Chamber of Commerce executive concedes necessity of tax reforms
GUERNSEY’S Chamber of Commerce executive has conceded that P&R’s tax reforms are necessary to keep the island’s quality of life.
But it has criticised the lack of detail on cost savings.
The statement comes as Chamber launched a fresh survey of members to get their views.
Earlier this year, Chamber members did not believe the scale of the issue set out by the government.
However, the executive has accepted that the proposal lays out the case very clearly and links together the States accounts and budget.
Rather than accept a managed decline of services, Chamber is instead backing the States scenario three. This is also P&R’s preferred option, with the same tax package as defeated earlier in the year, but with the addition of £350m. of borrowing.
This would allow for the redevelopment of the Princess Elizabeth Hospital and Education’s post-16 campus at Les Ozouets.
Chamber of Commerce board director Steve Rouxel stated: ‘It’s evident that P&R have listened to some of the views of Chamber in the plans they have published. But the reality is undeniable, to fund our future, GST or higher income taxes, alongside tax reform and other measures are necessary.’
However he did have concerns.
‘To say that P&R’s attempt at articulating cost savings was short of detail would be doing an injustice to the words “short” and “detail”,’ he said.
‘Alongside other cost saving measures, we would urge P&R to investigate the measures we propose, particularly civil service pension reform, as a matter of urgency to achieve cost savings in line with global public sector pension reform developments.’
Policy & Resources is attempting to save £10m. to £16m. a year over the next four years. In yesterday’s Guernsey Press P&R member Dave Mahoney said they had been surveying islanders for their ideas on savings.
Chamber stated that one of P&R’s major problems was that GST had a significant public relations problem.
‘P&R’s argument in January was, we need GST or else, rather than focusing on the benefits that introduction of the tax could bring,’ the statement from Chamber stated.
‘The people of Guernsey, do not like being told that they must have it or else. In the view of the Chamber executive, deputies who take the time to read the billet – not all of them do – and understand it, are more likely to be persuaded that action does need to be taken on tax rises.
'Some may also be persuaded that GST is the right tax. However, P&R needs to win the hearts and minds of the public if they are to translate votes and that is a big task.’
A survey of Chamber members has now been launched. It asks them if they are convinced that there is a significant gap between government income and costs, and if they agree with the Chamber executive view that the full tax reform package was the most viable option proposed.