The States' books are balanced, says Gorst

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THE States books have been balanced nearly three years ahead of schedule, the Chief Minister has revealed – just two years after minsters warned there would be a budget shortfall of £125 million by 2019.

Senator Ian Gorst said that accounts due to be issued within the next few weeks would show that the Island's economy had grown by 2.2 per cent – more than double the forecast – with income higher than the Council of Ministers had expected.

His message comes after a predicted shortfall of £125 million in States finances – dubbed the 'black hole' – in 2015 sparked a wave of public sector job cuts and proposals for a new health charge, benefits cuts and user-pays fees, in order to fund priorities in health and education.

But on Tuesday the Chief Minister said there had 'never been any black hole' and added that the growth in the economy showed that the Council of Ministers' plans were working. He said the financial services industry now employed over 13,000 people – more than in 2007, before the global crisis – with States income showing a good return on investments as a result of the Brexit 'bounce'.

In the private sector, assets under administration and management had grown, with jobs growth in areas other than banking, he said.

'Our economy is doing incredibly well, although that brings challenges. Our finances have turned the corner and are healthy, income is above what is expected, departments have spent less,' Senator Gorst told a business audience at the launch of Enterprise Week.

He added: 'We must do all we can, but balancing the books early on is a good thing.'

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