President’s Message - Chamber News October 2016

Friday 7 October 12:42

As the weather turns cooler and the visitors dwindle, many businesses at this time of the year turn to the biggest event revenue generator, Christmas. A time of good cheer, goodwill and peace to all men.

As the MTFP debate is ongoing at the time of writing, many in the business community were watching closely the amendment from Deputy Le Fondre regarding the proposed waste charge, a revenue raising tax scheme, administered by the Department of Infrastructure but intended to raise funds for non-infrastructure related projects. Defeated by 17-27 votes the debate itself raised some interesting points.

Is the waste charge about environmental / behavioural changes or filling a black hole? Was the debate about changing behaviour as was strongly argued by Infrastructure or about revenue raising?

Perhaps what was missing from the debate was the real key issue. What other business, organisation or non-profit organisation would produce a forward thinking business plan without any real level of detail regarding charges, collection mechanism and realistic costings?

The business community would agree with a number of the comments that they cannot expect to dispose of commercial waste without charge. The argument is perhaps should any household be able to dispose of private waste without contributing? The concerns expressed by businesses revolved around the proposed liquid waste charge, the projected level of cost, and the concentration on the easy target of island based businesses.

It is obvious from the votes that some States members felt that the additional cost concerns, particularly from the tourism industry was scare-mongering. Time will tell if Visit Jerseys’ plans to extend the season will be limited by the increased number of venues not open in the winter, but Chamber can say for certainty that some members of the industry are looking at a wide range of options in advance of this charge and none are positive news for Tourism. With the volume of passengers arriving in the island in July and August down 6%, our Tourism industry is still showing vulnerability and using businesses as a “quick fix” will only work for a short period of time.

If you have never been to a States debate I would urge you to do so. It is a real eye-opener and the preparation of each States member becomes very apparent. If you haven’t watched the debates online they can be reached using the following link: https://statesassembly.public-i.tv/core/portal/home.

As a footnote I would like to remind all ministers that when replying to letters or emails from Chamber, to check carefully before pressing the “send” button. It never makes positive reading when comments from senior civil servants are included as notes to the minister in question, advising them of how to spin the reply!

Kristina Le Feuvre, President, Jersey Chamber of Commerce.

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