Islanders are all increasingly concerned at the level of immigration and the knock on effects it has on infrastructure.
No one can deny the benefits of individuals with fresh ideas and specialist skills being brought into the Island.
But uncontrolled immigration is extremely worrying. Finding the right balance will be a challenge. All sectors contribute to our economy, but in the coming years, we must make best use of the talent available on Island, whilst at the same time supporting the non-financial sector who wish to grow their business and need off-island recruitment.
A new Population Policy has been lodged for debate after the Election. It is essential to make sure that the Policy will dovetail with the other policies for the Island. For example, by 2035 at the current rate of immigration, as recommended in the Policy, we will require another 185 Le Marais high rise flats to accommodate the population as well as 6 new Primary schools.
All strategic policies are underpinned by the size of population for whom we have to plan and the population and migration policy is one of the most important policies which we must consider along with finance.
The Fiscal Policy Panel have said that there is increased risk in the economy, particularly revenue trends, the ability to control expenditure and population. They also stress the importance of increasing productivity and say that it is possible that the structural deficit will not be fully cleared by 2019.
It is therefore more important than ever to sort out our taxation. There are three important facts to bear in mind:
- The number of people paying tax at 20% is 5,300 – down from 14989 in 2008, the number of people not paying tax has reduced from 20,000 to 14,800 whilst the number of marginal tax payers has increased from 37,161 to 39,800. Where have 10,000 taxpayers gone? (Figures from the last available data)
- Zero/10 is a glorious tax avoidance scheme which benefits the higher paid – is that where some of the 10,000 have gone?
- The grand Plan of the Council of Ministers was that more people in the Island equals more tax and more support for the ageing population. I have news for them –For an increase in population of nearly 6% the personal income tax revenue collected has fallen by 14% based on the figures the tax department have given me.
We cannot afford to bring in the charges until we have had a review of tax – the statistics I have indicated show that we are all being squeezed into the marginal relief band. Given that Guernsey and the IoM are also under financial pressure, its time for tax discussions – Brexit gives us that opportunity.
We also had a statement by the Minister following the FPP report that cutbacks could continue after 2019, a permanent programme to help curb States spending would be introduced and that the States is preparing for lower revenues.
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