The role of Government is to create the right environment to allow businesses to grow, and to promote private enterprise – not just regulate it.
Government needs to continue to work with the private sector to maintain confidence and investment, despite the restraint on our finances.
Government doesn’t drive economic growth – it’s the hard work of private businesses and innovative entrepreneurs that create jobs and bring money to our Island. What Government can do is create the right environment to encourage and support these efforts.
With Brexit on the horizon there are real opportunities out there for the Island and we need to ensure that we are positioned as a jurisdiction that is ready to take up the challenges and is one step ahead of our competitors.
This means we need the right level of regulation, and it needs to be meaningful, and so where regulations or regulators are unnecessarily impeding business Government needs to step in and review the situation.
It also means that, although we all know that finances are tight, Government cannot stop investing in new business. It’s important to continue to support growth and maintain confidence.
Part of this investment has to be in our national infrastructure, our housing sector and our key utilities. Well maintained roads, available, affordable housing and reasonably priced and reliable utilities are essential to long term growth.
Lastly, our local economies are important, it’s only by having thriving towns and villages that the whole Island economy can continue to grow. This is why it’s essential for Government to encourage businesses to set up outside of Douglas, for too long the focus has been on our Capital and towns like Ramsey have been left behind.
So what does this mean in real terms?
- We need to ensure businesses can more easily access banking by cutting through the red tape. We all want to ensure the Island has strong banking regulation but it needs to be pragmatic. If the Island is moving into new specialist markets our banking needs to keep up.
- Improve regulation of our key utility companies – for example the agreement between the Office of Fair Trading and Manx Gas is not fit for purpose. The Office of Fair Trading needs to be revamped to give it the powers it needs to properly protect consumers.
- Reintroduce the full National Insurance Holiday scheme. The original scheme was a great success, creating 1,685 jobs over three years
- Increase investment in public sector housing – now that rents have increased to more sustainable levels these funds need to be reinvested back into our housing stock.
- Review the first time buyers scheme to make sure it works – we all know people who can’t get on the housing ladder, lets help them by making this scheme work like it’s supposed to.
- Include incentives within the new £50 million Economic Development Fund for companies to set up outside of Douglas.
- An early renegotiation of the Sea Services Agreement – our transport links are our lifeline and we need to secure their long term future
- Support and continue with the successful financial assistance schemes that are currently in place
- Promote high quality local produce to raise awareness both locally and further afield
- Make sure the Island is properly represented in all Brexit negotiations to protect our interests