The minister who has come bottom of an online survey of favourability ratings says that he and his colleagues are paying the price for taking difficult decisions and failing to get their message across.
Treasury Minister Alan Maclean scored the lowest approval rating of any of the 16 politicians included in the online poll by independent political campaign group change.je, with a -62.71% rating. He was closely followed by Senator Philip Ozouf (-62.48%), Infrastructure Minister Eddie Noel (-49.48%) and Health Minister Andrew Green (-49.2%).
Responding to the results, Senator Maclean said that the ratings were unsurprising, considering that he and his colleagues had to deal with a £145 million potential deficit in States finances. That "black hole" has led to redundancies, a public sector pay freeze cuts to services, and £55 million worth of new taxes for health and sewage.
The Senator - who came fourth in the October 2014 Senatorial election with 11,698 votes - said that the difficult decisions that ministers had taken over the last year would lay the groundwork for sustainable public finances for years to come. He also said that while they could have massaged the figures and pretended that there wasn't a problem, but that the responsible thing to do was front up to the scale of the issues and be honest about them.
Senator Maclean said: "The survey result is really not a surprise as it would be rare for a Finance Minister to be very popular and especially in an environment where he is faced with having to find a solution to a funding shortfall of £145m within a few weeks of taking office.
"The Council of Ministers could have approached the problem in a number of different ways. We could have taken the easy option, massaged the figures, borrowed some money, spent more of our reserves and said we'd close the remaining gap as the economy grew in the future and thus effectively passing a much bigger problem to future generations.
"We decided to be absolutely open about the challenges we faced and set about developing a Medium Term Financial Plan to deal with them and deliver a balanced budget by 2019. A plan to set the foundations for strong public finances for future generations. It was clear to us that the Island could not afford to continue as it was and that the level of change necessary to modernise the public sector and put public finances on a strong long term footing would be difficult and in places very unpopular.
"I am obviously disappointed to be bottom of this poll and think my rating and that of the Council of Ministers also reflects the fact that we haven't managed to explain as effectively as we could have exactly what we are doing and why? We need to find ways to improve our communications and level of engagement with the community so we can take them with us on this difficult but necessary journey."
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