The Presidents of the States’ three highest spending departments have laid out their support of P&R’s tax plan, saying in their experience the public want more services from government, not less.
Deputies Al Brouard, Andrea Dudley-Owen and Rob Prow, the political leaders of Health & Social Care, Education, Sport & Culture, and Home Affairs respectively, have today published an open letter, suggesting the public have not properly understood the tax package.
“The anti-GST campaign is largely based on soundbite not fact. And its success will mean many of the poorest in our community will be both worse off than they are now and miss out on the package of measures that would in reality improve their financial position,” they said.
“We do not want to cut services that we think are essential. And we don’t think you want us to either.
“Our experience shows us the States cannot currently keep up with the demand for the services that Islanders want and expect.
“And we’re not talking about raising money so that the States can get bigger and provide all things, to all people; we’re largely talking about maintaining services as they become more expensive, because more people need them, particularly in Health as our population ages.
The full letter can be read HERE.
Pictured: HSC are grappling with hundreds of vacancies, rocketing costs for agency staff and the hospital modernisation, and the prospect of an ageing population.
Services delivered between their three committees are “intrinsically linked” and, for example, reducing pastoral care in schools may result in higher justice and health costs later in time because of unadulterated anti-social behaviour, they said.
“Nobody wants to put up tax or introduce new taxes but the huge deficit in public finances is undeniable and, with an ageing demographic, it’s only going to grow,” they said, adding that the role of a States member is to examine the facts and make the best decision, even if that’s “deeply unpopular”.
The trio also took aim at the debate which risks becoming all about “personalities, election sights, catchy slogans or burying our heads in the sand”.
“We recognise that ‘No to GST’ has a certain allure. But it’s just a slogan. If P&R were simply proposing to introduce GST, none of us would support it. We suspect you’d struggle to find a single States Member who would. As a standalone tax GST is regressive and disproportionately impacts the poorest members of the community, but that’s not what is on the table.
They also say that while many call for civil servants to be reduced, three quarters of States employees are teachers, nurses, carers, and police officers, roles which no-one is lobbying to be reduced.
Pictured: Those campaigning against GST are not appreciating a bigger picture, according to the trio.
They asked the following:
“Would you be willing to pay for secondary healthcare rather than have GST?
“Would you be willing to close more schools and have bigger class sizes to avoid GST?
“Would you be willing to compromise access to publicly funded drugs and treatments to avoid GST?
“Would you be willing to withdraw all grants to libraries, arts, and sports to avoid GST?
“Would you be willing to have longer waiting times for key services?
“Would you be willing to cut funding to police, customs, and fire services to avoid GST?
“Would you be willing to stop work on justice reforms or better services for victims of sexual assault to avoid GST?”
The trio said that while not attempting to scare or threaten, these are the conversation which will need to occur if revenue raising measures are not agreed by the States this week.
“We will make those tough decisions if we must, but we believe it would be dereliction of our duty to Islanders if we did not highlight the stark realities in advance of next week’s debate,” they concluded.
Debate on the Tax Review resumes on Wednesday 15 Febraury.
TRP could be replaced if States back 'proportional' alternative
Tax challengers unconvinced – fresh amendment expected
Tax plan includes 5% GST - but P&R says most families will be better off
Why States leaders STILL think GST and tax reform is needed
"Unacceptable" and "damaging" service cuts if States reject GST
Once your comment has been submitted, it won’t appear immediately. There is no need to submit it more than once. Comments are published at the discretion of Bailiwick Publishing, and will include your username.
There are no comments for this article.