Experience has shown that achieving sufficient agreement among States members to enact changes is very difficult. Yet there is still an urgent need for reform. The electoral system is unfair and unbalanced. Some electors elect 4 deputies, and others only one. In one electoral district a deputy represents 1340 voters; in another, a deputy represents 4010 voters, about 3 times as many. Work must continue to secure a majority for sensible reform. Most importantly, the number of members should be reduced. It is not sensible to have more States members than are needed. A fairer system will encourage a higher voter turn-out.
STRENGTHENING THE ECONOMY
The financial services industry is the major plank of our economy, providing the bulk of tax revenues and much employment, and must be supported. At the same time it is vital to create an environment in which fresh enterprises can flourish and create new employment opportunities; red tape and obstacles to business should as far as possible be eliminated. Agriculture and tourism are also very important elements of the economy, and need our support. Everyone in the community should share the fruits of economic success.
The only justification that a government has for taking money from the public is to fund essential public services. Jersey should continue as a low tax economy, with income tax remaining at 20%, which is now a symbol of our financial stability. As soon as the economy permits, some allowances should be restored to ease the burden on “middle” Jersey. No one likes paying tax, but GST is an effective and reliable way to raise revenue. It should continue to be broad, simple and low; it should not be permitted to rise above 5% for the foreseeable future. Protection for those on lower incomes should be achieved, as now, through the income support system.
THE PUBLIC AND PRIVATE SECTORS
The government of Jersey must live within its means. Not all departments have adapted to the more stringent times in which we live. Certain important services can best be provided by the state, but the government should try to identify areas where services can be provided more effectively and cheaply through private enterprise and the voluntary and community sector. The cost of government must be contained and the public finances balanced.
More individuals should be helped to become homeowners. The government should act to make that dream become a reality for as many young Jersey people as possible.
RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES
All citizens should be encouraged to lead independent lives, to develop their talents to the fullest possible extent, and not to be dependent on state benefits. Citizens have rights but also responsibilities to maintain and improve the quality of life in the Island. It is nonetheless the duty of a civilized and caring society to protect vulnerable members of the community, whether they are elderly or sick or otherwise deserving of support.
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