With the obituary for 2013 now inked and complete, we can focus all our energies on the year ahead. As with any uncertain journey there is trepidation and enthusiasm. This year I wanted to reflect on my hopes and fears for the year 2014.
A new year represents a fresh start to many, not so much a continuation but a new beginning. My hopes would include prosperity and health for all Islanders this year; both wishes may be stretch goals in the current environment.
We are, unfortunately, increasingly reliant on the federal government for both health and prosperity. To the benefit of Islanders a hope would be that federal-provincial relations are strong and constructive over the coming year.
For future Islanders I would hope that the public debt not only be drastically reduced, but that an effective plan be implemented to manage our crippling provincial financial load.
With greatly reduced capacity to invest, government lending agencies, hopefully, will reduce their compulsion to create false economies through corporate welfare grants. A more Darwinian approach to business success is long overdue.
I would hope that businesses have the confidence to make investment in 2014. Without this necessary stimulation from the private sector our general economy will suffer. A consequence of a flourishing economy will be wage growth amongst the earning taxpayers, and increases in discretionary expenditures are needed at this time.
I also hope our system of education will make progressive reforms to improve educational outcomes. We are arguably doing a disservice to our future generation(s) as they will be disadvantaged to compete in a global economy.
I hope that people will be able to adapt to last year’s increases in taxation, my fear is that they will not accommodate new tax burdens and the recession we are teetering upon may be long and difficult.
Further fears would include challenges in the construction sector brought about through enthusiastic supply. The compounding impact of this will be the employment lures to other provinces and when our market recovers the workforce may not be available to support our demands.
I fear government’s insatiable need for revenue may raise taxes rather than managing expenses. The result of this will be a deferral in economic recovery. The uncommon bedfellows of business and organized labour may rally in common cause under the assault of cash-starved governments.
The power of fear is paralyzing. Hope is the best defence. We must be mindful of our environment and manage costs prudently, and if we turtle our fears will be realized.
I hope that we see leadership from the business community, labour, citizens and government. We will need a new pact with a collective commitment to transform traditional economic approaches. I hope that we are courageous enough to take required actions and that we will see benefits transferred from the general economic growth that will be occurring in other geographies during 2014.
Blake Doyle is The Guardian's small business columnist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.