People signing a petition against GST should be asked which school or hospital ward they would close instead, suggested Deputy David Mahoney when challenged on the proposals at last night's public meeting.
He was responding to comments made by Marc Breton, a member of the audience at Les Beaucamps High School, who has launched a petition saying 'No to GST'.
Mr Breton made a few points when he was given the microphone to address the panel. He said he was waiting for three tax returns to be assessed and he was confident that he owes the States money. He suggested they resolve issues with income tax before further complicating things there.
He also claimed "it's so obvious what you're planning" as he accused the panel of intending to increase GST from 5% to 8% or 10% while resetting income tax at 20p in the pound in the future.
Pictured: Marc Breton.
Deputy Ferbrache responded by insisting "I'm not here to mislead anybody". He also added that without introducing GST that services will have to be cut.
"When we say in a few years that we don't have enough money to keep all our schools open, we don't have enough money to pay our carers, we don't have enough money to fund the NICE drugs that I mentioned earlier, what are we going to do then? Where is that money going to come from?
"You won't get a round of applause then when people can't get the drugs they want, when their mother can't get the care that she needs, or their children or grandchildren can't go to the school that they want to. You won't get a round of applause then, and all the people who applauded I'd like them to tell me because the door is open, up until and including the debate, where they see that the money to fund these services is going to come from. Because if you can I would gladly receive that information."
Deputy Mahoney followed Deputy Ferbrache by being even more pointed in his criticism of the anti-GST petition.
He said he was given a leaflet promoting the petition as he arrived at last night's meeting, going on to suggest: "...perhaps on the bottom you also need a bit saying 'and please add which hospital wing you will close, which school you will close, how many teachers you will dismiss', because that's the other option. If we do what is suggested, if there is no GST and put our heads in the sand then that is going to happen."
Pictured: The panel at the tax proposals public meeting were (l-r) Deputies Peter Ferbrache, David Mahoney, Jonathan Le Tocq and Peter Roffey.
Around 500 people watched the live-streamed meeting on the tax proposals, with around 40 at the meeting itself.
The first question to the panel was posed by a gentleman called Gordon Young who is known for engaging in public meetings and forums with politicians.
He asked about pensioners on reduced incomes but many people watching the live stream commented via the Facebook page that he was "fobbed off" or "shut down" when it was suggested that his question involved personal circumstances and should be discussed privately.
Dan Ogier from the campaign group Guernsey People Against GST asked how the States can be trusted to charge residents additional taxes when they can't get their own costs in order. That generated a round of applause from the audience.
He also referenced the civil service wage bill which Deputy Ferbrache said the panel would all agree with the need to reduce that where it could be but it is easier said than done.
Former Deputy Mark Dorey received a further round of applause when he pointed out that all of the four panel members had stood for election on manifestos against GST and tax rises. He read out excerpts from election pledges and suggested that any candidate who said in 2020 that they did not realise the financial mess the island was in either did not do their homework or misled the public.