Island can rise to challenge of change in revenue share – Chief Minister

Chief Minister Tony Brown MHKTHE Isle of Man can manage the consequences of change in its revenue sharing arrangement with the United Kingdom, Chief Minister Tony Brown MHK told Tynwald today (Tuesday October 20, 2009).

But he warned that some ‘very difficult decisions’ will be needed to come through a situation which he described as unprecedented in the Island’s recent history.

In a statement to Tynwald the Chief Minister revealed that revision of the sharing arrangement will result in an annual loss of revenue to the Isle of Man Government of at least £50 million from April next year, rising to £100 million from April 2011. Added to revenue reductions already projected, due to the UK economic performance and lower VAT rate, this means the Island faces an estimated total loss of £90 million in the 2010/11 financial year and £140 million in subsequent years.

With overall net revenue spending estimated at £572.1 million in the current financial year, the Chief Minister said a potential loss of £90 million next year had ‘serious implications’. Nothing would be excluded in considering how to deal with the situation.

Government would examine how it could raise revenue, reduce spending and use reserves in the short-term to overcome the ‘substantial shortfall’ in income. In the coming months Government would be looking at all budgets to see how spending could be contained within total income. Government’s priority would be to secure the most important services provided to the community and safeguard the future. Less critical services would be examined, with the possibility of public sector redundancies.

The Chief Minister confirmed that the Customs and Excise Agreement (under which the revenue sharing arrangement is made) was being retained.

He concluded:

‘Government is confident that the present re-adjustments within the Sharing Arrangement, whilst causing serious initial budgetary and public service pressures, especially due to the short notice of the changes, will be managed in an orderly fashion and will ultimately leave us stronger and fitter for the future.’