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Falklands: Executive Council Report 29 January 2014

Executive Council Report 29 January 2014

MLAs Elsby, Rendell and Poole attended the meeting. MLA Mike Summers was on overseas business for FIG and MLA Michael Poole took his place at the meeting.

The first two papers addressed planning and development matters and Environmental Planning Officer, Mr Steve Butler, attended for those items. The first paper titled Development Plan and National Infrastructure Plan (NIP), Members endorsed a broad approach to preparation of a Development Plan and NIP with a timetable for public consultation and noted the strategic policy questions in the appendices. The paper will be made available for the public and brings together structure planning that has been addressed in previous years (the where? question) for Stanley and the Camp and the more detailed work of the NIP that will set out the priorities for infrastructure investment over the next 20 years or so, addressing the what, how and when questions.

Secondly, Steve presented his paper on proposed amendments to the Planning Ordinance and related Regulations and Orders. Amendments to the legislation include giving people the right to speak at Planning and Building Committee meetings if they have written to the Committee about a development and delegating some powers to the EPO that have already been discussed by the Committee. In addition, a section on Developer Contributions, where a developer may be asked to contribute to the cost of related infrastructure such as a road exit, is proposed to be included, allowing FIG to bring in regulations in these areas in the future if they so wish. People will have a month to comment on these proposals before them coming to the Assembly.

Next a proposal or Noble Energy to construct a temporary jetty in Stanley harbour was approved.

Members gave approval to FIDC to loan funds for the purchase of a farm. It was agreed that a £2 coin would be struck to mark the Centenary of the Battle of the Falklands at no cost to FIG. The event will be commemorated on and around 8 December this year.

A more taxing paper came next! MLAs considered an amendment to The Extra Statutory Concession 16 under the Taxes Ordinance 1997 in relation to oil companies. Companies are required to pay a capital gain on farming into a licence and under the current Concession they are granted 5 years or on the production of First Oil, whichever the sooner, to pay their tax. The amendment would allow companies to defer payments until First Oil but require there to be a formal agreement between the company and FIG. It was acknowledged that some companies cannot pay the sums in question until production commences, and to do so would prevent investment in further exploration and appraisal activities that was not in the national interest. The change to the Concession was agreed with safeguards to protect FIG against loss of monies due to company restructures etc.

Members agreed funding of a consultancy for the Director of Central Services to identify an airline that could offer flights to the Falklands that would help to develop tourism. This work has been on-going for some time, and FIDC has done valuable work on the business case for such a link. Now FIG wants to move ahead and see what opportunities there are for flights to the Islands.

FIG also approved continuing a programme of visits overseas to reiterate our right to self-determination and other key messages. As a result, MLAs are seeking expressions of interest from people of all ages in the community who are willing to accompany them on overseas trips, to contact Krysteen at Gilbert House. Publicity regarding this will be put out in the near future. A Memorandum of Understanding between FIG and Falklands Conservation (FC) was agreed that will be effective until the end of 2016. This is along the same lines as previous letters where the practicalities for FC to apply for core funding from FIG and reporting are set out. One change is to move the emphasis from a national insect collection to the national herbarium.

An Officer/Member Protocol prepared by the Attorney General (AG) was welcomed and agreed with minor amendments. This document sets out working guide-lines for MLAs and FIG officials and will be shared with officers throughout the service, made public and adopted by Legislative Assembly.

The British umbrella charity, The Disaster Emergency Committee (DEC) comprising fourteen UK charities, was granted recognition as a charity for Tax purposes by ExCo. DEC applied for charity status following fundraising here in the Falklands for those affected by Typhoon Haiyan that struck the Philippines on 8 November. In the case of future disasters, people here will be able to donate money that is exempt from tax. MLAs also suggested that requests for charitable status in future could be delegated to the AG and Financial Secretary. The AG will check to see if this is possible.

Terms of Reference and Rules of Procedure were agreed for the Advisory Committee on the Prerogative of Mercy. The purpose of the Advisory Committee is to advise the Governor in relation to his powers under section 71 of the Constitution to pardon convicted people. The committee meets infrequently and had no documentation for guidance. MLAs Cheek and Rendell are currently on the committee while they hold office, together with the AG and the Chief Executive. The TORs will now go to Leg Assembly for adoption.

Next there was a paper on delegation of appointment of lay people to committees. Currently an ExCo paper is required for each appointment. Members agreed that in future committee chairmen, after seeking nominations from the public, would recommend lay members to the Clerk of Councils. She would brief other MLAs and, if no objections were raised, the Governor would be recommended to make the appointment as required the Constitution and avoid the need to go to ExCo. In the rare event that there was challenge to an appointment, the matter would be referred to ExCo. Following this discussion, Mrs Melanie Gilding was appointed to the Health and Medical Services Committee and Mr Derek Clarke was reappointed to the Stamp Advisory Committee.

The Governor has also appointed Mr Dick Sawle as Principal Complaints Commissioner which is very welcome.

Six applications for Falklands Status were then approved.

Regards Government staffing, ExCo approved the creation of the post of Trainee Internal Auditor for two years. No additional funds were requested due to funds being used from the Community Development Scheme. Members warmly endorsed this initiative. On another matter, MLAs requested that FIG review its policy on the number of contracts an officer can have before going onto local terms, (currently 5 years) due to the pressures in FIG to recruit and retain staff. A paper will come to Members in due course. Two Marine Ecologist posts were also approved to work on the offshore hydrocarbons gap analysis that is jointly funded by FIG and the oil companies.(FIPLA).These appointments are for two years and they will work from the Environmental Research Institute in Stanley Cottage under the direction of Dr Paul Brickle, with reporting lines to a sub-committee of the Offshore Hydrocarbons Forum.

The Royal Falkland Islands Police Annual Objectives were approved and will be publicised by the Director.

Lastly ExCo ratified a decision taken before Christmas to waive fees that the tall ships visiting Stanley harbour were due to pay. All Members supported the recommendations raised by the Harbour Master and the Chief Customs Officer and work is on-going to have Stanley recognised as a Tall Ships Friendly Port due in part to the business that such visits can generate.

Phyl Rendell 29/01/14

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