Chief Minister defends lack of response to business leaders’ letter

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THE Chief Minister has defended his decision not to respond to 19 business leaders who issued a letter accusing his government of failing local firms during the coronavirus outbreak.

States sitting at Fort Regent due to the coronavirus outbreak. Picture: JON GUEGAN. (27660150)

Details of that letter sent on 19 March emerged this week, with those behind it saying they had not yet received a response from the Chief Minister.

In the letter they accused the government of not acting quickly enough to help firms, many of which, they warned, would collapse without urgent help leading to job losses. They also accused the Chief Minister of showing an ‘abhorrent’ lack of leadership.

In the States yesterday, the Chief Minister was asked by Deputy Jess Perchard during questions without notice why he had not yet responded to the letter.

Senator Le Fondré said he had been busy focusing on the health response to the coronavirus crisis but would engage with the signatories in due course, potentially with an invitation to a face-to-face meeting. He added that his government had unveiled a multi-million-pound support package for business. Those behind the letter, however, have argued those measures do not go far enough.

‘Six days to get an £180m package in place is not bad going, plus all the other measures we have moved on,’ said the Chief Minister. ‘One or two of the people who had signed that letter are supermarkets, who are having some of their best seasons since Christmas.

‘We have to focus on making sure we have the health impacts in place first.’

He added: ‘What I do accept is we will get a response to them – we might even offer to meet them face to face. Just because we have not responded to a letter from one group – there may have been some other priorities, which I won’t go into in the public domain, which may have been a higher priority because of their health implications.’

Lucy Stephenson

By Lucy Stephenson

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