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Monday, 23 July 2012

Failing to Inspire Confidence in the States of Jersey’s Future

If only unemployment of Civil Servants
were the highest priority 
Once more the government has failed to separate the notion of the States of Jersey from the People of Jersey. They are not one and the same. We, the people, do not care whether the government lives or dies, we are not interested in what plans they will ultimately and inevitably fail to achieve in the next three years.

We, the people, just wish they would stop trying at all.

For the first time, the States of Jersey is setting budgets 3 years in advance and moving towards long-term planning. Jersey’s first Medium Term Financial Plan describes how Ministers are proposing to meet the objectives set out in the States Strategic Plan, and manage the Island’s resources from 2013-2015. After all there is no failure, like a carefully planned failure. I am surprised that they did not issue a 'five year' plan, so the failures could be as catastrophic as the failures of other Soviet nations of the past.

Because this is what this plan represents, a rigid plan which 45% of Jersey's workforce will now be working to realise, whether or not it is in our best interests and without any way to react to the shocking changes which the global economic situation would suggest are inevitable and probably before this plan is even debated in the States.

Key priorities include:
1) plans to invest a further £26 million ongoing annual funding in Health and Social Services
Too little, too late

2) delivery of the next phase of 'CSR savings'. 
This of course is government double speak for increased stealth taxation.

3) proposed £56 million for capital projects in 2013
Think of this as a strategic reserve with projects that can be delayed indefinitely to cover over expenditure in various departments

4) additional £14 million for Social Security by 2015
Too little, too late, they should be repealing the Social Security Law

5) £5 million initial allocation to The Innovation Fund for initiatives to boost business and create jobs through the “Back to Work” programme
Another completely pointless waste of money, simply repeal the Employment (Jersey) Law 2003 and watch employment rise rapidly.

For each of the years the Plan includes:
1) targets for States income 
In other words how much additional tax they will need to extort from the population

2) total States net expenditure limits
'Net of depreciation'. Depreciation is where the cost of say a refuse truck is spread over several years to match its expected lifespan. So if it is net of depreciation then it completely ignores any expenditure of this type whatsoever.

3) expenditure limits for States Funded Bodies
How many more senior civil servants will be employed

4) net capital expenditure allocations
Net of what? I presume this means that they will deduct any disposals they make from the expenditure. This means for example if they want to build a new hospital then the cost of building it will be £x minus the proceeds of disposing of say Girl's College

5) allocations for central contingencies
Another reserve (or the source of the annual 'we have more money than we thought' headline in the JEP)

6) allocations for States Trading Operations
Subsidies for what purports to be a business running on its own merits.

Unfortunately it fails to address the key local concern, What is the government going to stop doing?

The strategy has fundamental flaws...

1) That it is based on a strategy of growth over the next three years, when it is clear that the financial sector worldwide is about to be decimated by fines, court cases etc.. It actually predicts an annual 5% increase in the GDP of Jersey at a time when the rest of the world is struggling to make a 1% increase in GDP.

2) That it is possible for government to do more, with less resources when the reality is that the best that can be achieved is that government do less with the same resources.

3) At least they have stopped calling things savings and now refer to CSR savings, which simply means that it is stealth taxes and not income taxes which are funding the above inflation increases in States Expenditure.

Tom Gruchy has posted a video response from the Minister for Planning and Environment.