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Dear Editor,

Listening to reports that the Administration is again seeking to have legislation passed to increase taxes and fees on the private sector to fund shortfalls, I am prompted to write from a local business owner’s perspective as I hear many comments from my customers and the business community generally about the present poor economic conditions, and the effect that it is having on business.

The last thing we all need is additional cost in the overhead of running our businesses.

It is probably not an understatement to say that our local economy is in a depressed condition at present. It has been sliding downhill for most of this calendar year and it may continue to do so into 2013. This is not the view of some of our politicians, but it is certainly the view of many people in the business community who are struggling to remain afloat.

With perhaps one exception, there has not been any real new commercial investment recently and therefore there have not been any significant new employment opportunities created. The public sector continues to rely heavily on support from the Federal Government and there are some new projects planned and about to commence using federal funds which will assist with stimulating the economy.

However, and as has been reported on numerous occasions, ASPA charges continue to be at unsustainable levels for many in the community and the small business sector, and these charges are scheduled to rise again soon. Disposable incomes have declined as a result of unemployment increasing, inflation continues to rise and the prices of most of our imported food stuff continues to increase.

I have been discussing with fellow business owners the present and future economic conditions as they have impacted on their businesses of various sizes and in a cross section of industry sectors this year.

Some have reported reductions in their sales in the range of between 20-40%. Shipping companies report reductions of 20-25% in imports via containers as local importers reduce their inventory levels and extend the length of time between the placement of regular stock orders. Companies have reduced the number of working days and shortened their staff’s daily hours of work.

A number of the teams of gubernatorial candidates for the upcoming election have stated that if elected to office, it is their intention to work closely with the private sector to address the need and to develop and implement a plan for new investment attraction in the territory.

They have talked about a comprehensive evaluation of the feasibility of privatizing certain ASG assets, and making available more loan funds and putting in place an easier process of access to these funds to encourage local businesses to embark on expansion programs. They talk about revising existing rules and regulations to ensure that there is appropriate protection for local investors and that any new investors should be made to feel comfortable and confident that their investment will be adequately protected.

Whilst the results of these actions if eventually implemented will be most welcome by the private sector, most are, by definition, medium to long term solutions. Time is not on our side. I am sure that we all look forward to some well planned, decisive and immediate action by the new Administration with the total support and commitment from our Legislature in order to try to redress the downward slide in our fragile economy and build it into a strong and vibrant place to carry out and expand our existing businesses and to encourage the establishment of new businesses as soon as possible .

David Robinson
President - Impex Pacific