President's Speech, April 2017 Lunch
Wednesday 19 April 17:16
Final speech from current President, Kristina Le Feuvre, with just one month in of her term of office to go.
A warm welcome to our guests today and a final address from your current President.
Have two years really passed since I was elected as President of the Jersey Chamber of Commerce?
I started my term with some excitement in the ranks, the first female president in the 249-year history of the oldest English speaking Chamber in the world. Presiding over the largest employer representative body in Jersey, I certainly felt the weight of history behind me.
The President, together with the Executive Committee sets and steers the direction of Chamber during their tenure, and I began with a number of key objectives. These included ensuring Chamber plays a key role in the decision-making process that affects all businesses, making Chamber more relevant to the youth and future business owners of the island and promoting the relevance of Chamber and ensuring the organisation remains relevant to the business community.
The last two years have been an incredible journey. I have met some fascinating people, attended some amazing events and had discussions on subjects that have required a lot of research!
I know more about Brexit than I felt possible, I have researched worldwide De Minimis levels and I can discuss in depth liquid waste charges across different countries. What other woman has these opportunities!
I have had open access to politicians and civil servants of all levels and I have discussed, debated and lobbied on everything from the Medium Term Financial Plan (MTFP) to the liquor licensing law.
On the 14th May 2015, I rose to deliver my inaugural speech to 250 paying guests and I cannot deny it was a terrifying ordeal. I often get asked why woman don't take on more prominent roles and my initial response of “confidence” has altered to “fear of failure”. We will often look at a role and not feel ready to step into those shoes, and that was certainly my thought as I waited for the room to quiet.
I say with gratitude that during my tenure I have never had anything other than positivity and assistance. From former council members who offered me a listening ear, to those who willingly helped me when researching a consultation response.
Have I made a difference? I hope so. It has been a frenetic two years and I leave Chamber in a more positive financial position, we have an incredible Executive Committee and strong committee members, and an Executive Team that provide exemplary support. We have dragged the Chamber offices into the 21st century, we have put our own house in order and become proactive rather than reactive. We are a more relevant organisation, we have implemented procedures and strategies to communicate with our members and we have a far stronger communication network which clearly sets out the value of membership. We can take a call in the morning and relay this to a key politician within a short period of time.
The work is not yet done. There are a number of issues that remain outstanding that will have a significant effect on business going forward and which, by nature of the speed of government, are still on the drawing board.
This list, though not exhaustive contains the following:
- General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) – an EU regulation that comes into force in May 2018. This could be a threat or an opportunity depending on the speed at which we move.
- GST De Minimis review seems to be awaiting stronger, leaner systems that can cope with a reduced level….enough said!
- Liquid Waste charge – this additional tax is due to be implemented for businesses only, at a whopping 95% of water costs or £2.27 per cubic metre. At this time there is no information on whether borehole, businesses that run from home or mobile businesses will be included. Can you imagine telling a customer you are increasing their charges by £8,000 a year but aren’t actually sure who will be included in the net?
- States Reform – needs a shake, not a slap!
- Licensing/Population - needs a sensible debate.
There are a number of pressing issues that need a final solution and I haven’t even broached the debate on the hospital funding.
There's no doubt there is passion and integrity within the States Chamber and the public need to offer solutions, debate and not misinformed criticism.
I often find myself on social occasions defending the decision of the States of Jersey, not because I agree with them necessarily but because the supposed actual information is so wide of the mark!
I think we do need to remember that if we continue to attack the politician and not the policies we will have a smaller pool to draw from each election and we will get what we deserve. We need to challenge, debate and perhaps offer alternate strategies and solutions but I have certainly seen passion and commitment during my term and we don’t acknowledge that enough. Having said that, a kick up the pants and a faster speed wouldn’t go amiss!
My presidency has been a journey for both Chamber and myself, and I am proud to have been given the opportunity of taking on this voluntary role with such a historic organisation. I leave it in safe hands and I wish my successor Eliot and his new Vice-President Mark, and the Executive Team ably led by Gillian, the utmost success.
My future, off to book a holiday!