Population law harming island business says CGi

GUERNSEY’S new population management law needs to be reviewed urgently because the current delays in processing applications prove it isn’t working efficiently, according to a leading island business organisation.

The Confederation of Guernsey Industry said it was disappointed – but not surprised – that the new system wasn’t working well and it was worse than what was previously in place.

‘What makes the CGi so concerned is that the Population Management Office approach is overly bureaucratic and applications are taking too long to process, making some virtually impossible to deal with,’ said chairman Clive McMinn.

‘The fact is that the introduction of this supposedly improved law is actively damaging island businesses and affecting productivity. The harm being caused has to be stopped before it becomes terminal for certain sectors.’

Welcoming Economic Development Committee president Peter Ferbrache’s similar criticism of a law that wasn’t working, Mr McMinn highlighted three principal defects that needed rectification:

• A lack of clarity and flexibility built into the online tick-box application process

• Procedural difficulties with the law, including the time taken to process applications and the associated high cost of making one

• Damage to local businesses by the creation of problems that did not exist before by restricting skilled and hard-to-replace staff to terms of just five years.

‘Ultimately, the worst damage is being caused by the removal of the previous “nine months on, three off” regime combined with the removal of the ability to use the Open Market, especially in the hospitality sector,’ said the CGi chairman.

‘We know from our membership, which covers a wide range of island businesses, what damage this is doing to the island economy,’ he said. ‘Politicians and civil servants need to move quickly to reduce red tape and confusion and simplify the whole process of work permits and housing permission.

‘Our deputies have to understand the priorities here, get a message out that Guernsey is open for business, and prove it is business friendly,’ said Mr McMinn.