President's Message November 2016

Friday 11 November 14:00

What a week it's been! How many people would have thought the President-elect of the United States of America, would have the surname “Trump”

How many of you sitting in the audience would have thought that we would be negotiating Brexit as the year closes, and how many of you can say with confidence that you thought that the President-elect of the United States of America, would have the surname “Trump!”

The French elections in 2017 will perhaps be the next target of the anti-establishment vote and are being watched keenly by those with an interest in politics.

Politics, like business, should consist of new and innovative ways to source income, not just the same policies, with the same “quick wins” that are played out each year, which is often the case.

Take the 2017 Budget impot duty proposals. For years the Treasury Department have justified the increase on alcohol duty, in order to tackle alcohol related issues in Jersey. However, consumption of spirits has continued to rise, so clearly, the government's tax and educational health strategy hasn't worked.

Upping the impot duty on alcohol is an easy tax tap for Treasury to turn but in doing so they’re squeezing a sector that’s weakened by the value of an uncertain pound and an uncertain market. They are also running the risk of losing the very duty they seek to raise by increasing duty free purchases and customs evasion.

GST is another tax which the Treasury have refused to communicate and respond to genuine concerns.

Since 2014, Chamber have lobbied the current and former Treasury Ministers for the results of a GST De Minimis review. A review, which the former Treasury Minister promised would take place. Despite numerous letters to the former and current Minister, Chamber hasn’t received a reply. Not even to the recorded delivery letter we sent in May this year. I hope that when we hear about the accomplishments of Treasury today, we may also have a response to our continued request for a public review of GST de minimum levels, dating back to 2014!

The de minimis level is an issue the Minister and Treasury Department must, and I mean MUST address seriously, if they want Jersey to continue to have a diverse and successful high street. Online and high street shopping must have a level playing field in which to operate.

It is absolutely right that Chamber continues to put pressure on government, as lobbying is at the very heart of the Chamber of Commerce. It’s not always a pleasant or easy task but it’s a vital role Chamber does on behalf of our business community.

A politician who is convinced his answer is the only answer is a politician who runs the risk of the “Trump” effect. Those disenfranchised, disempowered and disillusioned voters may yet cause an upset in Jersey politics and if we are to have a strong and vibrant economy we cannot afford to ignore the thousands of small businesses that are the backbone of island life.

Our politicians, like governments the world over don’t always get it right, either through lack of understanding, lack of experience, lack of thorough consultation or introducing capital raising taxes with too few impact reviews on businesses or individuals.

Is it therefore, right and vital that Chambers voice is heard when legislation is proposed, especially when Chamber represents 27,000 working people in Jersey, that’s almost half the island’s working population.

Through our committees I regularly hear about the issues and challenges our members are facing with trading in Jersey. Issues which we feed into government, at public events such as this and one-to-one meetings the Chamber Executive have with Ministers. It’s a vital two-way communication link between business and government. We appreciate the time that our politicians take to listen and interact with the Chamber of Commerce and generally these meetings are interactive and inclusive, if a little feisty at times.

Chamber and I always want to know more about trading challenges in the island, which is why today we are launching a new email address, for our member organisations.

listen@jerseychamber.com

……is a dedicated channel for our members to directly raise trading issues, from work licenses to retail issues to import duties! The subjects we raise are defined by you, so email in your comments and concerns to listen@jerseychamber.com so we can work on your behalf.

As I say to all our members, we can’t promise to get you the answer you’re looking for but we will raise you concerns at the right committee or ministerial meeting.

Chamber is here to listen and lobby.

I trust our government is equally willing to listen and learn.

Enjoy your lunch and we look forward to hearing from our Treasury Minister shortly!

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