The monthly meeting of the Economic Development Committee (EDC) took place on Thursday, 26 September 2019, and the following is a summary of the main items discussed:
A new Ship Registry Policy for St Helena which achieves the action in the Sustainable Economic Development Plan to ‘update the Ship Registry Gazette to include a list of countries which is consistent with other countries in the Red Ensign Group’ was agreed. This updates a policy statement previously gazetted in January 2000. St Helena has a long maritime history and being a part of St Helena’s registry, and flying the prestigious Red Ensign flag, helps to contribute to the Island’s sustainable economic development through the payment of registration fees and global marketing of St Helena’s brand.
EDC also considered the development of a new Investor Prospectus by Enterprise St Helena (ESH). The Investor Prospectus is a marketing document outlining potential private sector opportunities on St Helena and providing information on incentives available to support investment. It also includes a list of a number of SHG assets which will soon become available for the private sector to purchase. The Investor Prospectus provides options and inspiration for investors to target their savings on St Helena, giving clear instructions on how to set up a business, where that could be located, and in what sectors they could find opportunities. The Committee endorsed the publication of the Investor Prospectus. The Prospectus will be presented to Executive Council, whereby they will be asked to endorse the publication, and the release of the Strategic Assets described. The Prospectus is intended to be hosted online and a link to the document will be shared, once endorsed by Executive Council.
EDC endorsed a proposal made by the Commissioners of Currency for amendments to sections 16 and 17 of the Currency Ordinance 1973 on the allocation of Currency Fund surpluses and transfers from the Currency Fund General Reserve. The proposal will ensure that as much of the annual surplus generated is allocated to the General Reserve to build resilience and security for the Fund rather than the surplus having to be allocated to the General Revenue of SHG, which is currently the case. Secondly, the proposed changes will also give SHG the ability to contribute to the General Revenue of SHG, if it is deemed prudent and equitable to do so with the approval of the Governor, through a clear and unambiguous process. The amendment legislation will now be drafted and presented back to EDC for final endorsement before presentation to Executive Council and Legislative Council.
ESH presented their Progress and Performance Report for August 2019, inclusive of brief updates. The Business Development Team facilitated 152 engagement meetings leading to 14 Grant Applications approved to date with the value of the micro-small-medium-enterprise grants supported equating to approximately £31,000. Four Agriculture Small Producer Support applications to a total value of approximately £13,000 was also noted. The Team is also active with promoting the revised Grants Policy, and the community initiative ‘Grand Ideas’ in partnership with the Governor’s Office and Commonwealth International Programme Fund. Works on the draft Investor Prospectus continues with the view of ExCo consideration during September, and the Investment Team continue to interact with local and international enquiries. The Tourism Team undertook on-going local and international promotional activities reporting their Bird Fair exhibition in UK, 67 tour operators selling St Helena, the arrival of 45 tourists and 97 visiting friends and relatives for July, and the receipt of 557 enquiries and 77 walk-ins to the Tourist Office during August. Activities surrounding the progress of Dark Skies Accreditation, and the planning of the upcoming Festival of Running and Cape to St Helena Yacht Race was also noted.
The Agriculture Development Officer gave a short update on the Agriculture & Natural Resources Division (ANRD) and ESH activities in supporting local egg marketing and sales. This included the following:
- Exporting Eggs to Ascension Island: Responses from Ascension are positive and a local business is proposing to coordinate the exportation of eggs to Ascension by working with a number of producers to achieve this. Discussions will be held with appropriate authorities to ascertain what concessions can be made with air freight to allow the export to be affordable to the Ascension community
- Promoting eggs on the menu at local institutes: Discussions were held with the staff of the Royal Princess Community Care Complex (CCC) and the Children and Adults Social Care Directorate who advised that the CCC had increased their consignment of eggs to include them in the daily menus
- World Egg Day: ESH is planning to promote this day on 9 October 2019. This includes promoting the following:
- Our local eggs have enabled imports of low quality battery bred eggs to have been substituted, keeping money on-Island
- Local production of good quality eggs helps food security for the Island
- The large supply of eggs has enabled the price of eggs to be affordable. The whole Island has access to a staple food product, including those on low incomes
- Eggs cooked well and eaten in moderation are a good source of dietary protein, vitamins, minerals and trace elements.
The Committee was given an update on feedback received during public consultation sessions on the draft Labour Market Strategy. The consultations will continue until 11 October and a full summary of feedback will be provided at the EDC meeting on 24 October 2019.
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7 October 2019