Under a barrage of criticism from the business world and the public, and faced with a mounting list of amendments from fellow politicians, Senator Le Sueur is approaching next week’s marathon Budget debate convinced that his tax-raising measures are vital to help balance the Island’s books and maintain the underlying strength of the economy.
He believes that Islanders of the future will be grateful for tough decisions taken now.Seven amendments have been lodged in advance of Tuesday’s sitting, with at least another eight waiting to be finalised.
Senator Le Sueur is proposing a range of measures that include capping mortgage interest tax relief, raising duties on alcohol, tobacco and fuel and increasing vehicle registration duty by 25 per cent.The amendments mean that next week’s debate is likely to stretch over three or four days, and that it will be a hard-fought battle for the Finance and Economics Committee.Opposition to the Finance proposals extends beyond the States Chamber, with a group of businessmen planning a protest on the first day of the debate, which they are dubbing ‘Black Tuesday’.
Deputies Phil Rondel, Geoff Southern and Celia Scott Warren as well as Senator Ted Vibert have all lodged amendments, and further proposals are expected from Deputy Lyndon Farnham among others.Despite the amendments and the public outcry against some parts of the Budget, Senator Le Sueur maintained that what his committee were proposing was in the Island’s best interests.’We have now trimmed States spending considerably with a growth next year of only one per cent, which is actually a reduction if you take inflation into account,’ he said.
‘As we maintain this pressure on States spending, so we should see inflation fall.’However, if we simply do that alone, we shall still end up with a deficit.
We shall still be spending more than our income.
Having squeezed spending as far as we can, the only remaining solution to balancing our spending is by increasing income, and for next year we have achieved spending growth cuts of £12 million and are proposing to increase taxes by £9 million.’He said that by attacking deficits at both ends – by decreasing spending and trying to increase revenue – the States could cope with the short-term problems and prepare themselves for the medium-term problems of the anticipated £100 million shortfall in tax because of the EU tax measures in 2008.’The general public, not unsurprisingly, are concerned about various aspects which might affect them, and it is often difficult to reconcile their particular concerns with my vision for the long-term needs of the Island as a whole,’ said Senator Le Sueur.’I am comfortable that what we are proposing is the right thing.
While I may not be able to convince them on Tuesday, I hope that if these measures are passed then in ten years time people will look back and be pleased that I had the courage of my convictions.’