Sark Newspaper 08 March 2019

11 whole saga has inflicted on Sark’s reputation as an independent jurisdiction capable of self-governance. Meanwhile, these are costs that the residents of Sark will have no choice but to cover, through their tax bill, through their electricity bill or both. The amount equals half of the Island’s entire budget for 2018. Where on earth will this money come from? Equally important how can it possibly result in cheaper electricity to the Sark consumer? Chamber of Commerce President Tony Le Lievre hit the nail on the head when telling ITV that “ no one is saying anything about much at all ”. Not even our Conseillers are kept informed, it would appear. Or, not all of them, that is. The Hansard for the Christmas meeting of Chief Pleas held on 19th Janu- ary 2019 is now published on the state website. http:// www.gov.sark.gg/downloads/agendas_and_minutes/2019_agendas- minutes/190116_hansard.pdf Under matters not related to the business of the day, Conseiller Sébastien Moerman, who resigned just during the meeting, stated that he had been “ approached by various residents expressing some concerns over the proposed ill-considered and finan- cially suicidal acquisition of Sark Electricity and its holding company ”. He then posed a series of ques- tions, amongst which were these: (1) May we know the name of the firm retained to value Sark Electricity and the basis of its selec- tion and suitability? (2) May we know the terms of engagement of this firm? (3) What is the legal advice regarding the owner- ship of a grid and how will the valuers be prised of this information? (4) Is any consideration taking place in respect of the future necessary decommissioning of a pow- er station with significant environmental reha- bilitation being required with its necessary costs in relation to the valuation currently underway? (5) Are there any implications regarding tax reve- nue relating to any potential acquisition? (6) Will you confirm to the residents of Sark that their opinions will be considered through an open and transparent consultation process be- fore any commitment to purchase is made? Is the Price Control Commissioner going to repeat the process of price determination and poten- tially a Price Control Order ...” It was William Raymond, the Conseiller who by all appearances is in charge of this debacle, who rose to answer these questions. Or rather not to answer them. He claimed not to know the costs because he had refused the lawyers’ quote and contracted them on an hourly basis instead, although he didn’t know - or wouldn’t divulge - their hourly rate. Whatever that cost is, and it will be substantial, it is once again the taxpaying and electricity-consuming public who will pay for it and not the politicians who incurred it. Again, where will all this money come from? Again, how does Chief Pleas plan to finance the pur- chase of SEL and the enormous associated costs? The only answer that makes any sense is that they do not intend to pay much for SEL at all and one suspects that was the plan all along. The past nine years of overt government hostility and the associat- ed regulation created, we were told, to protect us against this monopoly-operating ‘enemy’ of the peo- ple, has decimated the market value of SEL. Chief Pleas will most definitely be the only prospective buyer around. Wednesday’s Guernsey Press brought yet more cov- erage on this sorry saga, with David Gordon-Brown accusing Chief Pleas of ‘longing out’ any purchase until his family are desperate, not just to sell SEL and its assets but to sell it for “ peanuts ”. Of course they are. At long last, this man is waking up. As this publication has reported repeatedly, a state take-over of Sark’s electricity company cannot pos- sibly make the power production any cheaper. If it is sold cheaper to the public by the state, then it will be due to state subsidies which in turn will be fund- ed by tax hikes. The only thing that can make the unit price go down is increased consumption so that the fixed prices of producing electricity is divided amongst a higher number of consumers. Getting the economy going again, re-populating the Island, re-opening business- es that are closed due to lack of trade - that is the recipe for cheaper electricity. What’s currently be- ing followed by Chief Pleas is nothing but a recipe for disaster . Guernsey Press Tuesday 5th March 2019

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