May 26, 2010
From John Heys.
THE slow but inevitable ruination of this beautiful Island of Jersey by an incapable and dictatorial junta of senior States members must be exposed to the outside world, and stopped now as the mistakes are getting beyond recovery, with no accountability at all.
Once very prosperous tourism and agriculture industries have been run down in total favour of the so called finance industry. The Chief Minister and his cohorts disregard the writing on the wall and pump millions into a tax haven industry now under attack from many sides.
Things have slipped down hill to the point where our GDP is: Finance 58%; tourism, the one live mainstay of our economy, 3%; and agriculture, famous for the Jersey Royal, tomatoes, and flowers, about 1% – facts which our ministers ignore, stating how wonderful things are with billions of pounds invested/hidden here.
Senator Le Sueur recently proposed giving £100 million in tax relief to the finance industry, which, of course, a small economy like this cannot possibly withstand, so to make it up he suggested introducing a general tax.
Against many alternatives which he would not contemplate, he said that it would be introduced. Incensed, the Jersey people held a petition to which 20,000 signatures were penned. When it was presented, Senator Le Sueur’s comment was: ‘I do not care how many signatures there are, GST will be introduced’, and when informed that elderly people on small fixed incomes were finding it even harder to purchase affordable food, he said : ‘They will just have to shop around’.
Both comments are an example of the total lack of understanding and the dictatorship attitude under which Jersey suffers.
Many large companies and hotel groups operating and making big profits in Jersey do not pay income tax, while Jersey companies have to, and everyone is running around like chickens with their heads off because we now have a big shortfall in our financial situation, a painfully obvious result of a ridiculous policy.
The civil service is totally top heavy, grossly overpaid and unaccountable for huge financial errors. As an example, it was decided to contract a French firm to build an incinerator without taking account of cheaper alternatives or adequate public consultation, at the approximate cost of £107 million, and although the exchange rate between the euro and the pound was to be accounted for, it was ignored, and we now find that this glaring error could cost the tax payer £2 or 3 million extra.
There was an uproar from the public, so an inquiry was held in what Jersey calls ‘behind closed doors’ to discover just who was in the wrong. The result was that the matter had been dealt with, no one was sacked or moved, and that the matter is now closed. I cannot imagine many countries, except those like Zimbabwe, or Iran perhaps, having the sheer audacity to treat the public in such a dictatorial manner.
We are constantly spun by the ruling junta that we are so lucky to have the finance industry paying in so much money, making this Island rich, but they never mention that we are so rich that out of the 52,000 working people, 8,500 are on Income Support because they cannot afford to live, or that due to the wonderful finance industry, the average price of a three bedroom house is £470,000, or that Jersey per GDP capita is the 3rd richest country in the World, yet its minimum wage is the lowest in all of 27 EU member states, and that Jersey spends less than 75% of the EU average on social protection.
Jersey is a tax haven playing to the benefit of the rich financed by the poor, who pay 20% in tax whilst the rich have a nice sliding scale of tax, so on their first £million they pay 20%, on the next half £million 10%, and 1% from then on, so on a declared £10 million, their tax bill would run at just 3.5%, and even then that can be avoided.
A total disgrace is the huge civil service pay cheque: 270 get from £70,000 to £89,999; 62 get from £90,000 to £109,999; 36 get from £110,000 to £129,999; 19 get from £130,000 to £149,999; 22 get from £150,000 to £169,999 two get from £170,000 to £189,999; one gets from £190,000 to £209,000; one gets from £210,000 to £229,999; five get from £230,000 to £249,999. And, recently announced, one gets £287,089, of which £42,500 is a bonus when his department actually made a loss of £610,000. And we think the banking rewards are immoral.
We have been warned that money is scarce and belts will have to be tightened and painful economies made, yet our states departments have overspent more than £8,520,000, as far as we know, and not one member will be held to account.
Staffing levels have had to be scrutinised and redundancies painfully actioned, yet on the other hand Senator Ozouf has announced that another 127 posts have been created and 30 temporary positions introduced, and further adds that local jobs should go to local people when only the other week I wrote about dozens of top local jobs filled by outsiders and it continues practically every day, so who is he trying to convince?
It is painfully obvious that this island does not have the wherewithal to run itself and is being inexorably driven towards huge irrecoverable problems, with ever mounting costs due to mistakes, constant overspends, and with the tax evasion and avoidance procedures coming under scrutiny, so that when the numerous methods are exposed and get stopped, we will have no industry to fall back on.
Much of the blame unfortunately lies with the apathetic Jersey public. When there is a chance with elections to get rid of all the chaff in our States, only 33% of the people bother to vote, stating: ‘What is the point, there is no alternative’, or ‘They are all the same’.
I feel that we are at a point now when we must look to either the UK or the EU to step in and start to provide professional guidance with some form of local party politics to monitor the situations.
There are a number of good States Members struggling to introduce common sense, but they are constantly out-voted by the nodding heads controlled by the ministerial system.
It has even been suggested that Jersey declare UDI. With no help, guidance or watchful eye at all from the UK, we are in chaos now. Given a free hand, this Island would nose dive into ruination.
What is needed is party politics, where manifestos are published and members expected to abide by them, thus providing control and accountability.
I fear that unless drastic measures are taken now to halt and redress the downward rush, Jersey will find itself in the worst mess it has ever been in, and the finance industry will leave the sinking ship to go to where it can continue making fortunes in safety.
Article posted on 26th May, 2010 - 3.00pm