Over the last nine weeks, the Government Plan Review Panel has coordinated a full and detailed review by the five Scrutiny Panels, each focusing on their specific aspect of the Government Plan. In addition, it has conducted its own review into overarching concerns such as whether the Government Plan is consistent with the Common Strategic Policy and the values and priorities of Islanders.
This overarching review has resulted in 15 findings and recommendations, mainly relating to the Government’s proposed borrowing strategy, funding allocations and revenue raising measures.
During its review, the Panel was concerned that the Government Plan 2021-24 runs a high-risk strategy which burdens the Island with a large debt and has therefore brought forward an amendment that proposes reducing the level of borrowing by at least one third. The Panel believes that the reduction in borrowing could be funded by facilitating a community bonds programme and/or making better use of States-owned property and other assets.
Senator Kristina Moore, Chair of the Panel, said “We have been really impressed with the thorough and fast reviews by the individual Scrutiny Panels. COVID-19 has had an inevitable impact on the Government’s spending strategy, which has led to them taking on a proposed debt exceeding £400 million. We think that mainly borrowing to meet funding requirement is a one-dimensional approach and we have proposed a blended approach in order to reduce the debt burden.
She continued “We’re delighted to see that, since drafting this report, the Government has responded to the concerns of the Assembly by lodging last minute amendments to reinstate funding for the Ombudsman, Jersey Premium, care-leavers and the refurbishment of Elizabeth Castle. Reducing, or otherwise diminishing, the funding in these areas was entirely contrary to the Common Strategic Priorities we agreed and have been working towards since 2018. I’m confident that these, and other findings and recommendations, will help in the formation of the next Government Plan for 2022-25.”
Scrutiny Press Release.