Thursday, 15 October 2009

0/10 and the cheapest feed in Town

We at The Voice thought that the free sandwiches had ceased, but today the Chairman’s Chairmens Committee members were still devouring them like Royal Square pigeons presented with a fist of corn.

Fortunately, we all know that there is no such thing as a free lunch and our boys over there in London – Chief Minister Le Sueur and his pal Senator Pip Ozouf of the Treasury – must have had indigestion following the annual Dinner for Crown Dependencies on the ominous 13th October. What did granny Ozouf used to say, don’t eat oysters unless somebody else is paying but don’t eat anything free on the 13th! Or was that ole granny Walker?

Well, it must have come as a shock to learn that the whole 0/10 economic policy was off – like some corked claret – and after all that expensive nurturing too – just because some countries in the EU have objected on the ground of unfairness!!! Who ever believed that life in a tax haven was about fairness?

Of course, this economic bombshell wasn’t on the agenda for the Scrutiny Chairmen because even after they had determined who should have the much prized prawn with mayo ( always high on the agenda at these meetings) they seemed very concerned that some Members of the States were not even serving on Scrutiny Panels. So they have decided to contact Bob Hill – who must be the hardest working and busiest Deputy in the building – to try to persuade him to join a Scrutiny Panel!! Perhaps they feel that he doesn’t waste his quota of time or is looking underfed? Anyhow, for some reason – perhaps he likes the prawn option – they couldn’t agree whether to invite Senator Syvret to join in with their fun and games too. We wondered why not?

Our particular favourite “Chairman” (that’s what she prefers to be called) Senator Sarah Ferguson suggested that her Panel might take a future look at States Employment policies and HR matters. She means Human Resources of course - not Human Rights because Deputy Bob Hill seems to be left with a total responsibility for those - and we have often lamented that the electorate had not shown closer attention where the Senator’s employment was concerned. However, we were surprised that she didn’t want to raise 0/10 through her Corporate Services Panel because just one week earlier she had had both Ozouf and Le Sueur in the hot seat under the white light of her inquisitorial gaze.

In fact, neither of our 2 most senior Ministers had even mentioned then that the Europeans had committed the gravest attack upon Jersey’s economic well-being since Adolf’s Heinkels landed at St Peter. Perhaps it had slipped their minds?
But they had outlined a whole new economic austerity package that required successive States expenditure cuts of 2% per annum within a strictly controlled 3 years Strategic Plan, which was to address the existing anticipated £60 millions “black hole” in Jersey’s economy, an immediate 6 months review of ALL of Jersey’s taxation policies, including GST and 0/10 and aligning with any GLOBAL TAXATION REVIEW STANDARDS etc. They stressed that all spending and all means of raising income were to be strictly reviewed. They were talking tough – or as tough as a couple of jelly babies can – and the steely Senator and her dynamic team (Deputy Vallois and Constable Murphy) occasionally stirred to comment. But since this was an “after lunch” meeting there was nothing to really excite the political taste-buds.

Of course, we had applied to video record the proceedings (and had complied with the absurd 3 day rule) but our favourite Chairman has her very own policy of a total ban on anybody except the “accredited media” making recordings and so we cannot bring you an instant video blog of the hearing and you must apply for the official transcript for the full text.
But, undaunted we asked her today for an interview about 0/10 and the dramatic announcement that it was as dead as an Esplanade Quarter Plan but of course, she refused, no doubt awaiting further instructions. We reminded her that the 2 most senior Ministers had not mentioned it just 1 week previously and although she agreed that they almost certainly knew about it then, she had no plans to recall them for a further grilling under the white light of transparency. Also she thought it very unlikely that she would want to invite Accountant Richard Murphy either in spite of the fact that he had been retained by the Jersey States and was sacked for advising against the adoption of the 0/10 taxation farce, many years ago.

What we say is, carry on buying your own sandwiches Bob and stay away from these time-wasters!

Submitted by Thomas Wellard.

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