Drawing the battle lines for 2013
Friday 11th January 2013, 4:30PM GMT.
CALLS are growing for more transparency over how States departments intend to comply with the savings directives demanded under the island’s financial transformation programme.
In some respects, that’s hardly surprising.
The Policy Council has refused to answer media and other questions on this and the fact that they are necessary indicates its report on FTP, which the Assembly will debate later this month, may have some deficiencies in it.
Unfortunately, however, the demand for more information is being led by one of the more vocal tax-and-spend deputies and one who was fully involved in the decision to close hospital wards to minimise its own busted budget at Health and Social Services.
It is, therefore, a bit rich when he now asks for members to be able to endorse specific FTP initiatives when HSSD not only afforded no such courtesy to the States before stopping operations and shutting wards, its political board resigned as a result.
In those circumstances, it might be useful to question the motives of those asking for more openness.
The current Policy Council and Treasury and Resources are united in their understanding of and need for FTP to be delivered. Without £31m.-worth of recurrent savings, the ‘black hole’ structural deficit remains and taxes have to rise.
To do that without government having demonstrated it, too, understands austerity would be a slap in the face for taxpayers, which is why the council and T&R want to hold the FTP line.
However, the ‘States of Change’ is starting to develop an opposition to the PC/T&R axis and what better way of guaranteeing the failure of FTP than letting deputies cherry pick which savings go through and which ones do not?
The benefits of doing so for the opponents of FTP is that taxes do rise and that they can carry on spending other islanders’ money with no regard for the consequences or without having to tackle government waste, bureaucracy and enlarged civil service.
Domestic issues – and this one in particular – will dominate 2013 and the battle is over whether the Assembly votes for narrow self-interest or for what the island actually requires.
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