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Three Things the Isle of Man Government must consider in 2018….as seen in Portfolio

Stuart Foster

The last few years have been extremely interesting for the Isle of Man’s latest Government, and there are a number of changes coming into effect this year that will ensure the challenges keep coming during 2018. The Island’s Government needs to look ahead at this New Year positively to build on what it has done well over the last few years whilst always looking to improve and evolve.

Retaining the Zero-10 tax system

There has been pressure on the Island to reform its tax policies which could potentially bring an end to the flagship “Zero-10” corporate tax structure. Recent communications from the EU expressed “concern” over this type of structure, which is also in operation in very similar forms in both Jersey and Guernsey. Any attempt from the EU to force the Isle of Man to abolish the Zero-10 tax structure, must be resisted strongly by the Island’s Government as the result of such a change could be disastrous for the TCSP industry which relies heavily on tax neutrality in attracting business to the Isle of Man.

The impact of problems in the TCSP industry would be felt widely across the Isle of Man as the businesses of support services provided by lawyers, accountants, bankers, investment managers and others would all suffer from the knock-on effects.

If the EU continues to push this agenda, perhaps the much-maligned Brexit process might present an opportunity for the Isle of Man and other Crown Dependencies to resist more strongly than they have previously.

Differentiate the Isle of Man & attract new residents

I believe that if we are going to grow as an Island, we need to attract new people and new businesses to the Isle of Man and to do that, we need to promote the things we have that are unique. I will be watching very closely the Government’s efforts in 2018 to promote “Our Island” and I hope the program is successful in promoting all that is great about the Isle of Man to the rest of the world.

When we have “sold” people on how great it is to live in the Isle of Man, they need to be supported to move here. I feel strongly that the Government needs to re-evaluate the work permit system and the effect that such protectionist measures have on our economy, society and culture.

As somebody who moved to the Isle of Man for work many years ago, I feel extremely lucky to live in such a wonderful place. At a time when there are historically low levels of unemployment on the Isle of Man, my business has been eager to offer opportunities to others to make the move to the Isle of Man. However, the process of obtaining new work permits remains slow and overly-complicated, even when there is an undisputed shortage of skilled candidates. Something needs to be done to speed up the work permit process to give employers confidence they can recruit the best person for the job.

Strongly defend themselves and the Island

The Government need to continue to defend themselves and the Island from external attacks, such as the recent coverage of the ‘Paradise Papers’. It was widely acknowledged that the information publicised by the media had very little substance. In such circumstances, the Government should be more forceful in standing up to the media and answering back to unwarranted criticism.

The Island has worked hard to become transparent and was recently endorsed by the OECD when the Isle of Man was one of only six countries to be awarded the top compliant rating during the second round of reviews and is currently one of only three to have been rated compliant in the first and second rounds of reviews. We need to be proud of such achievements and our Government should take confidence from this to respond forcefully and publicly in the event of a similar situation in the future. 

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