Government responds to Chamber of Commerce inflation concerns
Business leaders and government ministers met this week to discuss their concerns about the economy.
As the Isle of Man Examiner reported this week, the Chamber of Commerce said rising fuel, freight and other costs had created a ‘perfect storm’ which means that businesses are now under more financial pressure than at any other time during the pandemic.
The Chamber of Commerce has conducted an investigation into the rising costs of doing business on the island.
A total of 157 local businesses participated, 35% of which said they saw significant reductions in revenue compared to 2019.
Soaring fuel prices are the most important factor, according to the survey, with 80% citing as having the biggest impact, followed by the cost of freight, raw materials and wages.
Yesterday (Thursday), the government said it was ‘reaffirming its commitment to supporting businesses and aiming for long-term economic stability’.
Enterprise Minister Alex Allinson described the meeting as productive.
He said a range of issues had been raised by members of the Chamber of Commerce about doing business on the Isle of Man.
“Work to this effect is already underway on a number of fronts discussed, including the recent introduction of the seasonal worker visa pathway and the resettlement incentive for tourism and hospitality workers to address skills shortages in this sector,” he said.
“It is clear that we are facing a new period of uncertainty.
“As the world recovers from the Covid-19 pandemic, conflict in Europe continues and a significant inflation cycle is testing our cost of living. We are committed to stepping up our efforts to address these challenges where we can and build consumer confidence.
He said he was grateful to the Chamber of Commerce for communicating its members’ concerns and said the government would continue to work closely with them, the local business community and other “key stakeholders.” to consider “targeted, evidence-based support where appropriate, which aims for the long-term economic sustainability and stability of our island.”
Treasury Minister David Ashfrod said: ‘International developments have caused turmoil in the global business economy, and the Treasury is working within government to consider the implications this will have on residents of the island of Man and to understand whether there will be a need for measures to be put in place in the short and medium term to support people in difficulty.
“In any case, we must remain realistic and cautious, and it is of the utmost importance that any government intervention does not distort competition or create market inefficiencies.
“We also need to be affordable and sustainable in the long term and I will be presenting a statement at the April Tynwald on the overall position and our responses.”
The Chamber represents companies that employ 20,000 people or half of the island’s private sector workforce.
In the Examiner this week, Chamber Chief Executive Rebecca George said: “Businesses, especially small businesses that are at the heart of our community, need the government’s help to weather this storm.
“Our research has shown that businesses are crumbling under a rising cost tide, with the latest survey results revealing that many are now also under extreme pressure from soaring energy and freight costs, as well than the increase in wages.
“The majority need to raise prices, and many are also considering cutting services to cut costs or considering layoffs.
“All of this has a domino effect on other companies in the supply chain and on the economy. It is also important to consider the human cost in terms of health and well-being.
“Customers, suppliers and anyone who depends on businesses that play such an important role in the local community are also affected – so this is not just a business issue.”
The Chamber’s wishlist included targeted support for the food supply chain, hospitality and small retail businesses to address labor shortages by calling for the introduction from a 12-month work visa and programs to encourage economically active people to work, the abolition of the tax on second jobs, the introduction of a subsidy for transport costs for retail businesses and Hospitality, and the extension of the 12.5% VAT rate for hospitality.