This ‘crane facilities charge’ is nothing more than a stealth tax

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From Roger Bale.

WHO runs Jersey? Most of us would like to believe that as far as taxation and Island finance matters are concerned, it is the States.

The States, knowing that harbour dues affect the price of all goods used in the Island, have stated that these should not increase at a rate greater than 2.5%.

The latest figures from Harbours show them operating at a surplus, yet behind the scenes Harbours are introducing a stealth tax. This is described as a ‘crane facilities charge’. This proposed stealth tax drives a coach and horses through the 2.5% limit in annual rises of harbour dues.

It will be 80p per tonne in 2009, which represents a 10% surcharge in addition to the 15% already being applied. The proposed charge is scheduled to increase by a further 10% in 2010, a further 10% in 2011 and by 15% in 2012.

The cranes that are being replaced are 40 years old and their replacement is long overdue. The harbour accounts for 2007 contain the statement: ‘The commercial port ensures a good financial return needed to support reinvestment in port facilities and significant infrastructure.’

Harbours say that in 2005 the business model changed and that 2007 was two years into this changed arrangement. Given that the harbour’s gross operating surplus exceeded budget by 15% in 2007, there is clearly no need for this additional charge. To all these charges must be added the new 2.5% of turnover stevedore licence fee to be collected and paid by George Troy & Sons Ltd.

Jersey’s harbour costs cannot be looked at in isolation and the following comparisons tell the story:

St Peter Port: £7.31 a tonne (including cranes and crane operators). Portsmouth: £3.05 a tonne (stevedores provide and charge for cranes and operators). Jersey – £8 a tonne, not including crane operators which are supplied and charged for by stevedores.

The manpower costs are stated as £3,541,000 for the year 2007. Only a fraction of this can reasonably be required in connection with commercial shipping.

There are obviously costs and operating efficiency that can be achieved by Jersey Harbours. This is an area that should be receiving the attention of the Economic Development Department rather than seeking to pass it on by way of a stealth tax on the Jersey public.

Rocque Berg,

Grande Route de la Côte,

St Clement.

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