Guernsey Chamber was delighted to welcome Deputy Neil Inder, new President of the Committee for Economic Development to the November OGH lunch where a capacity crowd heard details of his planned style of leadership of this important group.

“Members of the Chamber of Commerce I’d like to open by thanking you for the lunch and inviting me as the President of Economic Development to speak to you today.

I hope over the next 15 minutes of so I will make clear our Committee’s agenda and give you an insight into our policy agenda, introduce members of the new team and how we are going to include the business community as part of the conversation.

There are three immediately noticeable differences between being the President of the Committee for Economic Development and not being the President of the Committee for Economic Development.

The first is that when you tell business that you Committee is open to approach – everyone wants to meet.

The second is that everybody shares their ideas.
And the third is that what you say gets into the Guernsey Press.

The first two are really good news. I said in my speech to the States that the Committee for Economic Development neither owns the Economy bit nor the

Development bit; the inclusion of those at the coal face of delivering on the economy are extremely important.

The third one is probably ok too, though I have to remind myself that words can come back to haunt you if I’m not careful.

What the Press printed last week in an interview I gave was accurate, and although a week is a long time in politics, what I said still feels right today. My over-riding message was that we – all of us, business, government and wider community – have got to be positive

That while it is winter right now, there will be green valleys and golden pastures at the end of this.

In the words of the late, great Joe Strummer, and I promised my daughter I would get a Clash reference into a speech one day “The future is unwritten” So yes, it’s tough right now.And yes, it might get worse for a bit.

But yes – we are resilient, innovative and bloody-minded on this island. We will get through Covid. Business will get back to pre-Covid days, aircraft will fly, people will travel and business will be placed. It is in humanities nature to get up, dust itself down and carry on.

But first we need to get through this winter. Things are tough.

Over the past months everywhere in the world has faced an unprecedented public health and economic shock, one that has fundamentally changed the way we live and work – For now.

In Guernsey we have been fortunate to a degree that the finance sector, representing over 40% of our economy, has only been minimally impacted by the crisis, to date, which has kept a significant proportion of our population employed and in a position to begin spending again as restrictions lift.

Our unemployment peaked in late May at 5.2% and is now down at 1.8% as at 3 October. This compares to 1% at the end of Q3 2019.

The Committee for Economic Development will prioritise a reassessment of the island’s air connectivity objectives, last agreed by the States in December 2018.

The world has changed since then. Reviewing these now will feed into the air policy framework that is being finalised by the Policy & Resources Committee, and enable the Committee to understand if policies such as quasi-open skies help or hinder the delivery of our objectives.

We will also be working closely with the Policy & Resources Committee on digital connectivity. We have meetings or events coming up with all three of the island’s telcos. We have been listening to them and will continue to do so, and will shortly take a policy letter to the States setting out our objectives, how we plan to get there, and how we will invest in order to do that.

The engine of our economy is the finance sector and it is world class – funds, fiduciary, insurance and banking sectors that have a track record of quality, stability and innovation.

In meeting with the representatives of the finance sector during the course of the election and since, they asked for a number of things. That we stay competitive, we invest in transport and digital connectivity, we reduce red tape, and we invest in promotion.

We need to support Guernsey Finance and its new leadership in marketing what Guernsey has to offer, and a proposal for increased funding will be with the Committee soon.


When we do get through this elongated winter and can effectively reopen our visitor economy, we need to make sure that Visit Guernsey is ready and equipped to meet that challenge and opportunity.

This means we also need to think differently in how we market ourselves as a tourist destination and whether this is the time to transform VisitGuernsey into a public private partnership, or some form of LBG, and into the consolidated agency model.

On that challenge, we are about to begin the process of overhauling how we market ourselves as a visitor destination; to set 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.

And on the Accommodation Strategy Deputy Vermuelen has wisely said “it’s better to have voluntary accommodation sector than conscripts” – And I agree with him.

The Committee for Economic Development is welcoming the decision by the Committee for Home Affairs to amend the population management regime, to support seasonal workers and the local businesses they work in.

Our workers who hold short term employment permits are a crucial part of the work force and there are a lot of businesses that would struggle without them. This is swift action to support them and ensure they don’t need to leave the Island. The pandemic has had a big impact on businesses and government needs to do everything it can to help them, so they’re in a position to recover and grow as quickly as possible.

In addition the Committee has listened to the visitor economy sector. We will, as part of the recovery strategy, be recommending to the States significant investment in Guernsey’s tourism product, and in enhancing the island’s visitor accommodation.

We have got to maximise the reasons why people come here – Victor Hugo attractions, our World War Two heritage, and a wide range of accommodation – including camping and self-catering – will help to drive that.

And of course a short term plan to bring visitors back to the Island in any new season will mean that VisitGuernsey and Aurigny could and should work closer together. If you think of the logistics industry their model is moving 40ft containers around the world. They leave a port full and try and get the same container back full. An aircraft is a 40ft container with wings on it – there is little or no difference.

Our Committee will make every effort to build a stronger working relationship with the States’ Trading Supervisory Board. The development of partnerships will be one of the most visible aspects of the new Committee’s work.

The Committee will work closely with the Committee for the Environment & Infrastructure to develop a plan for the blue economy. And I’m conscious that there are a number of members of the Chamber of Commerce that have strong and sensible views on how Guernsey can develop the marine facilities and marina offering. I will commit this day to working with Chamber to create some form of marine forum to progress those ideas. Our Committee will put local talent and knowledge at the centre of its policy making.

The Committee will also work closely with Deputy Prow and the Committee for Home Affairs to ensure that the approach to population management supports the economy and the work of Locate Guernsey. We will find ways to

fast track bringing good business and growth to Guernsey and I welcome Deputy Prow’s support in doing that.

The Committee will also work closely with the Development & Planning Authority in this term too. I am sure that Deputy Oliver will help to lift the planning regime out of the suffocating red tape mire. And I am relieved to see that we have an open-minded President and a new Committee that recognise that they are key to many aspects of economic recovery.


Of course, it is not just the finance and tourism sectors that needs fresh impetus to aid recovery. The Committee also supports other sectors of the economy – and is providing funding to enable the establishment of the Guernsey Retail Group, to support a Retail Manager position and data and footfall monitoring.

We will work closely with the construction sector. The Construction Industry Group is developing a sector action plan – the Committee welcomes their approach, and looks forward to discussing it in detail with them, and working in partnership with them to make it happen.

Part of that means giving our construction a fair chance of winning major projects on-island. That approach will run through this Committee’s work – localisation, ensuring that when the taxpayer is funding a project big or small, as much of that funding goes to local employers and local workers. That is essential for recovery. We must do this.

The Committee will work closely with the States’ procurement team and local businesses to achieve this. Prioritising investment in our economy and our businesses is one of the most effective actions this government can take.

And I can inform the Chamber that that work has already started. I’m in close communication with the Procurement lead, we have had sight of a plan that we can implement within three months or so.

Our next steps will be to identify those sectors of the economy which could potentially be targeted. As part of this we will develop some criteria which will help ensure focus on those areas which add economic value and can be performed productively on-island.

I am also pleased to emphasise that the revised procurement policy requires that the States does not, through its procurement practices, inhibit or unfairly disadvantage SMEs But we can still improve on that.

I have been asked what we can do for the creative industry. And my response is as it has been for years.

There is little or no excuse for any government agency to put creative work that could be undertaken locally, outside of Guernsey. The aim is to bring as many of the creative contracts that could be undertaken by locally based agencies back to Guernsey where that is possible within the States ofGuernsey’s procurement policy.

Government money, on island, benefitting Guernsey business.

We have a fantastic on-island creative sector, and government should take the lead in using it and showcasing it as much as possible.

The Committee is aware that there are new sectors and new opportunities that we need to enable.

We will do what we can to promote and support the emerging medicinal cannabis sector, and to develop the opportunity for export ad well as growing and progressing.

We will also focus on support general and commercial aviation. We will develop the 2-Reg offer further to ensure it can license efficiently and effectively, and we will strive to make Guernsey a place for small planes as well as big ones!

Finally, I’d like to reintroduce the Members of the new Committee for Economic Development. The current Committee brings a diverse set of skills and experience to the table and the Committee’s responsibilities will be roughly carved up along the following lines:

 Deputy Steve Falla will be a capable Vice-President with a remit to ensure that government and business are aligned.

  •   Deputy Nick Moakes will provide leadership on the Committee’s work with the finance sector,
  •   Deputy Sasha Kazantseva-Miller will lead on digital business, entrepreneurship and skills, working closely with the Digital Greenhouse and other partners to promote entrepreneurship and to transform our skills base on the island.
  •   And Deputy Simon Vermeulen will lead on tourism and industry, which will include the retail, construction and manufacturing sectors.So we are up and running and trying to move at pace. Meetings are being set up with other Committees to ensure partnership. The Committee would also appreciate input from the Bailiwick’s key industries – whether that be Finance, Tourism, Retail, Construction or Manufacturing.The Committee’s door is open and we would like to hear industry’s views on what Government can do to promote and enable both economic recovery and economic growth and to ensure that any barriers are removed.Finally, let me make it absolutely clear.
    Guernsey is a fantastic place to live and work.
    Can we make it even better as a place to do business? Yes.

But the fact that we are all here together today means that we all feel the same.

Government neither owns the democracy nor the economy – you do, the community does.

Thank you.”