NEWS FROM THE CELTIC LEAGUE
I have written to Isle of Man Economic Affairs Minister, Laurence Skelly MHK, suggesting that there should be maximum public scrutiny of monies granted from the so called Economic Development Fund (EDF).
The EDF is a sum of money £50 million taken from our reserves to encourage businesses on the Island and inward investment.
Earlier this week we were forwarded a copy of an advert for a company that helps businesses set up on the Island which highlighted ‘the advantages; of the EDF, in other words the ‘business sharks are already circling’.
Celtic League opposed the use of hard pressed government reserves in this way when so many Island residents are suffering and spoke out against it. However the ‘nodding donkeys’ in Tynwald, for the most part, approved the scheme.
I have suggested to Minister Skelly that at the very least if the public are saddled with this fiscal burden there should be maximum transparency and an opportunity to speak out prior to grants being approved.
EDFs have a failure rate of anywhere from 20-30% so £15-£17 million of this money will be lost anyway. At the very least the public should have an opportunity to comment on those queuing up to take out cash before they walk of with it!
The text of the letter to the Minister is set out below:
“The Minister for Economic Development
Mr Laurence Skelly MHK
Department of Economic Development
St Georges Court
Upper Church Street
Isle of Man
27th November 2015
If there is one issue that is equally (if not more) controversial with the public than the government agreement with Manx Gas it is the recently approved Economic Development Fund (EDF) which effectively allows your Department to disburse up to £50 million to selected businesses.
In February of this year I wrote to the Chief Minister about fiscal transparency and in his absence a reply was received from Richard Ronan MHK (Agriculture Minister).
In his letter Minister Ronan said in relation to your Department:
“The Department of Economic Development publishes, by laying before Tynwald, a report each year which details of grants to businesses made under the Enterprise Act 2008. The report lists names of entities which have received money from the Department of Economic Development. This is a requirement of requirement of Section 6 of the Enterprise Act 2008 and is consistent with Government’s intent to act transparently by providing information as to the use of public funds for Tynwald scrutiny where possible. The Department of Economic Development states that legal advice has previously been taken as to the extent of information that can be disclosed and the contents of the report have been based on such advice.”
Earlier in the correspondence Mr. Ronan says:
“This Government is committed to the principle of transparency”.
I think it would be useful and in the interests ‘of transparency’ if any grants being made from the EDF were subject to public prior notification so that if members of the public have reservations/concerns about the plans or recipients these can be considered by the Department.
At a time when the Island is (according to the Treasury Minister) fiscally challenged in a number of areas the decision to make available a fund of this nature is questionable nonetheless the decision has been made.
Given such EDFs in other jurisdictions do have ‘a substantial percentage failure ratio’ I would have thought the maximum amount of public input and scrutiny would be prudent.
J B Moffatt (Mr)
Director of Information”
Related link query re Manx Government transparency:
Issued by: The Celtic News
THE CELTIC LEAGUE INFORMATION SERVICE
The Celtic League established in 1961 has branches in the six Celtic Countries. It promotes cooperation between the countries and campaigns on a range of political, cultural and environmental matters. It highlights human rights abuse, military activity and socio-economic issues