MLAs Summers, Elsby and Rendell attended the meeting and MLA Hansen attended for one item.
With March being only the second month when there were two Executive Council meetings, there was a light agenda. It is expected that paper submission will even out over the two meetings in the coming months.
Firstly the Treasury submitted a paper on the arrangements for the external audit of the Falkland Islands Government. The audit also includes the Development Corporation, Landholdings, the Meat Company, Tourist Board, Museum and National Trust and Media Trust. It was noted that in order to provide for the independent review of the Media Trust and the Museum and National Trust that would reduce costs for these organisations, amendments need to be made to the relevant enabling Ordinances. Members asked for this task is added to the legislative priorities list to be drafted this year and it was agreed to note these changes in the tender documents.
Currently Mazars LLP are contracted to undertake the audits. The company has been engaged by FIG for five years and their work has been of a high standard. However, it is considered best practice to go out to the market to seek expressions of interest from a range of accountancy firms from time to time. Mazars will be invited to re-tender along with other companies. Executive Council approved the procedures set out in the paper that will ensure an appointment is made in June.
Members approved a recommendation that the Secretary of States approval is sought to FIDC providing a guarantee to Standard Chartered Bank for FIMCOs overdraft facilities at a reduced amount of £1.4 million. (The sum was £1.5million last year). FIMCO require this facility for cash flow purposes due to income from overseas sales not being received until after the export season when salaries and payments to farmers need to be made.
A report on FIGs departmental Service Level Indicators for Quarter 2 (October December2013) was reviewed. Councillors welcomed the rationalisation on the number of indicators across government from over 360 to 160 and noted that reporting by directorates is now conducted electronically. It was acknowledged that an indicator for the Fisheries Department required amendment as it was only applicable in the Loligo season. The Chief Executive considers the process an important one, where FIG departments demonstrate publicly that they are meeting their agreed targets. Due to some key posts being unfilled during the reporting period there were some gaps, so it is expected that returns will be more complete in future.
Next Members discussed an information paper from the Head of Environmental Planning that addressed oil spills around the Islands. It addressed the recent diesel spill at Byron Heights where the Commander British Forces was able to advise Members that a report on the spill was imminent. He also advised that a land quality assessor was due to visit the Falklands later in the year. The paper also reported on activities since the oil spill in Mary Hill Quarry in June last year. A working group met in December to discuss waste management; however, Members were keen to see progress on implementing the recommendations in the Mary Hill Quarry oil spill report that had been approved by Executive Council last year. A progress report was requested for an ExCo meeting in April.
A revised management structure for the Emergency Services Directorate was approved. Currently the Director is also the Chief of Police. It was agreed that the role of Chief Police Officer would be separated from the Directors role to enable the Director to address strategic issues across the services that include Customs and Immigration, the Fire Service and the Falkland Islands Defence Force as well as the Royal Falklands Police. The new structure would also allow someone other than a police officer to be appointed Director.
The Director of Health and Social Services attended for the next paper where Members were asked to fund a Learning Support Assistant for a child with severe physical and special educational needs. The appointment was approved.
A matter was raised under Any Other Business on behalf of MLA Poole with regard to dumping of spoil in an area east of Mary Hill Quarry. Executive Council had approved a new site behind Megabid for spoil dumping in August last year but as the area is part of Stanley Common, there is a requirement for Regulations to the Stanley Common Ordinance to be amended to allow the area to be used. Other legal drafting priorities had prevented progress on the matter. In order to place spoil from the Noble Energy temporary port excavations in the new area, the amendment will be brought to the next meeting of Executive Council.