Building public confidence following the recent ‘turmoil’ in the wake of the Sefton loans affair.
That is one of the key aims of the Department of Economic Development’s new Minister Laurence Skelly.
The Rushen MHK was promoted to the DED from the Department of Infrastructure following the resignation of John Shimmin.
‘One thing as a Minister I must do is build on public confidence,’ he said.
He said the department had been in ‘a bit of turmoil’ following the publication of legal advice over government’s loans to the Sefton Group, leading to Mr Shimmin’s resignation.
And that accordingly, his diary over the next few weeks would see him engaging with the private sector and reaffirming government’s commitment to growing the economy.
Mr Skelly was promoted to the key ministerial role after just four months at the DoI.
‘I do feel very comfortable in accepting the role,’ he said.
‘I have worked in the department for two and a half years prior to taking over the Minister’s job at DoI so I have led a lot of delegations and been involved with a lot of activity in the DED.’
And he said his former life in business had also put him ‘in good stead’.
He described his promotion to the role as ‘bitter sweet’, adding: ‘I have worked in this department previously and I have a lot of respect for John Shimmin.’
Mr Skelly is working closely with Mr Shimmin to smooth the transition.
‘I have huge respect for him for what he has done in the department and in government.’
He said he felt ‘delighted’ and ‘highly honoured’ to accept the role.
‘It is a massive department with big responsibilities,’ he said.
Mr Skelly didn’t consider turning down the role, saying: ‘I have always stated to the Chief Minister I will do whatever jobs he feels my skills, background and experience will benefit the government.’
He explained he has two main priorities within the department: ‘The first is to maintain the momentum which has already started. We have heard there’s green shoots in many different sectors.
‘We need to maintain that growth, we need to maintain the diversity and get a stable economy going forward.
‘The second is that growing the economy is all about jobs. It’s not just about job creation but about job security.’
He added: ‘I’d like to recognise some of the efforts that have been made with vocational jobs. There are some fantastic vocational opportunities.’
He admitted there were ‘plenty of challenges’: ‘In the DED there’s many delegations from different sectors.
‘The difficulty we have is sifting through that to see what will be the greatest benefit to the Isle of Man.’
He added: ‘Like the rest of government, we are trying to operate on a very finite budget to grow the economy.