Deputy calls for figures to back up ‘buy local’ campaign

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St Lawrence Deputy Kirsten Morel argued that the value of one pound spent locally was far greater than many realised.

He is now considering moves to reduce the value of goods that can be imported GST-free.

‘Quite simply,’ he added, ‘it is incredibly important to know that when you are supporting local businesses you are supporting yourself and the whole local community.

‘The money goes around and around in Jersey, supporting local shops, local contractors, local lawyers, local accountants – everyone benefits.’

In contrast, he said, money spent on non-local goods and services vanished out of the Island economy and did not support jobs or help pay for public services through taxation.

The backbench scrutineer has already lodged a proposition calling on the government to use its unrivalled buying power to support Island businesses and expertise.

‘My proposition is obviously focused on government spending, as they are the biggest buyer of goods and services in the Island,’ he said, adding that his proposition asked for data so that there was a better understanding of the multiplier effect of money spent locally in each sector of the economy.

‘It could be about using local consultancy services, local engineering companies or it could be IT. There will always be a need to buy in some expertise, but often it is simply about the face-value price and the decision-makers do not appreciate the wider impact of spending money locally.’

Deputy Morel revealed that he was now considering bringing a second proposition that would reverse a decision to delay the reduction of the de minimis level on imported goods. As things stand, GST is not payable on imported goods under the value of £250, the de minimis level, but the States agreed as part of the Government Plan to reduce the figure to £140. However, it has since been decided to delay the reduction as a result of the challenges presented by the coronavirus pandemic.

Deputy Morel said that it was very important now to make sure local retailers were operating on a level playing field, adding that he believed people had a moral duty to support local traders.

‘I get really upset when I see people buying from companies like Hello Fresh and buying fresh food items online when you can buy locally and get better quality and you are supporting fellow Islanders as a result,’ he said.

‘With a de minimis level of £140 you can still spend a lot of money outside of the Island, but I think that if you are able to buy locally you should buy locally.’

Deputy Morel added that people were already making more responsible purchasing choices based upon environmental concerns and to tackle issues like child labour and sweatshops.

Now, he argued, was the time to make choices to support the local economic recovery.

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