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‘Be brave’ and scrap de minimis threshold, says St Helier director

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JERSEY’S government is not being ‘brave enough’ with its proposals for lowering the threshold for tax levied on imported goods, St Helier’s former town centre manager has insisted.

A 'living building' in Singapore (25587130)

In its recently published Government Plan, politicians have proposed that the GST de minimis level – the price threshold for imported online goods that are exempt from the tax – should be lowered from £240 to £135.

And last month, Treasury Minister Susie Pinel suggested that the de minimis level could be lowered to £100 due to Customs and postal checks becoming more cost-effective.

However, Daphne East, who was town centre manager for five years before she was promoted to the role of director of customer and care services for St Helier this year, said far more radical action was needed to help retailers.

‘I do not believe lowering the de minimis level to £135 is far enough,’ said Mrs East. ‘We have retailers on the precinct who are paying rents and investing in staff. They cannot sell goods at the same price [as companies outside of Jersey that import them] because they have to apply GST [on goods sold in the Island].

‘So it’s an unfair playing field and I would like to see it removed. If you are going to lower the de minimis level, be brave and lower it to zero.

‘Whether government is brave enough to do that, based on the recent de minimis figure proposals, I don’t think they are.’

Mrs East, who said her new role would ‘absolutely’ allow her to have a say in shaping the town centre’s future, added that town needed to follow Singapore’s lead in ‘greening’ all new buildings to make the shopping proposition in the high street more appealing.

In Singapore, it is enshrined in planning law that all new developments have to include plant life in the guise of green roofs, vertical gardens that cascade downwards from a building, and green walls.

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Mrs East added: ‘Living green walls are all over Asia and any new building in Singapore now has to have a roof garden or a living wall or some kind of green element.

‘I would love to see that planning stipulation over here, so that when a new development happens in the town centre, it has to give back green space or roof gardens or the “greening” of shops and car parks.’

She said that such a planning provision ‘would help with carbon [offsetting]’, with making the town more visually appealing and ‘more of a pleasurable experience’ for shoppers.

Two years ago, developers Sentry Properties submitted plans to make one side of Sand Street car park St Helier’s first ‘green wall’. However, the proposals were later withdrawn.

Mrs East, who was promoted to her new role in March, said town centre management would still come under her remit. She added that she plans to appoint a new town centre manager in October.

David Edbrooke

By David Edbrooke
Journalist

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