Attac Jersey is a Member of the International Tax Justice Network. We are Members of the Association for the Taxation of financial Transactions for the Benefit of Citizens, (ATTAC) and the Tax Justice Network, (TJN). The aims of both organisations are to research, educate and campaign to further public awareness. We are seeking to alleviate poverty through the creation of just taxation systems to fund social goods.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Letter to the Editor of the Jersey Evening Post.

No alternative?  Of course there is!  We’ve been offered one on a plate.

14th June 2011

Pat Lucas   Tax Justice Network  Jersey

In his letter dated 3.6.2011 Mr Boothman seems to suggest that Ted Vibert holds as a central policy that the finance industry has given Jersey more problems than benefits.  Well, perhaps he does and perhaps he doesn’t. It’s a pity you turned down his challenge Mr Boothman because now you won’t be in a very strong position to tell us what his central policy is or what he thinks of the finance industry will you?  Surely you know that Mr Vibert was simply issuing you with a challenge to publicly debate the motion with him at the Town Hall on the topic “That the finance industry has given Jersey more problems than benefits.”  That would have been useful, enlightening and of great benefit to a lot of people.

You point out quite rightly that the finance industry is of pivotal importance to Jersey. It employs thousands of people, contributes tens of millions of pounds to the Island’s exchequer and supports dozens of other firms.  All correct.  But is this enough? What Mr Vibert was asking, I think, was “What’s the cost of that? 
Remember, the finance industry in its present form enables the very wealthy and multinational companies to avoid paying tax. Why else would they put their money here?  No reason that I can think of.  But we, the ordinary people of Jersey are paying heavily for the fact that the rich aren’t paying tax.  For example, to make up for the hole in our finances caused by our unfair zero-ten policy that is solely designed to help tax avoiders we have to pay GST which has just gone up to 5%.  
Many hard working people of this Island as well as the sick and elderly are struggling to cope with the sky-high cost of living while at the same time watching our social services which are far from lavish being further eroded. Those young people who might wish to remain in Jersey see no future here and go away.  It seems that little respect is shown for our Island which is being defaced by huge, ugly “iconic!” structures or our people who are permitted free speech but nobody is listening.  We all know all this of course but little or nothing is done to remedy a worsening situation.
You say that, “…unless someone is doing the baking there will be nothing for the States to slice.”  Nice analogy about earning money!  We are perfectly aware that we have to earn our living.  Please don’t talk down to us.  We don’t like it.  Neither is it true that Mr Vibert’s policies are nihilistic/destructive or that he is willing to tear down but does not offer any credible, coherent ideas for what he would put in place of what we have now.  Have you ever taken the time to ask him what he wants to do?  Have you spoken to him?  He has already made it clear that he is happy to listen to highly talented men of intellect who are honest and generous with their time such as Richard Murphy, John Christensen, Prof. Prem Sikka and Jacques Harel.  
Last January Richard Murphy came to Jersey and at a public meeting offered us a way forward in which we can use the skills and expertise that have been built up over the years in the finance industry.  This is a credible and coherent Plan B which offers us an entirely new market that Jersey could exploit. It is the market for a well regulated low tax location where international transactions can be recorded for the precise purpose of ensuring they are not double taxed. 
He went into some detail of how this would work and, if implemented, Jersey could become the ultimate transparency jurisdiction for those companies around the world who want to highlight the problems in the world tax system, want to draw attention to them, want to avoid double taxation which is unfair, but who want to be open, honest and accountable when doing so when tackling this impediment to international trade.

We were given this opportunity “on a plate” so let it never ever be said that we have nothing to put in the place of the present system.
Plan B for Jersey deserves to be read in its entirety by anyone who is serious about finding a credible, coherent idea for Jersey’s future.   

This is real alternative thinking:  Mr Boothman may not like it because it upsets the status quo.  We recognise that all change is uncomfortable, but at least we accept that change is inevitable.  The economic model we’ve used is failing.  The world will no longer tolerate it.  We have to change.  We have laid out a pathway for change.  What is Mr Boothman’s alternative?  That’s what we’re asking and we’re not getting any answers.

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