The Guernsey International Business Association has welcomed the latest economic development strategy for Guernsey, but said it now wants to see action by the States in delivering it, with a focus on "maintaining and expanding our air links."
GIBA said the release last week of the Economic Development Strategy policy letter will hopefully lead to cross-departmental support and working throughout the States of Guernsey, with the strategy not just being delivered by the Committee for Economic Development.
GIBA said "on balance" the strategy is "all good stuff. However, although we have had plenty of long-term plans, strategies and visions in this current States, we have been relatively light on action in this current term, particularly by ED."
The statement, issued by GIBA Chair David Oxburgh, continued:
"It is clearly recognised that the current States cannot bind the next States to strategies and visions; instead its success will ultimately be measured by what it achieves. With the next election not that far away, there is under two years left to catch up and for the current States to leave a positive legacy."
Mr Oxburgh said the next phase of the action plan to boost the island's economy must be published, and approved, with associated KPIs, soon - and "hopefully before the long summer recess."
"We urge a focus on what can be achieved in the coming two years," he said, "and in particular in ensuring that the absolutely highest priority is allocated to maintaining and expanding our air links, making these more reliable and affordable with both action and investment needed to achieve this."
The statement also said that "of all the areas in the strategy it is the work on air links that is key. It is absolutely vital that our air links are strengthened and made more reliable and affordable. We realise that CfED is bringing forward its Air Transport Licensing (ATL) policy letter and we welcome the move to an “open skies” approach for all other than “lifeline” routes. However, time is marching on and with airline timetables determined many months in advance, we need both the politicians and officers of CfED to be working now with potential carriers and airports in order to be able to capitalise on the new ATL regime when it is introduced."
The strategy, which will be debated in June, has actually prioritised building on "the strengths of Guernsey's economy" and "encouraging economic diversification".
Med-tech, transport links, bolstering the finance industry, developing new markets and enhancing and redeveloping the sea front are just some of 20 actions Economic Development have outlined, with committee President, Deputy Charles Parkinson saying “the continued prosperity of the Island depends upon the strength of our economy. It is therefore essential that the States, acting in a joined-up manner and working closely with business, ensures that the island’s economy is well-placed to address the challenges and opportunities it faces both today and in the years to come.
"This is at the heart of the strategy which the Committee is putting to the States."
Below: An infographic released by the committee with its 20 action points, in no particular order:
This plan comes as a replacement to the previous Economic Development committee's. That committee all resigned at the end of last year, following former President Deputy Peter Ferbrache'd decision to stand down. ED is now led by new President Deputy Parkinson.
In 2016 and 2017, the States agreed its objectives for Guernsey’s future, including for the island’s economic development, as set out in the Policy & Resource Plan.
The strategy put forward by the Committee now, seeks to enable the States to achieve these objectives by focusing on Guernsey’s competitive values of stability, quality and innovation.
It also, Deputy Parkinson said, recognises the benefits or more actively monitoring and reporting on our economic situation.
Having studied the proposals, GIBA said that "whilst recognising the need to diversify the economy, GIBA is pleased that the plan is not to “throw the baby out with the bathwater” and that there is clear recognition of the importance of the finance sector to the economy and therefore of the need to continue to develop, support and maintain the island’s main sector."
Mr Oxburgh also said, that skill shortages need addressing urgently in all areas, "whilst there’s been lots of talk about Skills over the last few years, there’s been less action, so we are encouraged by the proposed preparation of an action-focused skills plan and look forward to some progress on this in the near future."
GIBA also raised concerns however, about red tape in the island's government, explaining that "any attempts to cut red tape and reduce barriers to business and make dealing with government easier must be welcomed."
Mr Oxburgh also commended the economic development strategy for including the arts and sports communities: "We also welcome the recognition, at long last, of the benefit to the economy of art and sporting events."
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