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Friday, July 29, 2011

Wales PLC drifting in deep water?

It is difficult to disagree with the Welsh Conservative's Economic Spokesperson when he says in this morning's Western Mail that the Welsh Government's business and enterprise department has “left Welsh business in limbo” and that major decisions have been “kicked into the long grass”.

He is right when he says that the Welsh Government is “sending out mixed messages on enterprise zones, confusion reigns over grants or loans for business support, Techniums are under review, while major decisions on the future of business rates, broadband and the Welsh capital Infrastructure Fund are all pending.”

He has hit the nail on the head when he adds that: “At a time of economic uncertainty, the last thing the business community needs is a sluggish Economy Department intent on treading water rather than providing swift and efficient responses to the needs of Welsh businesses"

What is most worrying though is the official Government response. They say:

“Since her appointment in May, Mrs Hart has been undertaking an extensive programme of meetings and dialogue with business leaders, entrepreneurs and industry professionals from across Wales to fully understand their needs and views.

“This approach of direct engagement has already been widely welcomed and applauded by the Welsh business community and its leaders.

“Meetings will continue through the summer as the minister prepares to present her policy agenda when the National Assembly returns in September.”

Obviously the Minister needs to settle into the job, but it is not as if she is new to Government. Indeed she was a member of the Cabinet for the entire period that the One Wales' Government's Economic Strategy was being formulated and agreed. She has collective responsibility for that and surely she sees that it is necessary to react quickly to developments on the other side of the border so that Welsh businesses do not get left behind.

Yesterday for example it was announced that Bristol and Birmingham will be hosting Enterprise Zones. Unless we get to grips with our own policy on this then we will find jobs being sucked out of Wales.

September is a long time to wait for some sense of direction on this Government's economic policy. In business terms it is an eternity.
Not on topic, but should be of general interest.

As some of you know, I am a Welshman by fault or design located in the Washington DC metro area (i.e., well inside the 495 Beltway)...

Last night the GOP (Republican Party) failed to take a vote on its debt ceiling increase plan allegedly because of some hold-outs among the Tea Party.

The buzz now is that a bill will be voted on in Congress to extend the debt ceiling for a short time (less than a year causing it to be revisited prior to the Nov 2012 elections) with maybe just half a trillion in spending cuts (not enough by a long chalk to stop the credit agencies taking a hard look at the US current AAA rating).

In fact this was Charles Krauthammer's suggestion - he argued early on that it would be hard for the President to veto such a bill if presented to him.

In the words of more than one pilot: "We are in for some chop ... hold onto your hats".

‘Message Ends’ cw
Well, at least we can rely on our universities to continue stimulate innovation and attract vibrancy to our cities and towns - oh wait, no we can't because our education minister has run them into the ground and halved their number, and no one cares!!

This would NEVER happen in scotland.
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