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Government's end of term report shows "significant progress" 5 October 2006

THE Isle of Man has made ‘real and significant progress’ over the past five years in developing its public services, economy and international reputation.

That’s the verdict of Chief Minister Donald Gelling MLC writing in the final Annual Report of the present Government. The comprehensive report summarises key features of the past five years which include:

• The Island’s economy has grown by more than 25 per cent, taking national income per head to 110 per cent of the UK figure and 121 per cent of the EU equivalent.
• The opening of improved public facilities including the new Nobles Hospital, Villa Marina, the Energy-from-Waste plant, new and extended schools, and new and upgraded doctors’ surgeries.
• The completion of more than 430 new public sector homes and over 300 approved first-time buyer units. Some 400 first-time buyers have had government grant assistance to acquire their first homes.
• Real annual increases – above the inflation rate – in funding for key public services such as health and education.
• The introduction of a minimum wage regime which compares favourably with other parts of the British Isles and Europe.
• Delivery of a standard zero rate of income tax for companies, protecting and enhancing the international competitiveness of the Island’s economy.
• A ‘clean bill of health’ from the International Monetary Fund for the financial services sector, and triple-A international credit rating endorsement for the Island’s general financial and economic position.

Commenting on capital spending projects, the Chief Minister observes:

‘Although we residents may sometimes take them for granted, visitors to the Island are often impressed by the extent and quality of such improvements in a small community. Contrary to popular perception, all but a fraction of the capital spending programme is delivered within the budget voted by Tynwald.’

Looking ahead, Mr Gelling writes:

‘The Isle of Man has robust economic and taxation strategies in place to meet the demands of an increasingly competitive global marketplace. The new branding concept ‘Freedom to Flourish’ should certainly help to raise awareness of the Island’s distinct advantages.
‘As I have learned over many years in Government, there will always be challenges on the international front - but there will always be opportunities too.
‘Within the Island there is an increasing awareness that the public purse is not a bottomless pit, which means making the best possible use of the finite resources available. That can involve taking difficult decisions on a national and long-term basis, and rising above purely local and short-term pressures.’

The Chief Minister concludes:

‘Above all, we should maintain a sense of realism – avoiding both bland complacency and negative nit-picking. Given a clear recognition of the challenges to be faced, and our strength as a community to meet those challenges, I have every confidence that the people of the Isle of Man will continue to succeed and enjoy the benefits of a high quality of life and the Island’s unique cultural heritage.’

A copy of the Annual Report 2006 can be found on the Isle of Man Government website at: www.gov.im/cso

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