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It's time to fight for what we love

It's time to fight for what we love

Friday 20 March 2020

It's time to fight for what we love


If you need me to tell you that we have, overnight, stumbled over the threshold into a very different world, then you really haven't been paying attention.

It's been a week of emotion, confusion, anger and fear - and that's just amongst businesses who have watched in shock as 'cash' is abruptly sucked out of the economy, fearfully chasing its partner 'confidence' into self-isolation in their customer's bank accounts.

That matters, deeply, for every single one of us who earns a salary. 

Perhaps one positive effect of this horrible time is that we will finally understand as a community how important strong businesses are to our society.

I spoke to one retailer this week who was in tears in his shop, having built it up for nine years, and is now - overnight - seeing custom dwindle away without a trace, as islanders solve their other problems by staying at home. I heard a customer sagaciously opine that businesses should have prepared - save it for Facebook, mate. 

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Pictured: Jersey's Emergencies Council meeting to decide on how to tackle the corona virus.

A crisis of this abruptness, this magnitude, this depth, is impossible to prepare for, unless you have the cash resources of a major, or multi-national, firm. For other businesses, it is the equivalent of a sudden and ("but he always seemed so healthy") debilitating stroke.  

That is happening as you read this article; in many cases, the money which businesses expected to have in their accounts to pay their staff isn't arriving. As if it was needed, that creates more fear, uncertainty, and in another revolution of the same deliciously ironic spiral...a further lack of confidence. 

This week, the Government proposed (parts of it still need States Assembly approval) a package to help out, including payment holidays for GST and Social Security, loan guarantees and disruption/stability funds.

If those loans aren't ever repaid, all the bank guarantees are actually called in, the funds are all paid out and the GST/Social Security payments aren't ever made, then it apparently amounts to £180m of support - or about 4% of our GDP. The government keeps telling us not to compare our current situation to the UK... but compared to the UK package, that is about about a quarter of their size (being 15% of their GDP). 

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Pictured: Senator Lyndon Farnham will be asking States Members to back support plans next week.

The Minister, Senator Lyndon Farnham went on the record to say that no business would go under, not on his watch. That's quite a commitment, and one every single person in Jersey who earns a salary should help him deliver. It's going to be expensive. 

With that point in mind, I'm sure he will have been as deeply angry as many others to see that the States Assembly saw fit to meet only on Wednesday afternoon this week - for a couple of hours - to update, yes, on the corona virus position - but the only other item of actual business was to update their own procedures to allow remote working.

And that's it, folks, until next week. Local government - agile, flexible, caring, and responding to your needs! 

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Pictured: The clock is ticking for the States to deliver some actual support for businesses. 

Or perhaps not. Next week, they may (or may not, that's the beauty of democracy) agree some new money for businesses. Which may arrive in the form of hard cash at some point soon. They may even extend what's on offer further, in recognition of the precipice which some companies have been pushed on to. They may publish the detail, so businesses can see what's actually going to - maybe - happen. 

They may. We'll see. And that's the point - we sit here at the end of a paradigm shifting week, having had the sort of experience after which nothing seems like it will ever be the same again, and our States Assembly has managed to... update its procedures.

The longer they wait, the more expensive the vital support becomes. Literally, every day comes with a big bill. And every day is a step closer to the end of the month, when most businesses will have to pay salaries - has the government acted quickly enough to get sufficient cash into their accounts before then? Almost certainly not. 

Corona virus has struck the world with a suddenness and severity which will change the way we live; we must act with a similar, unflinching, resolve to protect what we love. In this particular context, that means jobs, it means livelihoods, it means prosperity. Over to you, States Members.

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Comments

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Posted by Janice Eden on
I noticed this morning that it was raining. Is it possible the guardians of our Rainy Day Fund might notice as well
Posted by Mary Horton on
Well said, Editor.
Posted by Paul Troalic on
If ever there was a time for our politicians to show their mettle, it is now. This will sort the men from the boys. The thinkers and doers from the those that just leave it to everyone else.
It will be very interesting to see who shines through. We’ve all got views on who these will be. I think deep down we all know the slackers.
We all need to pull together and act like responsible human beings. And we should all think very carefully about where in the world we buy our goods from and whose economies we support.
Posted by Scott Mills on
they only know a couple of things, how to be reactive (not pro) and make sure their benefactors and mates are A ok. I think if one firm folds, Farnham should step down! Actions over words.
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