The Mid West Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MWCCI) has expressed its support for the continued future of the Royalties for Regions Program in the wake of a report of Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA (CCIWA) calling for a review.
“Though CCIWA and the MWCCI work closely on many issues, there will be times we as a regionally based Chamber do not share the same view on particular topics,” stated MWCCI CEO Rob Jefferies.
“The Mid West Chamber of Commerce and Industry has seen first-hand how valuable this program is to our local communities and will continue to support its longevity and the benefit it brings to regional WA.”
The Royalties for Regions Program formulated by the National Party of Western Australia in 2008 involves the redirection of a dedicated portion of government spending into the rural areas of the state. The fund is protected by legislation which requires 25 per cent of mining royalties to be set aside. CCIWA had comment that over the last five years Royaltiesfor Regions would get around double what it was originally allocated.
However, the MWCCI has been quick to point out that all of the Royalties raised are generated from regionally based projects and there were still substantial infrastructure requirements and community services deficits that must be addressed to enable growth in regional industry and to achieve reasonable service levels and facilities for regional communities.
“We understand that CCIWA does support Royalties for Regions and are seeking more transparency in funding processes,” advised Mr Jefferies. “But the communities and organisations vying for funds know that there are extensive checks and balances and arduous application processes already in place.”
“While we all understand the need for accountability in government spending, there needs to be an awareness that further layers of bureaucracy will exclude many very worthy organisations and projects because in many cases, rural communities, volunteers and not for profits simply do not have the resources to divert to funding applications when they are up to their armpits in dealing with the issues.”
“Any review should be directed at streamlining and making it more accessible to regional organisations in the thick of working to improve their community’s economic future and sustainability,” he said.
“The MWCCI believes the program is working very well, is vital to sustaining the regions and we support the stated views of Ministers Grylls and Buswell that refinement rather than wholesale changes is all that may be necessary.”