Better ways to help the high street, Scrutiny told

THERE are ‘more beneficial’ ways to help the high street than the government’s plans to recoup further GST from online shopping, a consumer watchdog head has told a Scrutiny panel.

Carl Walker, chairman of the Jersey Consumer Council. Picture: ROB CURRIE. (31078709)
Carl Walker, chairman of the Jersey Consumer Council. Picture: ROB CURRIE. (31078709)

Under Treasury proposals, large online retailers could be required to start charging the 5% tax on sales to Jersey customers from the start of 2023.

But Carl Walker, chairman of the Jersey Consumer Council, said the government should instead be removing barriers to shopping in town, and that the proposed changes would adversely affect lower earners.

‘The government would rather attack the competition than roll their sleeves up and work with local retailers,’ he told the Corporate Services Scrutiny Panel.

Mr Walker added that the council had suggested a number of initiatives they thought would be ‘more beneficial’, including free parking during the weekend and free bus travel on a Saturday into and out of the town centre.

The government could also consider capping rent costs per square metre for retail outlets, he explained, saying that this would ‘level the playing field’ in a far more effective way than the planned changes to GST.

Asked by Senator Steve Pallett, who is leading the CSSP’s review into proposed changes to GST, whether there should be a closer correlation with the government’s retail strategy, Mr Walker replied: ‘Absolutely.’

Senator Pallett and the panel was scrutinising the government’s review into GST collection to make sure any changes are applied in a ‘fair, consistent way’.

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