Is Alaska a one-trick pony, as one participant in the recent discussion at Centennial Hall about Alaska’s fiscal challenges said?
Various countries come to my mind — Singapore, Iceland, Republic of Ireland and Bermuda.
Singapore is a leader in several economic areas. It has very few, if any, natural resources but concentrates on providing financial, shipping and ship-related services.
Iceland has diversified into manufacturing and service industries. The country has also increased its commitment to renewable energy.
The Republic of Ireland has transformed itself from a predominantly agricultural to a modern knowledge economy focused on high technology industries and services.
Bermuda is an offshore financial center with minimal standards of business regulation/laws and minimal direct taxation on personal or corporate income. It has one of the highest consumption taxes in the world. Its financial success is measured by the fact that GDP per capita is the highest in the world.
Alaska has depended on oil for most of its revenue for more than 30 years. With the stark decline in such revenues, it is time to think of alternatives and to consider:
• Technology and financial services
• Shipping and ship-related services because of the expected openings in the far north shipping routes.
We need to realize that dependence on natural resources will continue to leave us at the mercy of fluctuating prices, over which we have no control.
I recognize that the nations I have mentioned have differences from Alaska, but I’m suggesting that we concentrate more on our intellectual, informational and geographic strengths than on our natural resources for future revenues and security.
Sara H. Willson,