Charles Parkinson – Guernsey provides safe haven in troubled times

‘In the global context of political upheaval and slowing economic growth, businesses and individuals are seeking certainty and stability.

Guernsey can offer this stability, in spades.

With a 900 year history as a Crown Dependency, which is not about to change, and being already outside the EU, Guernsey is well-placed to weather the current turbulence.

As a jurisdiction with a mature political and legal system and a competitive tax system, Guernsey offers a safe haven in these troubled times.

But that safety is more than simply stability in an uncertain world – Guernsey has massive ‘social capital’, the cultural sophistication that makes it one of the most law-abiding places on earth.

In Guernsey you will find road junctions signposted as ‘filter in turn’, which means exactly what it says.  There is no need for expensive traffic lights if road users will extend the courtesy to each other of taking turns to cross a junction.

In Guernsey you will see boxes on roadside banks, containing garden produce and home-made products such as jam.  Beside these boxes there will be an ‘honesty box’, in which customers can deposit the price of the goods being sold.  This system of ‘hedge veg’ can only operate because of the basic integrity of the local population.

The respectful, ‘good neighbourly’ culture also means there is very little social division.  In Guernsey, you will not encounter the negative attitudes that some communities display towards newcomers.  On the contrary, the people of Guernsey are generally open and welcoming.  And because they are also generally well-travelled, they have a cosmopolitan outlook.

For this reason, some visitors describe Guernsey as being like England was in the past.  But Guernsey is not a backwater, it is a sophisticated offshore financial centre, operating at the cutting edge of the funds, captive insurance and fiduciary industries, to name but a few examples.  The basic integrity of the island forms part of the reason for Guernsey’s current success in financial services.

Other factors in that success are Guernsey’s convenient location (about an hour to London, and within sight of the Continent), its time zone (permitting business transactions with every part of the world during the working day), the English language and English commercial law.  The total absence of corruption is also an important factor. But more generally, Guernsey industries have a well-earned reputation for quality.

Finance is not the only driver in Guernsey’s economy, of course.  The island is home to many businesses successful in other fields.  In fact, the largest private sector employer on the island is not a bank; it’s Specsavers, the multinational optical group based on the island.  Guernsey also has massive digital bandwidth, and sits close to the spine of the internet, making it ideal for digital industries of all kinds.

Guernsey is committed to maintaining itself as low tax jurisdiction – there are no capital taxes in Guernsey, there is no inheritance tax, there is no general sales tax or VAT. And, importantly, there is a clear commitment not to bring in such taxes.  Guernsey does not levy a net wealth tax. Guernsey resident individuals pay income tax at a flat rate of 20% and a Guernsey resident individual can elect for a cap on their income tax liability.

Central to our economic strategy is a commitment to supporting Guernsey’s Open Market.  We recognise that Open Market residents can make a huge contribution to our economy and also to island life.  We want to ensure it is as straightforward as possible for new residents to move to Guernsey, and to start new businesses here.

One of the good things about being a small jurisdiction is that members of the public can contact all of the people they need to meet (in the same room at the same time if necessary), to solve their problems.  Guernsey is too small to be mediocre.’

 

You can contact Charles Parkinson – Minister for economic development via email: charles.parkinson@deputies.gov.gg


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