President, Kristina Le Feuvre, delivered Chamber's Christmas 'Wish List' at our December lunch - read her address here:
Friday 11 December 08:11
Welcome everyone to our Festive Chamber lunch and the last one of the year! I look forward to a thought-provoking talk from Mark Boleat our guest speaker, after lunch and hopefully a lively question and answer session!
I’m not planning on keeping you too long today, and I can assure you my speech won’t be as long as the Guardian article published yesterday! Jersey certainly has its challenges and we will have a much better chance of dealing with them if we face up to them but it is an unfortunate one-sided article which doesn’t represent the island I know.
Depending on who you speak to, we enter the festive period after a mixed year with differing fortunes. Increased indirect taxation, ‘user pays’ beginning to bite, a controversial finance centre, discussion regarding a new hospital and yet we have some achievable, deliverable projects still sitting on the drawing board. Perhaps most importantly, there is still a perception of a lack of focus, urgency and timely delivery on important initiatives and sustainable cost reduction by the States of Jersey. I would love to see the States of Jersey prove the cynics wrong in 2016 and show that they can do more with less just as the private sector has achieved some years ago.
Chamber’s Executive Council has been hard at work putting together their key wants, wishes and needs going forward into 2016. It is interesting that the responses we received had much repetition and a number of these are unanimous comments.
We have put together a dozen little gems (or could be referred to as the 12 days of Christmas or dirty dozen?) for our Ministerial government. Some of these are planned, some are in the process of being processed and some are purely on the wish list. We all need to work together to ensure a healthy and prosperous island and I hope that these will be considered and discussed as all would help with the process of a better, stronger, leaner government and a more profitable island.
Our wish list is as follows:
Tangible and real progress on public sector reform – with clear communication of what will be delivered and when.
A fair playing field for local businesses in relation to the treatment GST.
A fairer system for the granting of work licences that recognises potential as well as immediate value.
Recognition of the value of using and engaging local businesses when procurement policies are developed by government (Remember “Think Twice, Buy Local”?)
Government to review and seek to exit all services / businesses that the private or third sector could deliver.
Stop talking and start delivering on the e-government project.
Take the lead as a digital community. e.g. Introduce digital voting in time for the 2018 election.
Conclude the project started several years ago with regard to reviewing the States’ property and Real Estate requirements – then consolidate where appropriate and sell off the surplus.
A tangible commitment towards delivering a better St. Helier.
A fair and consistent approach to car parking that supports shoppers and local retailers.
A reduction in the number of States members.
And an old favourite that just like the mince pies is needed every year ….. less red tape.
All of the above are achievable and would create a strong starting point for 2016. Chamber’s dozen are recommendations and advice which is achievable and all should form a strong strategic starting point in the New Year.
I would like to finish by quoting from a letter that Chamber sent to our first Chief Minister Frank Walker on 08th May 2006 – almost ten years ago! This letter contained Chamber’s views on the Strategic Plan 2006-2011.
Chamber responded on a number of points, a number of which relate to the wish list we have put together for 2016 a full decade later. I won’t repeat the letter in its entirety but will draw your attention to a couple of the final bullet points contained in the letter:
We are pleased to see the intention to pursue a more active management of States property holdings…. With such a substantial portfolio, and with a number of assets under-utilised we hope the achieved benefits will be considerably higher (than quoted).
We welcome a review of States businesses with a view to privatisation and believe that this is the optimum time to be taking such action, not only to maximize efficiencies but optimize capital returns….
We welcome the potential outsourcing proposals alluded to in the report. …we are pleased this point is being taken on board. We would suggest that this objective be pursued through a formal review.
It is a pity that a decade after this letter was written the above points are still being raised by the Chamber Council as suggested objectives for 2016! Let’s work together and see some of these key points realised!
All that now remains is for me to wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, and for you to enjoy your lunch!