Time again for ingenuity and bravery
AT THE end of the Napoleonic Wars, Guernsey was a depressed place. Ravaged by the knock on impact, the local authorities wrote to the Privy Council in a state of distress.
If the word ‘infrastructure’ had been around in the early 19th century, the States would have used it, but instead it bemoaned ‘nothing has been done… towards the least improvement’.
‘This island [has]... little or no trade, little or no disposable revenue, no inducement for the affluent to continue their abode, and no prospect of employment for the poor.’
A committee was appointed to review the state of the markets, and eventually, came up with an ingenious idea, given that the States could not afford to borrow from the banks, and that ‘further taxation was impossible for the population to bear’.
The parallels with today are not so far-fetched. The ingenious idea, which saw the Markets built and thrive for more than 160 years until trading times changed to force their reinvention, was to issue States notes to fund the work, without leading the island into debt.
200 years of the Markets is being celebrated this year. With parallel issues surrounding funding, taxation, and infrastructure spending, could we again expect the States to come up with something equally innovative, brave and memorable from the Tax Review wreckage, that will be remembered 200 years from now?