Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Digital Downloads and Ozouf's Legacy

Listening to the radio this morning, I was thinking that Jersey has missed a trick. Digital downloads collect VAT in the location in which the purchaser lives. Why couldn't some of the larger retailers, such as Amazon, collect GST as well, so that the increased move to digital downloads would still provide extra revenue to the local tax payer. Even if Amazon took a cut for processing the GST, Jersey would still be better off.

I'd suggest Ministers read this article - "The Global Trend to Tax Digital Services" to see what is happening worldwide. Other jurisdictions are all waking up to this - it is about time we did!


On the economy in general, the architect of the black hole must surely be Senator Ozouf, who reduced the marginal rate of tax, and was set to do it again when blocked by the States Treasurer (who resigned "because of personal reasons" soon afterwards. Extravagant vanity schemes like those at St Mary were budgeted for, the criminal confiscation fund was pillaged to pay for Plemont, and a money was wasted on planning for a two site hospital project. Past Ministers should not simply "move on" and forget their own legacy as if having a different post wiped the slate clean.

In this respect, there were two good letters in the JEP which I reproduce below.

Letter from Alan Hall

The Jersey Evening Post of 25 July contained a lengthy interview with Senator Ozouf which included the following comments: 'I do not recognise this phrase "black hole" because it gives the impression that somehow it is a problem of today; the situation is a challenge but it's doing what we have always done in Jersey - forecasting a problem and fixing it before it happens' Are we going to make some adjustments about the way we spend taxpayers' money? Yes. But what we are doing now is creating a place which is going to be a better, more efficient low-tax Jersey by 2020.'

I am baffled that Senator Ozouf believes that the 'black hole' is just a challenge it would appear that he has conveniently forgotten that this deficit arose over the past few years when he was Treasury Minister. It is also plain to see that this 'black hole' is spiralling out of control, as only last April we were told that the deficit had increased to £125m to then be informed a couple of months later that it was now forecast to be £145m.

I am also confused regarding Senator Ozouf's comments that we will be enjoying lower taxes by 2020. While. I appreciate that the Senator's current role enables him to travel the globe promoting Jersey at the expense of the taxpayer and as such he is presumably not that often in the Island, one would expect that he is kept fully briefed by the Chief Minister. Over the past few months a multitude of new taxes have been proposed; the majority targeted at lower- and middle-income Jersey and in particular the pensioners. However, it would appear that Senator Ozouf is oblivious to these.

Has the Senator not heard of the recent plethora of suggested new taxes, these including increasing the marginal rate of income tax, a sewage tax, a property tax, a health tax, the removal of the pensioners' Christmas bonus, scrapping free TV licences for over-75s ;and last week's most recent proposal to charge pensioners-should they decide to travel on the buses in peak hours?

Having recently clarified his 'mistake' over the, International Finance Centre and prelets, suggesting that this was in fact an 'inconsistency' on his part, is Senator Ozouf's vision of a low-tax Jersey, which appears to completely contradict the recent numerous tax proposals made by the Council of Ministers, just a case of more spin on his part, or will he come up with another buzzword to explain this apparent difference of opinion?

Letter from John Storey.

I have read your full-page interview in the JEP of 25 July on Senator Philip Ozouf. Why did you not ask about his trips abroad, and what benefit they were or are to Jersey? I quote from something he said way back in 2013: 'Jersey's efforts in continued engagements in these regions (India etc) are now paying dividends in terms of creation of new business and translating into new jobs in Jersey.'

Looking at what is happening in Jersey right now, this doesn't seem to be the case. Other questions that could have been asked are, why is he working in London? How much is that costing for board and lodgings and flights? What happens when he gets ousted at the next elections? In fact, would there have been a job in London if he had lost his seat?

It stinks and it doesn't bode well with the electorate. Do we send another States Member to work in London? You are in a very privileged position where-by you can ask these questions and keep asking until you get the answers for your readers.

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