Wednesday 28 April 2021
General Update from Committee for Economic Development President Neil Inder
Members will recall that in my last President’s update I made a number of commitments and I will give an update on the Committee’s progress over the past six months and on our future plans.
The Committee’s vision for the economy is to be investing in new and innovative economic opportunities that will position Guernsey as a ‘go-to’ jurisdiction of choice for a wide diversity of global business.
The government work plan must focus on economic recovery and growth in the short-to medium term in order to create the revenue to enable investment in other areas of policy and services. And, we must maintain a competitive environment through strengthening our transport and digital connectivity and understanding our approach to risk as an economy.
We must be outward looking and ready to adapt to the challenges and opportunities presented in the post-Brexit economic settlement; and, for that reason, I am pleased that the newly established Trade Policy Forum will be meeting on 18 May to provide a forum for business and government.
All of this means we need to increase our economically active population, upskilling our islanders so that they can benefit from the economy of the future. Last week’s joint meeting with the Committee for Education, Sport and Culture to discuss skills was a restart of that ambition, with a policy letter coming to the States in 2022.
Guernsey Finance/Finance Sector
We are supporting our finance sector. Next month the final paper will come to the Committee that will agree the future funding for Guernsey Finance as government signals its support for this most important of sectors.
Enabling legislation is the Committee’s bread and butter. The States has agreed to introduce legislation to enable the use of Limited Liability Companies and we will continue to support finance sector innovation to ensure that the sector remains at the cutting edge.
Digital connectivity is a legacy that the whole of this Assembly will leave future generations – fibre to every home in Guernsey is the goal. The broadband working group will shortly conclude its work to identify the best way forward on that infrastructure.
The Committee remains committed to working with other Committees to boost air and sea connectivity when we exit from lockdown.
Whilst reliable and robust freight sea links have been maintained during the pandemic, the focus is now on how to grow sustainable sea links for passengers and cars – going north, south and inter-island. Working alongside the Policy & Resources Committee, the Committee will continue to work towards securing a long-term agreement to secure a robust, reliable and affordable ferry service that has the capacity at the right times of the year to meet demand from users.
In respect of aviation, the Committee is reviewing the business case for extending Guernsey Airport’s runway; and we will come back to the States with that work before the end of this year.
I have committed to a review of the Aircraft Registry and I can confirm that this work is now underway, following changes made to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the Aircraft Registry.
This is an area that can significantly boost many areas of our economy, and the STSB commitment to looking at airport infrastructure and land use is part of this same overall strategy.
In my last update, I committed to transforming how we market ourselves as a visitor destination; to setting out a plan for investment in our tourism product and an accommodation strategy that ensures that we have appropriate bed stock and enable closed hotels to change their use to benefit the wider economy.
We are already working closely with the tourism industry to develop a new campaign and a new approach to marketing ourselves as a tourist destination to broaden the Island’s appeal to younger visitors.
We are developing a new tourism strategy, and it really is a blank canvas in which the whole of the industry is engaged. Sports Tourism, Large Events, General Aviation are all on the table; Guernsey will come out of the pandemic in better shape.
In addition, we are working to fast-track a change of use for sites that are designated as hotels but never will be hotels again. Quite frankly, the visitor economy is evolving, and if we can use these sites to support other types of development we should do so.
We also need to develop a coherent and co-ordinated approach to the long-term sustainable management of our marine and terrestrial environments allowing economic potential to be maximised, and the Committee’s aim is that work on the blue economy is prioritised within the government work plan.
The Committee will also support entrepreneurship to enable new businesses to grow and thrive. The Digital Greenhouse and its partners already provide advice and support to entrepreneurs as well as access to mentors and advice on accessing finance. And we are building on this.
Small businesses are drivers of economic growth and the Committee will work to enable opportunities for regeneration, not least in St Peter Port and at Leale’s Yard.
Our opportunity to change the way we use town is one we must grasp. Making the centre of town a place to live will regenerate retail and hospitality sectors and support our tourism strategy.
We are working hard to make it easier for local businesses to apply for and win contracts from the £200 million that the States of Guernsey awards annually. The States already spends about 57% with local businesses. Guernsey money spent in Guernsey is good for Guernsey.
Locate Guernsey is attracting new business and talent to the Bailiwick and the Committee is already working with Locate, as well as the Committee for Home Affairs, on further optimising the Open Market as an economic enabler.
We also welcome the Population Management review which is being set up by the Committee for Home Affairs and look forward in inputting into that important piece of work.
We have received the feasibility study for an international university. There is further work to be done to consider smaller-scale options and I will update Members in due course.
The Committee wants to promote and support the emerging medicinal cannabis sector but this needs Committees to work together. This is a sector in its infancy, and we must ensure that the regulatory and licensing framework protects our reputation but also enables innovation.
This needs co-ordinated cross-Committee support, and the President of the Committee for Health and Social Care Deputy Brouard, Deputy Helyar and I are meeting to discuss how we do that. In short, the opportunities in front of us are ours to lose.
To conclude, the Committee is working hard to achieve outcomes which will drive sustainable economic growth and will enable Bailiwick businesses to not only recover from the Covid-19 pandemic, but also to grow and thrive. This will enable local residents, businesses and visitors to make the most of all that the Bailiwick has to offer.