Cooperation: The Chamber of Commerce and government appear to be in sync. *Stock photo
Cooperation: The Chamber of Commerce and government appear to be in sync. *Stock photo

The new government has already proved to be business friendly but national debt and budget deficits are still pressing concerns.

This from Chamber of Commerce president Ronnie Viera, who says the best way forward is to stimulate economic activity.

“We remain concerned about the level of government debt and the annual budget deficits,” he told the Chamber’s AGM on Monday, “and believe there has to be a reduction in both to avoid serious long-term problems for the island.

“Servicing the debt is going to be a challenge for years to come and the potential impact on business in the form of increased taxation is concerning.

“We will work with government on initiatives which will stimulate the economy, which we believe is the most effective method of increasing government revenues.”

Being more visible

Mr Viera said the Chamber had made an effort in 2012 to be more visible in its efforts to help island businesses.

Speaking at the Fairmont Hamilton Princess, he explained: “We made a conscious decision to become more vocal on issues relating to business and commerce, particularly on government policy and the economy.

“Our mission is to lobby the government of the day for policies that facilitate business as opposed to being an impediment.

“Some of the legislation and/or policies enacted over the past several years have now been reversed or modified, which I believe will soon result in positive change in certain areas of the economy.

“However, we still have a long way to go and I am pleased that the current government has welcomed our input and has demonstrated a more business friendly attitude.”

He pledged that the Chamber will continue hold the new government accountable.

Mr Viera backs the new Tourism Plan and the Business Development Corporation:

“Once the Tourism Authority is fully implemented, our two main economic pillars will be in the capable hands of industry professionals, which we support, entirely.”

He said some of the lobbying efforts of the Chamber have resulted “in real value to members and in the case of payroll tax relief, significant savings to business owners”.

Mr Viera said the Chamber’s Economics Advisory Committee has been analyzing the studies on debt management and Value Added Tax: “I am encouraged by the fact that the government is welcoming their feedback and reports.”

He also made a pitch to would-be new members: “We must continue to work hard to convince those that aren’t members of the value of membership and how important it is to have a vibrant and economically viable Chamber.”