CBI sets out its plans for 1997

The CBI employers' organisation has set out a five-point programme of long-term priorities for 1997. CBI hopes that by consulting members on targeted issues, it will be able to draw up concerted plans for the long-term future competitiveness of British industry.

At the beginning of February the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) set out its long term priorities for beyond the forthcoming general election. Its director general, Adair Turner said that "whatever happens between now and May, there are fundamental issues for business which need attention. The changing nature of the world in which we do business brings both opportunities and challenges, and the CBI should be at the heart of change."

One of the CBI's key concerns was that there should be a stable economy with tight control of public finances and low inflation. The organisation has five main target areas:

  • Economic and Monetary Union- the CBI will be consulting its members over the first eight months of 1997 to determine its position on whether the UK should join EMU;
  • labour market flexibility- if EMU is to go ahead, the CBI believes that the efficiency of Europe's labour markets will become vital. Therefore, it will be undertaking labour market research to enable it to promote the required changes;
  • education and training- the CBI says that much more effort must be put into creating a strong foundation, particularly in primary education. It will therefore be looking at issues such as class size, standards and resources;
  • manufacturing- a major project is to be undertaken by the CBI's National Manufacturing Council to assess the competitiveness of British manufacturing. It particularly wants to find out whether there are any impediments to success, and to identify where improvements in manufacturing performance can be made; and
  • transport infrastructure- the CBI argues that if improvements in economic performance are to be forthcoming, then a much improved transport system will be a vital precondition. It is particularly keen to investigate what it sees as the conflicting requirements of business, the environment and public finances involved.

The CBI has recently improved its consultation processes through the use of information technology. It can now communicate more effectively and target those members with specific interests and expertise with the aim of ensuring that its overall policies reflect the wishes of the whole of the business community.

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