Govt does listen to us, says Viera
Local businesses have the ear of Government now more than ever, according to Chamber of Commerce president Ronnie Viera.
Responding to claims made by economist Craig Simmons last week, who implied international business had more influence on government policies than local business owners, Mr Viera said he wanted to “emphasise what the Chamber is doing for local business.”
“We were surprised to read that local companies weren’t well represented,” said Mr Viera. “But in actual fact we are involved in a number of things with Government right now.”
“We don’t tell them what to do, but they ask us for information and we gladly provide feedback.”
Mr Viera said that the Chamber of Commerce had been involved with Government for several years in the process of work permit reviews, and other policy-making decisions, and said that the Chamber was receiving more attention from Government now than under the previous administration.
“We weren’t as successful with the previous administration in terms of getting people on advisory boards, but we’ve had more success with this Government. We appreciate being invited to sit on those committees.”
An example of the Chamber’s influence in Government, said Mr Viera, was the recent decision by Government to have a local bond issuance.
“The idea of a local government bond was floated by the Chamber a few years ago by our economics division, who recommended looking locally first. The Government has not issued local bonds for several years, it’s always been overseas. The Chamber localised this idea a few years ago and it’s another example of how we’re contributing. We certainly represent retailers and restaurants for tax relief; that benefits all restaurants and retailers locally.”
Mr Viera said that the Chamber’s restaurant division was also active in working with Government on various policies including the proposals for ID’s to be required whenever ordering a drink at a bar.
“I think [Mr Simmons’] concern was that local businesses weren’t being represented. Well, we are active. We are making sure we’re being heard. We meet quarterly with the Premier and regularly with other ministers. We represent our members, and non members as well.”
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