There was a short agenda for this meeting of Executive Council attended by MLA's Barry Elsby, Phyl Rendell and Mike Summers.
Jamie Fotheringham attended to introduce and discuss the first paper which set out the draft communique which will be issued from the Joint Ministerial Conference in London next week, which he will attend with MLA's Ian Hansen and Roger Edwards. The JMC is the annual meeting between the UK Overseas Territories and the UK Government, and which is chaired by the UK Overseas Territories Minister. The communique summarises the areas of co-operation and co-operative working between the UK and the OT's, particularly in areas of Economic Diversification, Employment and Education, Financial Services, the Environment and Green Energy, Good Governance and the Rule of Law, Security and Self Determination. The Falkland Islands has recommended a number of changes to the communique which better represent its interests. The final communique, which will be used to guide the relationship for the following year, will issue in its final form next week.
The next two papers concerned Fisheries matters; MLA's Phyl Rendell and Mike Summers did not attend for these papers, and MLA Gavin Short stood in. John Barton attended. A paper on access fees for finfish was tabled, but Members felt that more work was required on this important paper and have asked for it to be brought back to the next meeting of EXCO.
Illex Fees for 2014 were then considered. This paper setting fee and refund policy for the coming year was discussed at some length. It was agreed that fees should increase by 5% as it had been some considerable time since the last increase. There were some changes to the refund policy to take account of catches made on the high seas as against those made purely in Falkland Waters. The refund policy will be applied to those vessels which transship in Falkland ports and co-operate fully with the catch verification process. Vessels will also need to accurately report catches made on the high seas. The licence allocation policy remains unchanged.
Three applications for exploration licenses were agreed for geotechnical and environmental work in support of Premier Oil and Noble Energy. Members then considered some issues in relation to the proposed combination of Falklands Oil and Gas and Desire Petroleum, and consequent amendments to license conditions.
A draft Bill was remitted to the Legislative Assembly which amends the Livestock and Meat Products Ordinance. The principal change in this Bill is to do away with the differentiation between the export and non-export seasons at Sand Bay Abattoir; this reflects current practice at the plant and makes all product from Sand Bay saleable to those who require EU certification. Other minor amendments reflect comment by EU inspectors, but have no practical effect on farmers and suppliers.
Some amendments to the Minimum Wage Legislation clarify some points of detail on the inclusion of deductions made at source in the calculation of the minimum wage. These have been reported separately by Michael Poole and Jamie Fotheringham.
A policy clarification was sought on capital gains tax calculations in respect of the Hydrocarbons Industry, to ensue FIG remains an attractive investment destination, and this was agreed.
Two applications for Falklands Status were approved for Andy Watson and Johnny Henry. The schedule of meetings for next year to enable two meetings of Executive Council per month and one meeting of the Legislative Assembly per month were agreed. A number of appointments to statutory boards following the general election, which reflect portfolio allocations, were approved.
Some staff issues relating to improvements in the management of the pharmacy, medical stores and hospital estates management were agreed, as was the designation of the Head of Finance as Deputy Commissioner for Taxation.
Finally, Members requested Treasury staff to prepare a paper for the next meeting on how best to approach the abolition of MST, and this will therefore be discussed in more detail next month, and to commence work on the capital works programme so that an open public discussion on priorities and timings can take place in advance of the formal budget sessions in 2014. Members also discussed the opening up of the budget meetings to public access, and a paper setting out the preferred approach is to be produced.
Mike Summers 21 Nov 3013