The Isle of Man witnessed its fair share of intriguing events during 2016 but the Island must now look ahead and take advantage of what 2017 has to offer. In these, seemingly ever, challenging times, here are three things the Isle of Man Government must do in 2017...
Work closely with the private sector
Working with the private sector, generally a strength of the previous Government, is undoubtedly one of the most important things the Isle of Man Government needs to do next year – two areas immediately spring to my mind.
From a Financial Services point of view, the public register of beneficial owners has been motioned in the UK to enhance transparency of beneficial ownership information of foreign companies undertaking certain economic activities (in the UK). There has been talk that the Isle of Man should adopt this approach but whilst as an Island we may want to remain transparent and in line with (if not ahead of) International standards for money laundering and the financing of terrorism, for our clients, sharing their private information with the public appears a step beyond what should be information available only to the relevant authorities at the relevant time. Ignoring the issue of lack of privacy, a hot topic in itself with regards to Data Protection, private information being so ready available and in the public domain creates security risks. The Isle of Man Government need to think carefully about how they approach this.
From a more general point of view for the Island, the Isle of Man Government should think about freezing the work permit system for a short period of time. The Island is looking to grow the economy and fill job vacancies that simply cannot be filled because we are in a time when the number of jobs available is higher than the number of unemployed. As a director of a CSP firm, recruiting new staff is currently difficult – freezing the work permit for an interim period should make it easier for businesses to recruit the best people from outside of the Island.
Living up to “Isle of Man Where You Can”
Banking is becoming a subject that is discussed more frequently on an International scale, it is not a local problem, and therefore presents an opportunity. Our clients are finding it increasingly difficult to open bank accounts on the Isle of Man and have encountered various problems when dealing with banks.
The Department of Economic Development (“DED”) has already started addressing the banking issue by introducing the Alternative Banking Regime (“ABR”) to the Island. The ABR presents a great opportunity to attract the best new market entrants to the Isle of Man and to inject some new competition into the banking industry.
These steps should be applauded but the Government must continue to do more to enhance the Island’s reputation as an International Finance Centre, which is not restricted due to legislation.
Continue focussing on new industries and sectors
Finding “another e-gaming sector” to drive GDP would help the economy. It seems obvious, but the Island should continue to focus on developing new industries and sectors, such as crypto and crowd funding, both areas which have received attention in recent times. Exploring other jurisdictions would also benefit the Island but also maintaining the current relationships the Island already has with jurisdictions such as Asia and South Africa is important.
The Isle of Man Government should continue to pursue policies that will assist business on the Isle of Man. It will be important for the Island to act quickly and effectively to deal with the new challenges that are likely to appear as a result of matters outside our immediate control. But focussing on newer industries and sectors will hopefully contribute to the continuous growth the Island has enjoyed over the last 30 years.
Peregrine Corporate Services Limited is licensed by the Isle of Man Financial Services Authority.