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Economy & Business

SWOT2: The imperfections we face

A list of irritating weaknesses which Guernsey shoulders

Our would-be business or political consultant, requested to make a provocative list of Guernsey’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats, offers suggestions for the second component:


  • Tiny small-scale taker of exchange rates, interest rates.
  • Dependent on imported skills, raw materials and consumer and investment goods.
  • A ‘one-crop’ economy dependent on finance sector, with weak second leg (tourism) and no third. 
  • A high-cost, low productivity economy struggling to secure competitive advantage in narrow fields of activity.
  • Opaque lines of accountability within a ‘consensus’ government of individual unaligned deputies lacking knowledge of business and pre-occupied with parochial concerns. No collective responsibility.
  • Widespread weakness within civil service/parastatals, especially in cost control – notably in education and health. No sacking for incompetence.
  • Insufficient appreciation of the need for predictability and certainty in policy – tax, regulation and migration.
  • Expensive place to live – major concern for incomers.
  • Finance sector scandals weakly acknowledged.
  • Real incomes under pressure. Inequality growing.  Pockets of poverty deepening.  Squeezed middle evident.
  • Banking sector in decline.  Wider finance sector employment down, save in compliance.  Heavy dependence on lawyers and accountants.
  • Big struggle to compete with Jersey, on several fronts.
  • House prices under pressure – including in Open Market through missteps in policy. 
  • Commercial property showing large voids.  Over-dependence on construction industry.
  • Restrictive population controls. Access to unskilled labour recently but temporarily undermined by changes in housing licence arrangements. Strains emerging in specialist recruitment.
  • Dependent on ability to welcome and absorb outsiders – who can nevertheless find it hard to settle.
  • Small society = multiple conflicts of interest permitted.
  • Serious infrastructural shortfalls – air/sea connections, sewage, roads, public transport. Loss of Heathrow and London City flight connections a negative.
  • Narrow tax base (if India can introduce a GST..). Worrying temptation growing to increase existing taxes.
  • Poor planning and infrastructural policy architecture.
  • Lack of nimbleness, especially regarding new legislation.
  • Sub-standard quality statistical data, slowly generated, poorly used.
  • Array of mini-cartels among key industries, professions and skilled workforce suggesting wide market failure.
  • Slow decision-making, without big picture thinking.
  • Dependence on Crown law officers and UK Privy Council for enactment of legislation
  • Gap between those ‘in the know’ and broader electorate has grown too large.  Rising use of social media is fostering distrust of government, even as voter apathy increases.
  • Weak external representation, marketing and PR.
  • Isolated island with unreliable weather (especially fog) disrupting external connections.


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