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Island services under threat as virus lowers GVA by 30%

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THE quality and standard of public services could be at risk if several of the Island’s industries continue to be suppressed amid the Covid-19 outbreak, the Economic Development Minister has said.

Senator Lyndon Farnham

Senator Lyndon Farnham made the comments yesterday, adding that the mechanism used to measure the Island’s economy – Gross Value Added – was already 30% down compared to normal levels.

He added that this demonstrated the ‘huge’ financial impact that the virus was having.

‘The GVA is how we measure our economy and we do that by taking the gross operating surpluses of businesses and adding that to the value of the compensation to employees. Simply put that is business profits added to payroll – that gives us our gross value added.

‘The worst-hit sectors are hospitality, tourism, wholesale and retail. The legal sector, education, health, transport and storage and other miscellaneous commerce activities are also affected. Tourism is running only at 6% compared to the same time last year and the other sectors I mentioned are running in the region of 30% to 40% of what they were running at last year.

‘[That equates to] £100 to £120 million a month [less], which is well over a billion pounds a year off the current value of our economy which is currently £4 billion. So that is clearly an unsustainable figure.

‘No firm modelling has been done as yet about whether we could exist on an economy of that size, as an island. Perhaps we could but certainly we would not have access to anything like the quality and level of services we enjoy now.’

Later, following a question from Deputy Mike Higgins, International Development Minister Carolyn Labey confirmed that the work of the Jersey Overseas Aid Commission continued during the crisis, working with the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

‘More recently we have given £200,000 to Ronhingya to help their plight. And we have, throughout the last five years, given moneys towards the Syrian refugees – and we give monies to OCHA – which are dealing with them,’ she said.

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‘They are on the ground and they can deal with them immediately.’

During recent weeks, Don Thompson, chairman of the Jersey Fishermen’s Association, has warned that his industry could disappear from the Island if it was not given financial support.

And yesterday Environment Minister John Young announced that an initiative would soon be delivered.

‘At the moment my priority has been to ensure that the details of the grant aid for the fishing industry have been progressed and that has been an issue I have raised several times,’ Deputy Young said.

‘But I am pleased to report that has now reached the final stage and is on the Treasury’s desk, and I have been promised action straight away.’

The minister did not provide any further details.

Ed Taylor

By Ed Taylor
Journalist

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