‘States will be playing a game of chicken if it takes on extra debt’
A deputy opposed to more unfunded borrowing has claimed the States will be playing ‘a game of chicken’ if it takes on additional debt after rejecting numerous plans to bring in more income.
The Assembly is locked in debate on an amendment to re-authorise borrowing another £200m. to help pay for a £130m. reorganisation of secondary and further education.
Deputy Sasha Kazantseva-Miller suggested that a new levy on companies could raise at least £5m. a year to help repay borrowing to redevelop the Guernsey Institute and build a new Sixth Form Centre at Les Ozouets.
But Deputy Peter Roffey told the latest Guernsey Press Politics Podcast that her plan was not credible after deputies threw out a goods and services tax and increases in income tax and company tax proposed to help deal with a financial hole projected to reach £100m. a year by 2040.
Listen to Deputies Roffey and Kazantseva-Miller on the latest Guernsey Press Politics Podcast
‘I was shocked listening to [deputies] talking on Sasha’s amendment saying “if we commit this money, the next States will have to raise the money”. What kind of game of chicken is that? That’s so against the prudent approach the States has taken over the years,’ said Deputy Roffey.
‘I’m not sure the next States will. If you throw down that challenge, you then have this island-wide election, which is basically a big beauty parade, where everybody will be asked whether to raise taxes.
'I reckon the chances are it would go the other way and then we would be in an incredibly fragile position.’
Deputy Kazantseva-Miller said that some opponents of her amendment were trying to use it to again fight a debate about the future model of secondary and further education, and urged the Assembly to let Education’s projects go ahead.
‘Ultimately, if you don’t want to invest, that’s fine, and you may not have any structural deficit, but the burning platform today is education,’ she said.
‘As a deputy, that’s what I’m trying to think about. Every day, students wake up, teachers wake up, families wake up and continue living in complete uncertainty about the future of what’s going to be happening to our island and going into dilapidated buildings.
‘Ultimately, that is the most burning issue of today.’
The States debate on the draft 2024 Budget resumes on Wednesday next week, after which deputies are expected to consider a motion of no confidence lodged in the Policy & Resources Committee.