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Statement by the President of the Committee for Economic Development

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Wednesday 29 March 2023

General Update

Madam, Members of the States

This is the fourth update as President of Economic Development and as I do at every update, I would like to thank my team for their work, including our NSMs.

Guernsey needs to remain competitive as a jurisdiction and to be an attractive location for investors and to do business.

The Committee's focus is to ensure that businesses have access to the labour and capital that they need to grow and thrive, that the Island has excellent digital connectivity and air and sea links and that trade agreements are established that enable local businesses to sell their goods and services both on and off-island.

Taken together these factors will ensure that Guernsey is a good environment for inward investment and trade that can drive both innovation and economic growth.

But what does that mean to our Committee?

And what can we do as a government?

To answer the first question, it's Education, Skills and People; educated, work ready and the right people to drive the Island forward is something we ALL need to get behind.

The Committee recognises the importance of access to labour for the success of local businesses. One of the key priorities within the Government Work Plan is the Human Capital Development Plan.

Working with the Committee for Education, Sport and Culture, we have agreed a draft policy framework. This will enable a comprehensive human capital development plan to be implemented to develop islanders' skills and productivity. An immediate focus will be to deliver improved adult skills and lifelong learning opportunities along with literacy.

In order to deliver the outcomes of the policy framework, the Committee considers that this would best be done through a skills development body that will be able to benefit from industry input and leadership.

Proposals for this are being discussed and, subject to agreement on these proposals and the required funding, the Human Capital Development Plan will be published by Q3 2023.

There are elements of the Government Work Plan that are under scrutiny, if not under threat, but I can't imagine any member of the Assembly would agree that a badly educated or unskilled workforce is good for the Island.

We would expect the Human Capital Development Plan to survive any GWP review and the Committee will ask for support from the Assembly for that position.

And to answer the second question:

Our growth and the sustainability of our main industry and our workforce are dependent upon housing, housing and a bit more housing.

If there is one legacy that this government can leave to future governments it is a sustained and protracted plan for housing for key worker and social housing.

The finance sector contributes around 40% of the Island's Gross Value Added and is a key engine of economic growth.

The significant increase in funding for Guernsey Finance agreed by the Committee, in conjunction with the Policy & Resources Committee, has produced tangible results; with two new South African businesses establishing a domestic presence and a significant pipeline; including two new banking licences. 

Guernsey is now the largest domicile for captive insurance in Europe. The funds sector has also shown solid growth over the last 12 months and the total net asset value of Guernsey Green Funds increased to £5.6 billion at the end of September 2022. 

And Guernsey winning CityWealth's International Finance Centre of the Year has not been a bad end to 2022 and is a great start to 2023.

And this is how we as a government can really drive growth; growth in our workforce by increased participation and by increasing the population in line with the Population and Immigration Policy Review agreed last year, investing in our education and skills base to improve our productivity, and investment in our housing and construction sector. Most of which may not be delivered in this term, but if the Assembly can look back and say that we, as the government of 2020-2025, left a plan for the next two or three governments, we will have done well.

On matters of housekeeping and general updates.

Delivery of a digital skills programmes has continued to be delivered through the Digital Greenhouse.

Over 90% of jobs now require digital skills, meaning digital skills are critical areas of skills development that underpin any new venture or career. As part of the Human Capital Development Plan the role of the Digital Greenhouse will come under review.

The Committee has continued to support Guernsey's strong commitment to investing in the entrepreneurship as part of its Economic Development Initiatives. These have been delivered through the Digital Greenhouse in partnership with industry.

In terms of developing entrepreneurship on the island, we have focused on two priority areas: considering proposals for the development of a Guernsey Enterprise Investment Scheme and assessing the potential of Enterprise Zones. Proposals for a pilot project to trial a Guernsey Enterprise Investment Scheme are well advanced.

The Committee is aware that there have been issues in relation to the provision of domestic credit cards. This issue is common across the Crown Dependencies and officers are working with the other Crown Dependencies and with the Association of Guernsey Banks and progress has been made.

One of the areas which has been identified is the lack of an open domestic electronic electoral roll and I'm grateful to Deputy Prow for the recent meeting on the matter. 

The Committee has been in dialogue with the credit reference agencies and the Committee for Home Affairs regarding the creation of an open electoral roll which can be used by credit reference agencies, and which will be in place for the election in 2025.

Complimenting that work I have had a very useful meeting with the Registrar of the Guernsey Registry who understands the validation challenges and we will be meeting again shortly to establish where the Registry may be able to assist.

And while mentioning the Registry, the Committee has also agreed a significant investment to upgrade the Guernsey Registry's IT systems which will enable the Island to meet its obligations in relation to the forthcoming MoneyVal evaluation.

I will now turn to sea connectivity. The purchase by Condor of an additional Roll-on Roll-off ferry is to be welcomed. An extra vessel increases the resilience and flexibility of Condor's fleet, which is clearly beneficial to our community as a whole. I look forward to learning more about Condor's plans for the new vessel and the positive impact I'm sure this will have on its schedules in due course.

The Committee has implemented a new governance model to oversee the marketing and promotion of the Bailiwick of Guernsey as a destination. A New Tourism Management Board has been established. 2023 is likely to be the first full tourism season uninterrupted by travel restrictions arising from the Covid-19 pandemic and I am pleased to report that forward bookings for this season are looking positive.

The Committee has noted the construction industry's concerns about the review of the States of Guernsey's capital projects recently announced by the Policy & Resources Committee.

The construction industry needs a clear project pipeline in order to be able to plan and resource for the delivery of States' projects.

The Committee hopes that any review of the capital projects portfolio will be brought to a swift conclusion to provide certainty to the local construction industry.

Madam, Members, that concludes my fourth update and I look forward to questions from members.

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