Sark survey shows widespread economic pessimism

Sark Chief Pleas Conseiller Robert Cottle said reviewing the structure of government was a high priority

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A lack of optimism for future economic growth was also evident, with 82.5% thinking trading conditions would be the same or worse next year.

The survey was sent to 120 firms and 64 replied, 84% of which were small businesses employing five or fewer.

The Finance and Commerce Committee said it would take the results on board.

Conseiller Robert Cottle said a forthcoming review of the structure of committees within Chief Pleas was a high priority and work would begin in the next few weeks, as soon as the island's new senior administrator was in place.

The survey showed 78.7% support for a single committee to take on overall responsibility for developing economic strategy.

'Bit of a bubble'

No individual committee currently has this on its mandate.

Chamber president Paul Armorgie said Sark had largely avoided the economic consequences of the global downturn until recently.

He said: "Sark has been in a bit of a bubble for the last five years, with some major investment in the island from a number of different investors.

"That investment has largely finished for the time being and consequently we've gone back to a seasonal business model.

"It's important to work with Chief Pleas to ensure we do everything that we can to focus on improving that situation."

The first of a series of economic development workshops - to which all islanders were invited - was held in the island earlier.

The series aims to help Sark learn lessons from other jurisdictions and includes talks by Guernsey's Commerce and Employment Minister Kevin Stewart and Roy Burke, the CEO of the States of Alderney.

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