Thursday, 19 February 2015

Some Recent Ministerial Decisions

Musical Teams

According to the Ministerial decision, the “Tax IS Team” will be moving from Treasury to the Chief Ministers department. But only virtually, not physically.

“The Tax IS Team will remain physically located within the Tax Office and continue to provide dedicated support to the Tax Office. However, operational, HR and financial management will be administered by CMD.”. It appears this team is IT related, and I assume IS is "information support" in this context. Really, the States website could do with an acronym finder.

The part of the team being moved includes a Director, Deputy Director, Assistant Director, Implementation Manager, three Implementation Analysts, a Technical Support Analyst and last and probably least, a Data centre Officer PEST, who no doubt says "Please Excuse Slow Typing". Some fancy titles there, and it would be nice to know exactly what they all do.

So it appears they stay where they are, but their personnel, budget, and assets (ITAX computer system, Server, Disaster recovery site server) will move to the Chief Minister’s Department.

The reason given for the move is as follows:

“With the increasing complexity of the technology infrastructure and the applications it supports, the organisation needs to combine its skills and capacity in information services; rather than continue with isolated teams expected to keep current with ever expanding technology trends.”

I am at a loss to see how a transfer on paper will do this, especially as they continue to stay exactly where they are, but just report upwards to the Chief Minister’s Department rather than the Treasury. It seems rather like saying of a small shop – you will be staying where you are, but instead of reporting to the head of grocery, you will now report to the head of retail. Managerial responsibility has changed, but the team remains where they are. Quite how changing managers helps isolation is not stated.

Also included in the transfer is £1,468,517 near-cash.

What precisely is “near cash”, you may ask? My jargon buster tells me that “Near cash" is a term used to describe assets that are not currently in the form of spendable cash, but could be converted into cash within a short period of time. Or if this involves IT people, they can cash in their silicon chips.

Emerging Emergencies

"Chief Minister to approve the transfer of the Emergency Planning function from the Chief Minister’s Department (CMD) to the Home Affairs Department (HA). Following a discussion between the Chief Executive, Emergency Planning Officer and the Chief Fire Officer in 2014 it was agreed that it would be more efficient for the Chief Fire Officer to line manage the Emergency Planning role and budget, if it were transferred to the Home Affairs Department."

Yes, another move of management from one area to another. Interesting, we learn along the way that Emergency Planning budget amounts to £150,031. It would be interesting to know how much of that is the salary of the Emergency Planning Officer, who I believe is still Mike Long.

He is supposed to plan for contingencies, but as you may remember, was caught out in March 2013 when the siren at La Collette started sounding out across the Island, leading to a veritable Twitter storm. Social media sites complained that there was no warning about the scare, and Mike Long said that methods for informing Islanders about what to do in an emergency would to be reviewed.

I haven’t heard anything more about what to do in an emergency, so presumably this is an ongoing review. Will two years be enough, do you think? Or did it get forgotten?

Crown Advocates (Jersey) Law 1987: Amendment

This is an interesting one for anyone who has made submissions to the Carswell review or looked at the separation of powers.

"The Legislation Advisory Panel has recommended that the Law should be amended in accordance with advice received from H.M. Attorney General, and further to the recommendations contained in the “Carswell Review” namely that the Chief Justice would not ordinarily expect to have any say in the appointment of a prosecutor which the Review regarded as inappropriate. The Chief Minister noted that the Bailiff and Deputy Bailiff had been consulted on the proposition and had agreed to the proposed amendment."

Or to put it in a nutshell, as it stands, the Bailiff’s consent is needed for the appointment of a Crown Advocate – he has a veto over the appointment. That is being removed.

The Bailiff also has a veto over which propositions can go before the States, which as a non-elected member, he should not have. Indeed, the current Bailiff, when Deputy Bailiff, appeared to use it to block a proposition by Deputy Mike Higgins, and the Carswell review also notes other cases where former Bailiff Sir Philip Bailhache blocked propositions from States members. In a democracy, a non-elected speaker should not have that right. It would be nice to see that consent removed as well.

Taxing Business

"The Chief Minister approved a request to be made to the Law Draftsman for further amendment of the Foundations (Jersey) Law 2009, which it was noted is already proposed to be amended by Regulations in respect of a record keeping requirement under the Financial Action Task Force (“FATF”) Recommendations."

This is actually deserving of higher prominence. I know it sounds dull, but stick with me. FATF is the Inter-governmental body developing and promoting policies to combat money laundering and terrorist financing

FATF published in 2013 a “Progress report and written analysis by the Secretariat of Core Recommendations”, and one of the recommendations was:

“Clarify the identification measures to be taken to satisfy a requirement in the Money Laundering Order to apply CDD measures (including enhanced measures) in a case where there is no face to face contact between the relevant person and the individuals who are concerned with a trust or foundation, or individuals who are the beneficial owners or controllers of a legal body – where the arrangement or legal body which is to be the customer is administered by a regulated trust and company services provider”

So there is a general tightening up of measures for due diligence according to International standards to ensure that clients can be properly identified, and not a fake identity for the purpose of money laundering. The JFSC also published sanctions lists of known individuals for companies to check their databases against.

In short, the work of regulation goes on in the fight against money laundering, but it can be incremental and low key, and hence gets overlooked by those people who make sweeping and often ill-informed generalisations about Jersey’s finance industry.

The Shipping News

Shipping (Fishing Vessels Safety Codes of Practice) (Jersey) Regulations 201-

"The current Shipping (Fishing Vessels Safety Provisions) (Jersey) Order 2004 replaced and slightly updated an old regime of triennial Regulations."

"It is now ten years out of date. Fishing boat accidents, sometimes leading to the tragic loss of life, continue to occur and the need for good safety awareness, modern equipment, good training and drills remains paramount in what is traditionally a dangerous industry. In the meantime, design, training and safety equipment standards have changed and the United Kingdom have introduced and continue to evolve modern Codes of Practice underpinned by law."

Perhaps prompted to finally get something changed by the accident when the Condor vessel struck and destroyed a fishing vessel, and one man died, Jersey is finally getting its act together. Apparently this has been a long time in consultation, but now is ready to go before the States. Much needed, I think.

The sea is treacherous enough, the Grey widow maker, as she is often called, and for once it is not health and safety gone mad, but very sensible regulations needed to keep crews safe. I remember in 1996 when the a Jersey boat developed a fire in the engine room, and the captain evacuated the crew, but tragically died himself. Could better regulations have prevented this tragedy? Possibly not, but everything that can be done should be done to ensure safety at sea.

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