which the circle can be squared. Nothing other than option three [including GST] achieves what the States has said it wants to do and funds it in a sustainable manner. We would be irresponsible not to bring that.

‘If the States chooses to tie our hands in some other way, we will have to face that issue and come back with some way of dealing with it, but it is really kicking the can further down the road to another generation.

‘I’m not willing to do that, and I’m happy for people to say “I won’t vote for you again”, if I stand again.’

P&R’s newest member, Bob Murray, appealed for States members to respect that the three tax and spending options put forward by the committee were funded packages and should not be picked apart in next month’s debate.

‘There is a danger when this goes to the States that it tries to pick and mix,’ said Deputy Murray.

‘I’ve tried to make that clear in all the presentations we’ve done to States members and committees. We’ve tried to signal that. We hope they won’t do that because a pick and mix will leave us in a mess.’