Falklands : The Hon Mrs Jan Cheek MLA Speaks to the Finance Bill 2012/12
Submitted by Falkland Islands News Network (Juanita Brock) 02.06.2012 (Article Archived on 16.06.2012)
Mr Speaker, Honourable members, as the Honourable Roger Edwards has pointed out, we did a lot of work on this.
The Finance Bill 2012 (The Final Stages) Report of the Select Committee:
MLAs spoke to the Motion to accept the report.
The Hon Mrs Jan Cheek MLA
Mr Speaker, Honourable members, as the Honourable Roger Edwards has pointed out, we did a lot of work on this. Unfortunately I am still unconvinced that raising the tax threshold helps those in greatest need because they actually barely reach the existing threshold if they reach it at all. And this includes people on Government salaries at the bottom of “I” Grade, who would not at present rates reach that threshold.
However, those a bit higher up the earnings ladder will certainly benefit and I am sure will be pleased to hear about that. But we are planning to look urgently at help directed towards those most in need as was my preferred option because while rent rebates are available for those in Government Housing, whether or not they work for Government, there are many other areas where people struggle to meet costs, for example, childcare and fuel.
We had some queries about the three years’ operating reserve as part of our reserves. I actually favour that because it gives us more back-up in a prolonged financial crisis such as the world is seeing now. But what mustn’t be forgotten is that we also receive valuable income from our reserves and when you cut those reserves the income reduces proportionately.
We always welcome constructive comments and take it into account in our discussion. However, we are the ones who have the job of prioritising the expenditure in order to meet increasing expectations in many areas.
Almost every individual has a particular piece of road they would like to see built or improved. Again we have to prioritise and not just bow to pressure from individuals. As mentioned by someone else on Wednesday, the power Plant is due for replacement. We have to bear in mind that a working group is looking into the needs for additional education buildings to cope with increased numbers in special needs requirements which are increasing on quite an alarming scale.
As an Assembly we are committed to increasing the social housing pool and making plots available for those who wish to invest in a mortgage instead of paying rent. In addition, as has been said, we are voting significant sums to support the Economic Development Strategy, Tourism and Rural Development Strategies – all designed to ensure a stronger, broader economy in the longer term.
We have this time topped up the FIG Old Scheme Pensions Fund to ensure that all those who retired under that scheme, including those who opted to stay on it at the time of the Hay Review get the pensions that they earned – that they worked for. And as also been said, we await the Actuarial Review on the Retirement Pension Scheme.
It’s very important, I think, for everyone that those schemes be properly funded.
I support the Motion.
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