JERSEY’S Chamber of Commerce has criticised the proposed Government Plan for its ‘limited level of detail’, particularly in relation to policies on tax incentives.
However, the body, which represents the Island’s business community, also recognised ‘positive aspects’ of the plan, such as the allocation of £710 million for the hospital project, ‘a critical healthcare infrastructure need’ and the extension of longer-term capital projects beyond ten years.
A statement on the government’s latest budget – released last week and set to be debated in December – began: ‘While we appreciate the efforts put in the plan, there are some areas that require further clarity and attention.’
One of Chamber’s ‘key concerns’ was around an allocation of £450,000 for tax incentives.
The statement said: ‘The plan does not sufficiently elaborate on how this funding will be utilised or specify the focus of these incentives. We urge the government to provide more transparency regarding the intended use of this allocation, especially considering its relatively modest size relative to the overall budget.’
Chamber further believe it is ‘crucial to understand whether the £450,000 will be allocated to roll out RegTech initiatives’.
Chamber president Adam Budworth explained that regulatory technology, or RegTech, was an ‘emerging technology that involves the implementation of digital tools and processes that improve the way organisations manage their increasing regulatory compliance commitments’.
‘Clarity on this matter would be greatly appreciated. It is unclear from the plan who will approve the allocation of the £450,000,’ he said.
The statement also reads: ‘The plan appears to lack initiatives targeted at young professionals returning to the Island after their education. Incentives and support mechanisms to attract and retain these individuals and harness their expertise could be beneficial for the Island’s long-term development.’
Other areas of concern included the absence of departmental headcount details, urging the government ‘to provide clarity on their plan to reduce the headcount’; and the ‘significant’ increase in expenditure from £1.041 billion in 2023 to an estimated £1.202 billion in 2024, which prompted them to encourage a ‘limit on expenditure’.
The body praised the plan’s announcement of ‘a longer-term capital plan in Q1 2024, extending beyond the typical ten-year horizon’.
Mr Budworth said this referred to projects such as the hospital, the Opera House and Fort Regent, and said the extension was ‘good news for the construction and related trades on the Island’.
He continued: ‘While there may be hidden opportunities within the plan, such as the £450,000 incentive for RegTech and the allocation of resources for sewage infrastructure, we emphasise the importance of comprehensive planning and cross-utility collaboration.
‘The Jersey Chamber of Commerce is still actively pushing the Government to develop and publish the Tourism and Retails strategies, both of which play a significant part in the plan.
‘We remain committed to working collaboratively with the Government to foster economic growth, support the business community, and ensure the prosperity of the island and its residents. We look forward to continued engagement and open dialogue as we collectively navigate the path forward outlined in the Government Plan.’