Keys were back in session this week, with MHKs meeting without their MLC colleagues for the first time in 2021. Here’s a quick brief of what we know from the written questions.

No NI Holiday

Douglas South MHK Paul Quine asked Treasury Minister Alf Cannan what plans the Treasury has considered for a National Insurance Holiday for businesses with a reduced turnover as a result of Covid-19?

However, AC said: ‘The Treasury has not considered re-introducing a National Insurance Holiday for businesses as the other support packages that have been put in place have provided reasonable levels of support that have helped businesses, protected jobs and stabilised the economy. Overall we have provided in excess of £68 million in support to the economy through the Manx Earnings Replacement Allowance (MERA), Salary Support, Grant Schemes, the Strategic Capacity Scheme and the Business Adaption Grant.’

No Info on Masts

A request by Chris Thomas MHK for info on the location of telephone masts in the island has been denied by the Minister for Enterprise. Laurence Skelly said the masts are ‘commercial activities which are installed and maintained by Isle of Man licenced operators by way of their telecommunications licence and planning processes. As such this is not information the DfE requests or retains’.

He added: ‘The Office of Cyber Security and Information Assurance contributes to securing the Islands information networks through advice and guidance. They have confirmed that this is not information that they currently hold or request from the island’s operators. As such there is no legal or regulatory requirement for the licenced operators to provide the information requested in the Honourable Members question. The information is commercially sensitive in nature and as such not available in the public domain.’

Fibre Branches Out

Another question from Mr Chris as he wanted to know how the rollout of fibre broadband was going. Again it was Mr Skelly up to bat for the Council of Ministers and he said: ‘The total number of premises passed by fibre as of the end of December 2020 was 16,424 which equates to 39% of the island premises.’

He also included a series of charts which outlined how the rollout was going as well as annual projections, they can be found at the link below, but the rollout is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2024.

The other answers, which include details about negotiations with Manx Gas and police cautions, can be found here.