Covid-19: Stimulus funding ‘in the tens of millions of pounds’

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During a press conference on Friday, Senator John Le Fondré also said he expects government support for businesses to start ‘tailing off’ towards the end of August, at which stage targeted investment into the economy can be expected.

Treasury Minister Susie Pinel stated earlier this week that she intended to pump ‘fiscal stimulus’ money into projects that might reduce Jersey’s carbon footprint, boost tourism and develop new business patterns such as remote working.

Senator Le Fondré said that a ‘ballpark’ figure for the initial wave of stimulus would be ‘tens of millions of pounds’.

He added that at some point there would be a ‘cross-over’ between these measures, and existing business support measures, such as the payroll co-funding scheme.

‘I don’t want to put anything on the table yet. For me co-funding has been extended to the end of August and I think then what you are going to see is the fiscal stimulus side will start picking up when that starts tailing off,’ he said.

‘We are dealing with weeks into months. Over the course of the summer we will be getting things in place and if we can send things out earlier we will do.’

He added that money would also be held in reserve in case further stimulus is needed in the event of a second wave of the virus.

The Chief Minister said that he expected the payroll co-funding scheme to cease for many firms in August but added that support would continue to be provided for those that need it most, such as in the hospitality sector.

He did not give any further detail on what other industries may be eligible for further support, however, or how the eligibility criteria might change.

When asked whether the government would consider selling its assets to replenish money spent on the Covid-19 response, he said that tax rises, rescheduling of capital projects and making efficiencies in the public sector all had to be considered.

‘The high-level argument is that nothing is off the table and everything is on the table at this stage. These are literally the types of discussions that we will be having to have over the next few weeks,’ he said.

‘Can we accelerate things that generate cash that are not tax rises? Do you look at the capital projects? There was concern from the FPP that investing in too many capital projects may have been inflationary. Hopefully, now we are instead in a position where capital projects may be able to launch earlier to support industry. Others might say that we should defer those projects.’

He added: ‘If you look at the money we take out of people’s pockets as a tax, at what point in time will you need to do that? Will and should you because you have to consider the economic impact of that on business?

‘With the impact of a lot more remote working and things like that are there things that we could continue to be doing and in a more efficient way. Then it comes down to the balance sheet and capital assets and should you be holding them in a different way or sell part of them.’

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