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14 December 2023

IOM’s leading business network backs move by Enterprise Minister to cut ‘red tape’

The Isle of Man Chamber of Commerce is backing a move by the Enterprise Minister, Tim Johnston MHK, to temporarily suspend the need for work permits.

Chamber says feedback from its members and the wider business community clearly indicates a strong consensus in favour of relaxing the rules in order to help address the labour shortage affecting most sectors of the economy. The Enterprise Minister’s proposal follows a public consultation earlier this year and seeks to make it easier for employers to recruit employees from off-Island, especially those with essential skills or experience.

In a radio interview this week [w/c October 2nd] the Enterprise Minister said: “At a time when 99.9% of work permits are actually passed, it is just seen by business – in the present climate – as red tape and an unnecessary bureaucracy.”

Chamber CEO, Rebecca George, commented: “This view is shared by a majority of our members and the wider business community. Concern about work permits is an issue with a long history as one of several significant, longstanding, barriers to economic growth – so it should have been addressed several years ago. In this context Chamber sees this reform as one that’s long overdue, so we urge MHKs to support the work permits proposal. However, it’s important to note that this is just one example of unnecessary red tape and bureaucracy which need to be addressed in order to help employers recruit the employees they need to grow their businesses. It’s also one of several barriers to business growth which Chamber has been calling on the current Government to tackle for several years – so it’s important to remember the urgent need to address these issues too.”

Reducing red tape was one of the points raised in Chamber’s ‘Business Manifesto’ which was announced in the run-up to the 2021 IOM General Election. In recent months the Island’s biggest business network has called for urgent Government action to restore business community confidence and support economic growth. This followed a Chamber survey published in June in which businesses gave a massive vote of no confidence in the Government’s handling of the economy. 93.55% of respondents said they did not believe that the Economic Strategy would be completed as promised. In the same poll 83.61% said red tape was preventing them from investing and hindering growth.

The Enterprise Minister’s proposal to change the work permits system is scheduled to be put before Tynwald in the next sitting (October 17th to 19th).

In addition to relaxing work permit rules, Chamber has been calling for several years for reforms to the structure of Government, plus a raft of measures to encourage inward investment to the Island, and to increase the Island’s economically active population.