Policy and Reform Minister Chris Robertshaw MHK told Isle of Man Chamber of Commerce members that the challenge for Government is not about preparing for the next General Election, but to provide a secure future for the Island’s next generation. Mr Robertshaw, who was speaking at the Chamber’s AGM luncheon, said that the Island was facing ‘huge challenges’ to its long-term sustainability. “The income we enjoy as a competitive tax jurisdiction is not in sync with our expectations,” he said. “Quite rightly, we have expectations – despite our current difficulties – of good health service, good education and good social welfare. But we also know that we have to remain a competitive jurisdiction for tax purposes.”
He said that great strides were already being made to improve efficiency and reduce red tape – but there are still massive challenges ahead to reduce the size and cost of Government, increase its efficiency further, make it more responsive to the individual, and modernise the welfare state. The Isle of Man is not alone in needing to achieve these goals, he added – and while it may appear to be a daunting task, the Isle of Man also has an opportunity to pioneer innovative policies which other jurisdictions may one day follow. The Minister then recounted a recent discussion he had with Jonathan Cruddas MP, the UK Labour Party’s Policy Review Co-ordinator, who indicated, in facing up to its challenges as a large nation state, that there was a growing understanding that smaller jurisdictions and local authorities which are required to balance their books annually against the backdrop of ever more restricted budgets, are coming up with some innovative and exciting ideas and that these developments are being monitored with considerable interest.
The Minister went on to say that the Island’s small population and geographical size created opportunities to implement innovative ways to tackle social and economic problems. “Yes, there are massive problems and challenges ahead,” he added, “but there are also massive opportunities for us to do something really special in the Isle of Man.”
Jane Dellar, Chief Executive of the Isle of Man Chamber of Commerce, thanked the Minister for attending the AGM luncheon and sharing his insights with members. She welcomed his comments on the need for Government to reduce bureaucracy and improve efficiency, and added: “Sometimes in the private sector we like to see things happening a bit quicker, however none of us can fail to be inspired and reassured that this work is well under way, and in very capable hands.”
Before the Minister’s speech, Chamber President Michael Crowe gave a summary of developments in the organisation over the past year, and welcomed Miles Benham and John Watt to the Chamber council. Both were appointed at the AGM which was held at The Claremont Hotel in Douglas on June 25. For more information about Isle of Man Chamber of Commerce go to www.iomchamber.org.im or call 674941. The Chamber’s office at Athol House, Athol Street, Douglas, is open 9am to 2.30pm Monday to Friday.