Dubbed ’a budget for investing in our future’, there were definitely echoes from 2021 in Minister Ashford’s first budget presentation as Treasury Minister.
Key word such as ’resilience’, ’challenges’ and ’opportunity’ reflected another year when the pandemic had dictated much activity and there was a clear message that the island now needs to move forwards with its economic goals.
While the recently-published Island Plan has so far received mixed reviews, it was interesting to see spend allocated to the various elements and targets within it.
This will hopefully give the plan more substance, and we were pleased to see financial commitments to tackling climate change and improving health and well-being, two areas that continue to be a focus for us as a responsible business and employer.
We also welcomed the additional funding for education.
Developing skills on-island is critical for the long-term sustainability of businesses operating here, particularly those in the technology sector, and it is important we all work together to create a workforce fit for the future.
Speaking purely from a telecommunications point of view, it was reassuring to see Government’s commitment to the planned £6m spend for the fibre optic rollout programme as part of the National Broadband Plan.
Fast and resilient connectivity has been identified as a key objective in helping to ensure the Isle of Man is an attractive location for businesses and residents in the future and this £6m will assist in making fibre accessible to more remote and difficult to reach premises.
Complementing Manx Telecom’s own £50m investment in fibre broadband infrastructure, the National Broadband Plan is currently anticipated to complete on target in July 2024.
The rollout of fibre is expected to propel the Isle of Man into the top ranks of countries by internet speed, increasing our attractiveness to businesses and enhancing the lives of residents in an increasingly connected world.