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February - March 2012

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Another issue of Connect goes to print and still there is no end in sight to the chronic economic uncertainty in Europe. As I write this article, overnight deposits at the European Central Bank have hit a record high at 528.2 billion euros ($675.6 billion). It’s a sign of stress in the banking system. The high deposits in the ECB’s safe haven indicate banks are unwilling to lend to each other because they are afraid they might not be paid back.

This uncertainty is reflected in the latest Jersey Business Tendency Survey, which underlines what Chamber has been saying since last September: the ‘all sector business activity indicator’ was negative by thirteen percentage points on the previous quarter. As you can imagine, the rest of the document makes pretty challenging reading for those in Government trying to find answers to problems; some of which are outside of their control. 

The most important thing right now is that we don’t collectively behave like the proverbial rabbit caught in the headlights. As any business person will tell you, the aim of the game now is to emerge slimmer, fitter and sharper than we were when we went into this decline.   

All of which gives extra importance to the latest draft Strategic Plan published by the Council of Ministers and due for debate in May. It has the opportunity, if implemented, to make significant changes to every aspect of Island life. 

The key words though are ‘if implemented’ – too many times our elected representatives behave as 51 individuals, with 51 points of view and the process of actually delivering any strategy gets bogged down in the morass of endlessly debated

Chamber’s ‘Plan B’ document identifies ten critical areas that we believe need to be addressed to ensure that this Island has a sustainable and competitive future; it’s encouraging to read that the latest Strategic Plan contains many similar strands. The key now is speed of delivery, as only the fittest will survive.

David Warr
President, Jersey Chamber of Commerce

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