26 November 2012
Ladies and gentleman
On behalf of my Assistant Minister Eddie Noel and I, it is my enormous pleasure to welcome my four predecessors here today, former Senators Reg Jeune, Pierre Horsfall, Frank Walker and Terry Le Sueur. Taken together, past and present, we represent nearly three decades of stewardship of Jersey’s public finances. There have been a number of evolutions of the Public Finances Law over the decades.
Next Tuesday is the 2013 Budget which will, I hope in time, be another landmark day for the evolution and strengthening of Public Finances when the Medium Term Financial Plan is brought into legal effect.
Governments around the world face deficits and financial challenges, Jersey stands out a rock of stability. The reason Deputy Noel and I are able to put forward such a robust plan, is because of the legacy we inherited from our predecessor and each of the former Senators that are here today played their part in building those foundations.
Sometimes the decisions required to safeguard Jersey’s financial future can be extremely challenging – even dare I say unpopular. All of the former Presidents here today have faced critical and difficult moments during their terms of office. Because they faced up to those challenges, each become the architects of our Island’s strategy.
Former Senator Jeune – it is a particular pleasure to welcome you here today. After Former Senator Vibert – you took over from the 23 year legacy of the man that bears this building’s name – Senator Cyril Le Marquand. In your term of office you created the Strategic Reserve. You not only set up the Reserve, but you also made two vital decisions, which have held us in good stead. That the fund would be rolled up, and not spent…And also, that we would only withdraw from the fund based on a proposal from the Finance and Economics Committee. That has given us an important discipline, and a legacy that has endured for the past 25 years. And if I may say each of your predecessors ended their term of office with the fund in real terms higher than when they started.
Former Senator Horsfall – at a time when finances became tighter, you introduced essential controls for cash limits and how we manage expenditure. You also introduced Loan Sanctions to enable some major Capital Projects, including the Airport and the Marina to happen. At the same time as reining in on spending, you established the Tourism Investment Fund, which has since evolved into the Tourism Development Fund.
Former Senator Walker – you pioneered the further development of our Public Finances Law, making it stronger and better. You inherited a situation where Committee capital overspends where endemic. You tackled this issue, and it is fair to say that we have never seen any capital overspend since then. At the end of your tenure you left public finances in a stronger position than when you arrived.
Terry Le Sueur
Former Senator Le Sueur - having had many years of experience in Social Security, you foresaw the issues of an ageing population years before anyone else. You conducted one of the largest Financial Reviews we have ever seen, guiding us successfully through the challenges of 0/10. You also oversaw the introduction of GST, which while controversial, has been absolutely vital to diversifying our income base, and to protect the island. Additionally, you set up the Stabilisation Fund, which has been critical over the past five difficult years, to insulate our community from the worst effects of the global financial crisis.
Past financial foundations
In a world of short-term-ism, we can sometimes forget the past that has brought us to where we are. Today, we remember and I offer my thanks and gratitude to you all, for the solid financial foundations you have created for us all.
I would also like to say a special thank you to Colin Powell who has joined us today – he has been, and remains, a constant and vital support to all Ministers, past and present.
Finally, I would like to thank you, the Treasury Team. The Medium Term Financial Plan is the culmination of a huge amount of work by you all and we owe a large debt of gratitude. I would like to ask the former Senators to join me for a photograph under the portrait of the great Cyril Le Marquand, who was President of Finance and Economics from 1954-1980. The photo will be printed as a memento during our lunch and presented to the former Senators as a small token of our gratitude.