The strength of the Island’s eGaming sector has been graphically illustrated in the recent Isle of Man government figures, which show economic growth of over 5 percent and egaming
accounting for 19 percent of the Island’s income.
But they also illustrate what former Chief Minister, Allan Bell described as the Island’s increasingly two-speed economy. Agriculture and manufacturing have fallen sharply and the government’s diversity policy looks increasingly fragile as more eggs are lodged neatly into the basket of eGaming.
With several areas of the economy stagnating the new House of Keys has some massive challenges ahead. One of them – which has seemingly gone under the radar in recent times – is the significant decline in Isle of Man house prices.
It doesn’t take a genius to see they have been falling steadily for some time. Estate Agents would argue that many vendors are still seeking unrealistic figures for their properties, but behind all
the hyperbole the simple truth is that the average house in the Isle of Man is currently worth around 20 percent less than it was in 2011. Such a decline in the UK would be considered catastrophic.
New Chief Minister, Howard Quayle has a monumental task ahead as he leads his rooky administration into the great unknown. Not since Frodo Baggins entered the Land of Mordor, have
the portents of doom been so ominous. His government must continue its battle to balance the books in the wake of the VAT ‘re-adjustment’ of 2011; it must also have to be nimble on its feet to
deal with the BREXIT fall-out, (he’s already been to Brussels for talks which is a good start), and then there’s the little matter of pensions and an ageing population.
Mr Quayle knows that only continued strong economic growth can keep the economy on track, but that’s far from cut and dried. Whilst egaming has been a star performer it masks serious issues elsewhere.
Tourism showed signs of life in 2015/16 but even here, much needs to be done if we are to seriously grow market share outside special events such as the TT and Festival of Motorcycling. Let’s face it, we can’t even make a decision on re-surfacing the promenade.
Meanwhile a positive for the new administration can be taken from the latest unemployment figures, which show the jobless total to have fallen for eight consecutive months to stand at just 1.3 percent in September.
The bottom line is that Mr Quayle and his team have the unenviable task of trying to find a new way for the Island to re-invent itself. It’s done it several times in the past and we have to have faith it can do so again. The Chief Minister is already eyeing the bio-med and bio-tech industries as potentially lucrative new income streams.
Mr Quayle, as former Health Minister, knows what it’s like to deal with the pressure of heading a huge, troubled department, so the trials and tribulations of the Chief Minster job certainly won’t faze him.
He has shown himself to be a pragmatist who is not afraid to make difficult or unpopular decisions. It’s just as well. We sincerely wish him the best of luck in his endeavours.
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