The uncertainties inherent in Brexit are dependent on the path taken by the United Kingdom and the Crown Dependencies are working together. We need to be cautious. Whatever route we follow, the Council of Ministers must keep both the States and the Public well informed and no decisions should be made on the public’s behalf without putting the matter to a referendum.
The new hospital has been the focus of much attention and has overshadowed consideration of other aspects of the Health System.
All the plans put forward by Health are demanding in terms of the capital required to finance them and it is essential that a close watch is taken on this capital spending. The FPP warn of trying to continue with large capital expenditure when in the pro-cyclical stage of the economy which can be inflationary. The combination of the new hospital and the mental health facilities at Overdale, whilst necessary, total some £500 Million. This is an exceedingly large sum for a small Island. It is necessary that we reconsider the affordability of this expenditure.
In addition the lack of transparency with regard to the site selection process has handicapped the hospital project and has antagonised many Islanders.
At the same time the attitude to the ageing population has concentrated on the “problem” aspect of the demographic and segregated the older generations so that they feel unwelcome in their own island. It is essential that more is done to encourage the different generations to mix as well as encouraging genuine integration within the population.
Significant reforms of the structure of the Public Sector and of the States Assembly were passed by the States in the penultimate sitting of this Session. Whilst the moves to remove the silo mentality are welcome, it is difficult to estimate the actual effects of the changes and these must be evaluated carefully..
At the same time there are suggestions that Scrutiny should be brought into Policy Development at an earlier stage. This must be supported as it will enable a more inclusive approach to governing the Island.
It is also essential that sensible environmental practices are adopted based on valid scientific evidence. These will improve living in the Island for residents as well as improving it for Tourism. We need a concerted effort made to reduce the incidence of sea lettuce in St Aubin’s Bay. This must be developed in conjunction with the relevant utilities and the agricultural industry
The global outlook is uncertain and this is complicated by the uncertainties attached to Brexit. Combined with this are the uncertainties in the local economy following the reforms being developed for the Public Services.
I agree that no organisation can stand still and that States Departments must review their organisation structure and evaluate whether their administration systems are efficient.
However great care must be taken when reducing staff within any workplace. It is irresponsible to declare people redundant when they are of an age where finding another job will be difficult and where they contribute to the Corporate Memory. There is also a likelihood some may be replaced by contracts with private sector companies who may be employing staff at very low wages.
It is also essential that all departments fully consider the services which they supply and decided whether they are essential, or simply nice to have.
The MTFP forecasts a surplus of £332,000 in 2019 after depreciation. This is an extremely narrow margin., The Fiscal Policy Panel have advised prudence and seeking out ways in which the same services can be delivered but with fewer resources.. The current policy of proposing additional contributions based on gross income and calling them charges is somewhat cynical – a tax is a tax no matter how you dress it up!