Proposals to ensure the Government spends as much of its money as possible on local businesses have been unanimously backed by politicians.
Deputy Kirsten Morel’s proposal, entitled ‘Putting Jersey businesses first’, aimed to put local suppliers, employing Jersey-based staff, ahead of suppliers based elsewhere – to bolster the local economy in the wake of the virus crisis.
Procurement processes will now have to include a 'positive weighting' in favour of local suppliers, while the Economic Development Minister will have to produce an annual report about the activities of the government's top suppliers.
Originally due to be debated on 1 June, the 'Putting Jersey businesses first' proposition was deferred after the Council of Ministers published an amendment less than two days ahead of the debate - a move which angered Deputy Morel.
At the time, he described the amendment as “destructive”, saying it “won't do a single thing to help Jersey businesses”.
Pictured: Deputy Morel published the ‘Putting Jersey businesses first’ proposition.
But he eventually accepted the amendment, meaning that the debate was able to proceed yesterday.
Introducing it to the Assembly, Deputy Morel said the Government, as “the single largest buyer of goods and services in the island”, was “better placed to use its spending to help stimulate the island’s economic recovery”.
He also explained his proposition aimed to shed light on the Government’s purchases by ensuring they would publish an annual procurement report detailing its spending with the top 100 suppliers by value across goods and services.
These facts and figures, he said, would help islanders understands how much business is being sent off island and alleviate their concerns about the “destination of our tax pounds”.
Pictured: The Government will have to publish an annual procurement report detailing its expenses of the top 100 suppliers by value across goods and services.
Deputy Morel reminded the Assembly that the Government has so far failed to reveal the amount of money it spends on procurement and that it was only on the date of the original debate that the Treasury Minister, Deputy Susie Pinel, had released some figures.
These showed that out of the £241 million the Government spends on procurement – over 25% of its overall budget – the majority of it was spent on-island.
However, Deputy Morel noted that the £73million that had “leaked off island” represented “quite a staggering” 50% increase on the figure from the previous year.
The St. Lawrence Deputy also said the proposition relied on the implementation of “a system of weighting” that would “genuinely attribute the value gained by sourcing goods and services from within the island; so that when the numbers are crunched, the economic, social and environmental value that comes from buying locally is factored into the purchasing analysis into account".
Pictured: Deputy Morel warned that if local business owners didn’t feel valued by the Assembly, the future of the island would be a bleak one.
He urged fellow States Members to support the proposition, saying there was no “better sign of support” for local businesses than the Assembly standing together and saying, “We will do everything we can to make sure the Government of Jersey sources goods and services from the island wherever it can."
Indeed, Deputy Morel warned that if local business owners didn’t feel valued by the Assembly, the future of the island would be a bleak one.
Concluding his address, he urged the Assembly to heed the motto from a Scottish town, “We will keep our island in business by keeping our business in the island."
Several States Members spoke in support of the proposal, including the Treasury Minister who thanked Deputy for accepting the amendments. She said she was “very keen” to support the proposition and the Deputy would be included in further consultation on the subject of procurement.
The Environment Minister, Deputy John Young, congratulated Deputy Morel on his proposition, saying it set “a new visionary approach on having an evidence-based government”.
Pictured: “It is important that we spend as much of her budget as possible on local economy," Senator Farnham said.
The Constable of St. Brelade, Mike Jackson, described the proposition as “very sensible”, highlighting that Jersey businesses are “immediately disadvantaged by GST being automatically added to their contract” while the high cost of living works against them.
He also noted the “tendency for imported senior Government staff to lean towards the encouragement of their former colleagues”, saying that while some are committed to the island, others are here only for their betterment and will be gone at the first opportunity.
Senator Lyndon Farnham, the Economic Development Minister, welcomed the introduction of “supply-use tables” requested by Deputy Morel, saying they would help understand all the connections between different sectors and inform the recovery strategy post-covid.
“It is important that we spend as much of our budget as possible on local economy,” he said.
Pictured: The Constable of St. John, Chris Taylor, urged all islanders to buy local produce.
The Constable of St. John, Chris Taylor, not only urged the Government to buy local, but also all islanders.
“Everybody should buy what they can in the island,” he said. “When you go into supermarkets look for Jersey produce first.”
His comments were echoed by Deputy Morel himself, who encouraged islanders to make “the extra effort” of queuing in shops instead of buying things “with the click of a button”, reminding them that by supporting local businesses they were literally supporting themselves.
Deputy Jeremy Maçon warned that there should be an evaluation in the procurement process so that businesses cannot exploit the situation and set higher prices simply because they are local. Deputy Morel however said he was confident procedures would not be abused.
The proposition was adopted unanimously with 43 votes.
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