Thursday 08 June 2023
The Policy & Resources Committee is setting out a timetable for the States Assembly to debate three of the most significant plans of the political term: the Government Work Plan, the Capital Portfolio and the Funding & Investment Plan.
Every year, the States Assembly debates and agrees its priorities, and the funding plan to support those.
Following the Tax Review debate in February which resulted in no single, comprehensive plan to address the costs for health services driven by the changing make-up of the Island's population, this year's decisions about Government priorities and how they are funded are even more important, and will be even more challenging given the enormous pressures on public finances.
Deputy Bob Murray, the Policy & Resources lead for the Government Work Plan said
"The work of Government is broad and complex, even when stripped down to the essentials, and so we appreciate that the detail of how these Plans work together and how they will be debated this year won't look simple, but we want to also be transparent with our community about what these Plans are and why we're handling them this way. The bottom line is we need to ensure we are only doing work that is genuinely critical, and that we can pay for that without completely exhausting Guernsey's reserves and leaving the community vulnerable. That's what the debate on these Plans will be about."
The Committee has decided that there should be a two-stage process in debating the three Plans.
On Tuesday 13 June it will publish the Government Work Plan in the form of a 'mid-term reset' for debate in July - this is the plan that coordinates Government's strategic and policy priorities, as proposed by all of the States Principal Committees.
The Policy & Resources Committee will then return to the States at their 27th September meeting, knowing the costs of the Government Work Plan priorities, and will present those alongside a revised Capital Portfolio, the plan that deals with infrastructure priorities. At the same time, it will present how all of that will be funded, set out in the Funding & Investment Plan. This will help Deputies make decisions on what infrastructure projects they can afford and how to schedule them and how they are funded.
Ahead of the debate on these Plans, the Committee is concerned that the cost of the biggest building projects that need to be prioritised is far more than Guernsey can afford without exhausting its reserves. Therefore, the Committee is already considering borrowing, as part of the overall solution. But crucially, this could only be on the basis that there is enough revenue to service that borrowing.
Deputy Mark Helyar, Vice-President and Treasury lead for the Policy & Resources Committee said
"In previous years, the Government Work Plan, Capital Portfolio and Funding & Investment Plan haven't been the most headline-grabbing pieces of States business, and that's understandable given their role has been more to coordinate the overall work of Government. But now, getting them right is more important than ever. These are huge decisions on whether we can deliver our most essential priorities. This is about whether we can afford to do the 'must-do' work of Government as recommended by the Principal Committees of the States."