The state of the national economy and its relationship to Hawaii, the importance of the PMRF, and fiscal spending were the main topics discussed by U.S. Congressman Ed Case, D-Hawai‘i on Friday morning at the Kaua‘i Chamber of Commerce meeting.
“I think the (economic) outlook for Kaua‘i is good,” Case said. “I give Mayor (Bryan) Baptiste, the city council and the state legislature a lot of credit for the efforts they put into revitalize Kaua‘i’s economy.”
Although the Congressman feels that Kaua‘i’s economy is strong, he said that one of the more significant obstacles that could hinder future growth is the declining state of the national economy.
“Right now the economy is good here,” Case said. “However, if the national economy continues to stagnate, it will catch up with Kaua‘i…This island is not insulated from the national economy.”
Case believes that the PMRF can help keep Kaua‘i’s economy from stagnating.
“The PMRF is a major driving force for this island,” the Congressman said. “It is good for Kaua‘i economically. But we need to find a way, both for the military and this community, to expand the PMRF.”
The Congressman offered a few ways to help stimulate Hawaii’s economy. H
e discussed four bills that have been introduced in the House of Representatives.
The first bill is H.R. 205, “The National Small Business Regulatory Act of 2003.”
This act is an amendment to the “Small Business Act” in which the Director of the Small Business Administration (DSBA) would create a program to provide regular compliance assistance to small businesses.
The program would include confidential assistance for small businesses, the creation of a partnership among Federal agencies to increase outreach efforts to small business concerns and provide a mechanism for unbiased feedback to Federal agencies on the regulatory environment for small business concerns.
In designing the program, the DSBA would work with participating Small Business Development Centers in training and educational activities, technical assistance as well as confidential one-on-one counseling for small business owners who have concerns about compliance issues.
One of the other major issues that affects small businesses here on the island are high shipping costs for imports and exports.
The Congressman discussed three bills that, he believes, would help create an open market and lower costs for small businesses.
“The degree that we can open up competition in the shipping market is an economic benefit,” he said.
The three bills are H.R. 2845, 2846 and 2847. All three bills would amend the Merchant Marine Act of 1920. H.R. 2845 is the “United States Noncontiguous Shipping Open Market Act of 2003.”
H.R. 2846 is the “Hawaii Shipping Open Market Act of 2003” and H.R. 2847 is the “Hawaii Agriculture/Livestock Shipping Open Market Act of 2003.”
These amendments would allow transportation of merchandise including agricultural and livestock on foreign-flag vessels to be traded between a point in the connecting 48 states or Alaska and a point in Hawaii.
It would also include trade between any point in Hawaii to another point in this state.
“It seems to me that Kaua‘i can do very well even better down the road,” Case said. “But it also seems to me that there are some challenges, internal and external, that could affect Kaua‘i. We are doing fine now but there are some forks in the road.”
Business Editor Barry Graham can be reached at 245-3681 or mailto:email@example.com