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22/09/2011 | Webreality

Jersey election: which candidates are pro-enterprise?

Week before last, the Jersey Chamber of Commerce presented its annual debate, which was entitled, “Economic Diversity: Luxury or Necessity?”

This isn’t the place to revisit the full narrative of the event; it’s enough to record that there was general agreement in the room that:

  • a more diversified Jersey economy was desirable, 
  • that it would be take many years to achieve, and 
  • that government’s most important role was to create an environment where businesses could start up and thrive without impediment.

That last piece of the puzzle is my subject today.

Jersey needs jobs created. Study after study of job creation shows that it happens in volume at the small end of the business spectrum - Harvard’s Professor Josh Lerner, the keynote speaker at the Chamber debate, made that point himself.

So I’ve been looking at the manifestos of candidates in the senatorial and deputy elections, and I’m struggling to find a single candidate who demonstrates an understanding of the need to make it as easy as possible for new businesses to start up in Jersey.

It is not government’s job, in my view, to try and identify new sectors or industries to encourage and nurture. Entrepreneurs will always take care of that, given the right conditions.

In a climate where job creation is one of our greatest social and economic challenges, what place does the regulation of job creation have on Jersey’s statute book? The Regulation of Undertakings law was conceived in a different era, when heat needed to be taken out of our economy. It is out of date and out of time. It should go.

Bank take-on procedures should be simplified for start-up companies, especially where the entrepreneur is already a client of the bank on her or his own account.

We hear that Jersey is “open for business”… Has anyone in the Economic Development Department actually tried to start a new business in Jersey in the past couple of years? It’s not much fun. I daresay it’s easier than in many other parts of the world, but is there any reason why Jersey shouldn’t be the easiest place in the world to start a new business?

I would like to see an end to Reg of Unds, a faster and less prescriptive business name registration process at the JFSC, the banks making it easy to open a new business account, and tax incentives for new businesses for the first three years (eg reduced employer’s social security contributions and a favourable rate on dividends.)

That’s how we’ll get new jobs, new businesses, new sectors, more diversity of revenues and employment opportunity.

Any of the candidates care to comment?