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Monday, January 30, 2012
Manx State of the Nation
Chief Minister Allan Bell's comments came during his address at the ‘Manx State of the Nation’ conference on Friday, which was organised by the Alliance of Isle of Man Compliance Professionals.
He warned against dwelling on the achievements seen in the past, but told his audience to focus on new ways to protect the island’s future.
‘As the storm clouds continue to gather around us in Europe and beyond, it is vital that we develop new strategies to protect our future and do not dwell on past success.
‘If we lose focus on the needs of the economy in the time ahead, either through complacency or through the distraction of our fiscal challenges, then we risk endangering our impressive achievements of the last 25 years,’ he said.
The audience heard that the island had solid foundations to build upon, with no external borrowing, an unemployment rate below 2.5 per cent, strong reserves, and continued economic growth despite ongoing turbulence in international markets.
Mr Bell said the performance of the island’s economy was in no small measure down to the confidence and enterprise of its private sector.
He told local business leaders at the address: ‘I would like to offer my personal, and sincere, gratitude for your hard work, support and partnership as it plays such a crucial part in terms of our continued progress as a world-class international business centre.
‘My ministerial colleagues and I recognise that your outstanding contribution has enabled the Isle of Man to cement its place as a well-regulated and responsible nation, with a high quality corporate offering.’
He said: ‘Our regulatory systems, while observing the continuing need to adhere to international best practice, must also be designed to encourage new commercial opportunities, especially in the face of ever growing competition.
‘The emergence of a more independent Scotland on our doorstep is a good example and one we must watch very carefully.’
The conference heard that next month’s Budget would highlight the challenging targets that had to be met in order to protect the Isle of Man’s core services and maintain a vibrant economy.
Mr Bell said: ‘There is one vital message that must never be forgotten. Without a strong and sustainable economy, delivering a strong and sustainable fiscal base, the political independence of the Isle of Man will always be vulnerable to external pressure.’
As a Manxman, Mr Bell added he was proud of what the people of the island had achieved over the last 25 years.
‘We have fought long and hard to rebuild our economy and our public finances, and to defend and grow our political independence.
‘I can promise you today that as long as I remain Chief Minister I will do everything in my power to protect those achievements and your futures,’ he added.