The speaker at our rescheduled AGM on Tuesday 13 March needed little introduction.
Deputy Charles Parkinson has recently taken on one of the leading roles in the States Assembly, as President of the Economic Development Committee, and was keen to engage with business groups and industry. We too want to work with and support Deputy Parkinson and were grateful for his time, and that of Steve Wakelin, Head of Strategy in the States of Guernsey, who also attended.
Deputy Parkinson began by outlining that his views were very much aligned with the CGi in wanting to diversify Guernsey’s economy and lessen the Island’s dependency on finance.
He talked of the need for a greater vision for Guernsey, and in particular, the renewable energy project, proposed East coast development (the Seafront Enhancement Area, or SEA) and opportunities in data processing, cyber security and secure data storage and location.
Members were keen to ask Deputy Parkinson his views on the Population Management Law, which the CGi has campaigned for changes over the past year, and the President confirmed that a review, chaired by Chief Minister St Pier, had been underway. There was call for liberalisation of the law, even its abolishment completely, but Deputy Parkinson felt that the latter was step too far at this stage. It is likely a compromise would be reached in the coming months.
Deputy Parkinson talked in some depth of air and sea connectivity and told the audience that some progress had already been made. Eurowings, Loganair and another charter airline were due to commence flights this Summer and the Manche Iles Express inter-island ferry service was a promising start with more work required to improve links. Condor Ferries was likely to be sold by its current owner and Deputy Parkinson said the company was keeping him informed.
The Economic Vision Paper is being revised and needs high level objectives, which will focus on what we want the Island to look like in 10 years’ time. Deputy Parkinson also touched on a ‘Red Tape Audit’ and welcomed the CGi’s input in wanting to see barriers to new business removed and in particular called for evidence to show what impediments existed. The better the evidence, the stronger the case for their removal, he said.
Questions from the audience followed on the Population Management Law, notably if Brexit may make the new legislation redundant and whether deferred pensions could be introduced in Guernsey (the UK introduced these after the Second World War). Guernsey is well placed for such legislation – smaller working population and a States’ deficit but Deputy Parkinson advised there is no current appetite for its introduction.
The President talked of the need to increase Guernsey’s working population and said that there had been some improvement lately, as the numbers working had increased through the longer working lives campaign. The Brexit uncertainty in the UK was resulting in more people wanting to relocate to Guernsey.
The meeting finished with a social function and networking.