Since my last Ministerial update in September I’m pleased to report significant progress in all the areas of my political responsibilities. There has been continued growth in jobs and financial services, good progress on a digital strategy, we have welcomed the new Chief Executive Tony Moretta to Digital Jersey and published an Action Plan to implement the recommendations of Tera Allas’ Innovation Review.
The review of competition and regulation by the economics consultancy Oxera has been well received. The review considered the context within which the Jersey Competition and Regulatory Authority (JCRA) operates, and focussed on securing better outcomes for local consumers and the Jersey economy.
Professor Sir John Vickers, who advised Oxera, said that it is just as important for markets in a small island economy to work well as it is for markets in larger economies. He added that, to achieve this, we should recognise that competition policy is not just the task of the competition authority but also of Government. He observed that while it is hard to conduct competition and regulatory policy well, and that there are particular challenges in a small jurisdiction, the economic benefits can be substantial.
The report identifies that, while there are benefits in maintaining the current competition framework, there is a perception that the JCRA is not as effective as it should be. Themes emerging from stakeholders included the need for better communication from the JCRA, better coordination on policy between the States and the JCRA, and a pragmatic approach to competition and regulatory activity. The report sets out 23 recommendations that require either changes in legislation, implementation by the JCRA or involvement from the Government.
Having been delegated the ministerial portfolio for competition by the Chief Minister, I am determined to ensure that our laws, policies and arrangements are the best they can be and that the JCRA is in the best position to perform its important role. This will allow our markets to continue to work in the interests of consumers and the Island as a whole. Effective competition and regulatory policy, combined with low barriers to entry and greater innovation, are critical in supporting jobs and growth and in keeping inflation low.
Officials will work with the JCRA to publish an action plan for each of Oxera’s 23 recommendations by the end of January 2016, detailing how each of the recommendations will be addressed.
When the Jersey Innovation Review was published I said that the report would not be one of those that gathers dust. The first task was to meet Tera’s recommendation to develop an action plan by the end of the year. I am delighted that the proposed action plan was published on 20 November.
The plan is the result of cooperation between more than ten partners and it’s been encouraging to see an effective partnership approach between government, agencies and the private sector. Comments on the action plan are welcome and should be sent to email@example.com. The final plan will take on board any feedback received and its progress will be trackable online.
Commonwealth Heads of Government
I was proud to represent Jersey last week at a number of events surrounding the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Malta, a biennial summit attended by the heads of government from the UK and other Commonwealth countries. Competition, innovation, financial services and the digital economy were among the key areas discussed during the event’s three-day Business Forum, attended by more than a thousand business delegates.
It is pleasing to see significant progress in all areas of my brief, however there is always more than can be done. Building on our strong public finances and resurgent business services sector, I remain focused on delivering results. This work will create more jobs and a more competitive and productive economy. It will reduce costs and develop a society which is digitally enabled for the future. I believe our wonderful Island can look forward to a future which is as positive as the past.