From Phil Perchard.
I WOULD like to comment on the population growth policy that is being proposed in the Stategic Plan White Paper.
In recent times many politicians, particularly those involved in the development of the finance and banking industries, have promoted the view that the Jersey economy is somehow sheltered from wider global events. Unfortunately, the harsh reality does not conform to this cosy political view. The time to face the facts is well overdue.
The White Paper seems to be constructed on the assumption that once we come out of this recession, it will be business as usual. It does not adequately address the possibility that the economic future of Jersey is likely, of necessity, to be fundamentally different from what it has been in the recent past.
In times of recession and depression governments have the tendency to underestimate the extent and the knock-on effects of the downturn. It seems that the present global economic and financial collapse is a prime example of this. In the UK, for example, forecasts for recovery have got progressively worse.
One of the most serious shortcomings of the White Paper is that it fails to take into account the impact the wider global meltdown will have on the local economy, especially with regard to present and future employment levels. Rising unemployment in Jersey is a serious concern in the short to medium term. It is utter folly to even contemplate growing the population when unemployment levels are high.
Also, it is folly to even contemplate calculating a net inward migration figure without factoring in projected unemployment figures. It is glaringly obvious that the ratio of employed to unemployed depends on the numbers of people who are unemployed. It is wrong to merely assume that present and future unemployment figures will be as low as they have been in the past.
The population growth policy is seeking to address the problem of the declining dependency ratio. This ratio will become more severe as the employed to unemployed ratio declines. This is all very simple analysis which the White Paper fails to properly consider when proposing population growth.
There is a possibility that relatively high unemployment will become the norm in Jersey for many years to come, and dealing with this should be one of the focal points of any strategic plan. Projections of unemployment levels must be made before population growth policies are considered.
The White Paper fails miserably in this respect.
Grande Route du Faldouet,