Jersey’s economy has nearly returned to pre-pandemic levels, report shows
Jersey’s economy has almost bounced back to pre-pandemic levels, according to recent statistics. But the report from Statistics Jersey highlights that the Island’s long-term decline in productivity continues.
Gross Domestic Product (GDP) increased by nearly 11% last year, almost as high as in 2019 before the slowdown in the economy due to Covid-19. Meanwhile, overall productivity remained over 2% lower than before the pandemic, according to the report, which adds:
“The long-term decline in productivity has occurred particularly since 2007. Between 2007 and 2021 the productivity of the Island’s economy fell by over a fifth (22%) in real terms.”
Responding to the report, Economic Development Minister Kirsten Morel said: “Jersey’s economy has bounced back very strongly, ahead of most other economies around the world. It shows the resilience of our economy. That an economy with a population of only 100,000 people can withstand a shock like the pandemic is something we should all be very proud of.”
’Deputy Morel said he thought the slow decline in productivity in Jersey could be traced back to the last financial crash between 2008 and 2010 when interest rates dropped to almost zero. The effect on the largest part of Jersey’s economy – the financial-services sector – was huge, he said.
He added that if the Island’s economy relied more heavily on tourism, like Majorca for example, ‘it would not have bounced back so quickly’.
Deputy Morel said working harder was not the answer to reversing the productivity decline, adding that people in all sectors of the economy were already doing that and agriculture in particular was ‘doing an incredible job’.
“I want to see all sectors of the economy working smarter now. It’s not about working harder but working more smartly, using technology to reduce our production costs to improve productivity in future,” he added.
Ten million attacks per month lead to cyber investment
Jersey’s digital defences are due to be bolstered in response to a growing cyber security threat, with the Channel Islands facing around ten million cyber-attacks a month.
Deputy Chief Minister Kirsten Morel and Assistant Chief Minister Alex Curtis outlined the government’s intention to invest in cyber security to help combat attacks at this week’s Channel Islands Cyber Security Conference.
At the event – one of a series of initiatives to mark Cyber Security Awareness Month – Deputy Morel said that the threat posed by digital attacks had become ‘more elaborate’ and ‘expanded significantly in scope and seriousness’ since 2019 when the government’s Cyber Emergency Response Team was founded.
He noted that, in the same period of time, there had been a significant increase in remote working.
According to figures shown at the conference, the Channel Islands were subjected to around ten million cyber-attacks a month. CERT director Matt Palmer also said that, in June, between five and 13 computers in Jersey were hijacked and used to carry out digital attacks in the United States, Germany and Hungary.
Deputy Morel said: “Cyber security is vital to protect not only our personal data, our economic interests and public services but our physical security too.”
“This subject can often seem abstract or remote from the public’s consciousness but the reality is that cyber-attacks rank among the top risks for governments, businesses and individuals across the world today.”
Deputy Curtis said: “For the reasons that we’ve heard about from the Deputy Chief Minister and other speakers, the government will be investing new resources into our cyber security. Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, we have stood up a Strategic Co-ordination Group and Cyber Technical Advice Cell to monitor Jersey’s cyber resilience”.
He added that the proposed Government Plan, lodged earlier this week, included investment in CERT to help build resilience in ‘high risk’ areas of the economy.
“But this is a challenge which cannot be solved by government spending alone. We need organisations across our Island to take their cyber security seriously,” he said.
Mr Palmer added: “Jersey has a clear strategy for improving its cyber security and strong support from the government, but this is only part of the challenge.”
“It is essential that everyone follows good practice guidance issued by CERT to secure their personal accounts and workplaces. Reaching a consistent baseline of cyber security across all sectors of the economy is essential to defending against the advanced threats we have heard about today.’”
There’s a real appetite to be more energy-independent
As the project to construct a brand-new wind farm off the Brittany coast, little more than 20 miles from Jersey, moves into its final year, the head of Jersey Electricity has re-emphasised his desire for the Island to explore ‘with vigour’ the opportunity for a similar scheme.
With the St Brieuc project due to be generating electricity for the French grid by the end of 2023, chief executive Chris Ambler said Jersey Electricity wanted to pursue ‘a significant opportunity’ within the Island’s territorial waters.
The utility company is looking to work with new Environment Minister Jonathan Renouf and his ministerial colleagues towards establishing the scope for a project which he hoped could be taken forward within the next decade and become a generator of income for the Island.
He said: ‘We’ve been looking at this for a number of years, but there’s a significant opportunity with the new government, and it’s been encouraging to see the levels of focus brought to this, not just by the Environment Minister, but more broadly across the Council of Ministers.’
Mr Ambler said the St Brieuc project showed that the cost of technology was coming down, while at the same time there was ‘upward pressure’ resulting from the global rise in energy prices.
“There’s a real appetite to become more energy-independent, driven by what’s happened across Europe and the war in Ukraine,” he said.
“We believe that offshore wind is by far the most significant opportunity for energy diversification for Jersey over the medium-term, by which I mean the next eight to ten years. We think we should be pursuing this with vigour, and it’s important that we are in a position to establish the economic viability of such a scheme”.
Although the overall cost of the project in the Bay of St Brieuc, which includes 62 wind turbines and an offshore substation and will generate 500 megawatts of electricity, is estimated at 2.4 billion euros, Mr Ambler stressed that this level of the cost would not need to be borne by taxpayers.
He said: “There are a number of prospective developers out there, as well as capital providers – we need to establish the economic viability of a scheme and present ourselves as a Jersey team that’s capable of being invested in.”
Mr Ambler said that a project on the same scale as that being developed by Ailes Marines off St Brieuc could potentially generate three to four times as much electricity as Jersey would require for its own use, offering the chance to export electricity to neighbouring jurisdictions.
“France is very focused on growing the renewable energy sector, and we [Jersey] have got good commercial and political relationships with France, in spite of the issues around fishing,” he said.
Emmanuel Rollin, vice president of Ailes Marines, confirmed that his company would be interested in exploring a potential opportunity in Jersey. Shortly after his election as Environment Minister in July, Deputy Renouf said that looking at sources of offshore renewable energy was a key priority.
He said: “As Environment Minister, I’m very keen that we explore the exciting potential for green energy in our waters. There is a significant opportunity for the Island to become a producer of clean electricity, particularly through wind turbines, but also in the longer term through tidal and/or wave energy. These projects may also offer the chance to collaborate with our neighbours in the other Channel Islands and in France.”
The former head of Jersey Met, John Searson, has also recently added his support to calls for the Island to set up a wind farm.
The Bridging Island Plan makes reference to an Offshore Wind Pre-Feasibility Study, which concluded that Jersey had ‘significant offshore wind potential’ and that extracting energy from 5% of the Island’s waters ‘would satisfy over three times Jersey’s current annual demand’.
Liz Truss Conference speech
Liz Truss has promised Britons she has “got your back” and set out a plan for “growth, growth and growth” in a conference speech disrupted by protesters, asking who voted for her plan.
After a fractious party conference and dire opinion polls for the Tories, the prime minister attempted to speak directly to the public, saying: “I want what you want.”
She made the case for cutting taxes as “the right thing to do morally and economically”, despite having just U-turned over her decision to abolish the 45p top rate of income tax.
On the decision to withdraw the policy, she said: “I get it and I have listened. ”However, a few minutes in, her speech was disrupted by protesters waving a Greenpeace banner, which said: “Who voted for this?”
As they were escorted from the hall to boos from the audience, Truss said: “Let’s get them removed,” and joked: “Later on in my speech, I’m going to talk about the anti-growth coalition. I think they arrived in the hall a bit too early”.
Truss made her dash for economic growth the centrepiece of her speech in Birmingham, saying not everyone would like her disruptive plan to change Britain but claiming that the UK would benefit from the results.
“The scale of the challenge is immense. War in Europe for the first time in a generation. A more uncertain world in the aftermath of Covid. And a global economic crisis,” she said.
“That is why in Britain we need to do things differently. Whenever there is change, there is disruption. Not everyone will be in favour. But everyone will benefit from the result – a growing economy and a better future. That is what we have a clear plan to deliver.”
However, the pound fell against the US dollar after the speech. Sterling had initially hit a three-week high against the dollar in early session trading, but soon slipped back amid fears over the government’s credibility and fell a further 1%, to $1.136 at the end of the speech.
Truss has repeatedly refused to say whether she will raise benefits in line with inflation, triggering a cabinet split as the leader of the Commons, Penny Mordaunt, and the Welsh secretary, Robert Buckland, suggested this should happen.
But in her speech, Truss said she would exert an “iron discipline” over public spending, hinting at possible austerity to come. “I believe in sound money and a lean state,” she said. Most of Truss’s speech concentrated on her zeal for change, and love of business and deregulation. She said all EU regulations would be consigned to history by the end of the year.
Islanders encouraged to get vaccinated against early rise in seasonal flu
Islanders are being encouraged to get their annual flu vaccination and Covid-19 autumn booster in response to the early arrival of seasonal influenza. Flu is already at higher levels this year than previously and is rising, coinciding with an increase in Covid-19 infections and an expected further wave this winter.
Islanders eligible for the Covid-19 autumn booster can save time and receive their annual flu vaccinations at the same time at Fort Regent. Annual flu vaccinations are also available to Islanders at their GP or local pharmacy.
The annual flu programme for school children has also already begun.
Islanders can find out more information on the flu programme at gov.je/flu.
Anyone who hasn’t yet had their first, second, or third Covid-19 vaccine can book an appointment at the vaccine centre. They can be booked on gov.je/vaccine or by calling the coronavirus helpline on 0800 735 5566.
The FTSE 100 is up 0.21% while European markets are mixed today. The CAC 40 gains 0.13% and the DAX is off 0.03%.
Dow Jones futures rose 0.1% vs. fair value. S&P 500 futures dipped 0.1% and Nasdaq 100 futures fell 0.4%.
Asian markets finished broadly lower today with shares in Hong Kong leading the region. The Hang Seng is down 1.51% while Japan’s Nikkei 225 is off 0.71% and China’s Shanghai Composite is lower by 0.55%.