MEMBERS of a Tynwald scrutiny committee raised concerns about the secondment to Sark of a senior official who heads up a key government department.
Giving evidence to the economic policy review committee last week, Economic Development Minister John Shimmin was asked when he was made aware that his department’s chief executive officer Colin Kniveton was going to Sark. He replied: ‘Two weeks last Monday’, but added that he ‘didn’t think that unusual in this situation’.
Committee chairman Leonard Singer said his concern was less about the impact on DED than on the Department of Social Care, which is pressing forward with major welfare reform but is losing its chief executive officer Chris Corlett who will take over from Mr Kniveton while he is in Sark.
‘I personally cannot see that justification. It’s robbing Peter to pay Paul. I think a lot of people are quite astounded,’ said Mr Singer.
Mr Kniveton told the committee that it was the Chief Secretary who had given him authorisation to take leave of absence.
His secondment, which begins in November, is for an initial four months but could be extended to a maximum of six months, and will see Mr Kniveton help create a civil service in the tiny Channel Island which until a fully democratic government was elected in 2006 was Europe’s last feudal state.
Mr Shimmin and Mr Kniveton said the posting would create a favourable impression of the Isle of Man as a co-operative jurisdiction.
Earlier, the witnesses were asked what they had been doing in the last 12 months to attract new income streams to the island.
Mr Shimmin said during these ‘unprecedented times’ the priority was to stabilise the businesses and jobs already here and to identify and encourage new business opportunities existing in the UK and globally that could be attracted to the island.
He said the island’s proposition faced stiff competition from Jersey, Guernsey, Gibraltar and also the British Virgin Islands and the Cayman Islands.
Related article: Key government official seconded to isle of Sark.
Related article: Our priority’s still economic growth.
The Minister said many corporate service providers were finding times difficult at the moment and businesses in the finance sector were ‘all feeling the pressure’. He said Jersey and Guernsey were still leading us in this area but with their economies less diversified than ours, they were ‘throwing money at their finance sector’.
He said the proposition the Isle of Man was taking to China, Dubai and elsewhere is not so critically affected by changes taking place in the UK.
Committee member Howard Quayle MHK suggested we should be concentrating on areas where there is a gap in the market.
Mr Shimmin replied that the excellence of our shipping and aircraft registries and e-gaming industry was well recognised. He said no new banking licences had been issued for many years and this was something being actively pursued.
He said radical changes to data protection legislation in the EU was a massive area, and the island could be well placed as a base for data storage.
And he said he was prepared to take greater risks over potential new investment opportunities when they arose. ‘I’m pushing for levels of ‘‘qualified risk’’ to be increased not decreased,’ he said.
Mr Shimmin was asked if the department was looking to encourage high net worth individuals from France where a 75 per cent tax rate for the super-rich has been unveiled but he said this would be ‘counter-productive on an international reputation level’.
• Mr Kniveton’s secondment to Sark is the subject of a question scheduled for today’s sitting of Tynwald. Howard Quayle (Middle) is to ask the Chief Minister whether he was in favour of the secondment ‘in these difficult economic times’.
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Sunday 19 May 2013
Temperature: 8 C to 13 C
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Temperature: 9 C to 13 C
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