The Falkland Islands gave last week yet another step in the evolution of internal self government: the Executive Council monthly summary will no longer be presented by the Governor of Islands as has been tradition, but by a democratically elected member of the government.
Three (out of eight) elected members from the Legislative Council sit in the Executive Council, and it was Councillor Dr Andrea Clausen job to present the December 14th Executive Council summary which on this occasion addressed significant fiscal, budget, communications and Landholdings issues. "A relatively small number of papers covering a wide range of subjects were presented to Executive Council on the 14th December 2006. Starting with fiscal issues, Executive Council approved the remission of a second supplementary appropriation for this financial year into Legislative Council which was held on Friday 15th December 2006. This bill provides legal authority for a total of £1,067,990 to be withdrawn from the Consolidated Fund in order to meet supplementary expenditures resulting from the November Budget Review (£730,990) and to provide further funds to FIDC for the continuation of the coastal shipping service (£337,000). Executive Council also approved the 2007/08 Budget Strategy Framework, based on a scenario of gradual improvement in Illex revenues (as has been the case over recent years). Key recommendations include: maintaining a balanced budget; meeting inflation including pay awards by efficiency savings and reductions in discretionary expenditures; limiting the transfer budget to £5m; continuing to develop the user pays principle; limiting the net capital expenditure to £12m in any 3 year rolling period and maintaining our net liquid assets at 2.5 times the operating budget. Council further requested that officers examine a number of areas: 1) user pays, in particular to look at how many schemes we currently have, how many more there potentially are and how these schemes effect the lower income sectors of our community; 2) the possibility of treating Illex income as a windfall, in particular to look at setting revenue at a realistic fixed level for future years and treat any revenue over and above that amount as windfall; 3) to consider incentive schemes to improve efficiencies, not necessarily as performance pay. Regarding the new coastal shipping contract, Council approved that Falkland Island Government move into a formal contract with the preferred tenderer, Workboat Services Limited. On a related matter, Council agreed to apply only the directly attributable supervisory costs to the construction of the road to Mount Alice, rather than the standard 33% overhead (this was considered an appropriate further commitment to reducing MOD defence costs). Executive Council had previously agreed to adapt its Camp road building programme to accommodate the construction of roads to both Mt Alice and Byron in order that the MOD can effectively utilise the new cross sound ferry when it comes into service in 2007. On planning matters Executive Council upheld a planning appeal but added a number of conditions to the planning permission. Council also decided to support the decision by the Planning and Building Committee to grant planning permission for the erection of a dwelling at 2 Goss Road, Stanley. This permission, whilst complying with Development Controls (D2) within the Stanley Town Plan, actually falls outside those under Green Space Provision (H12). However, this is relatively small and is physically separated from the main green space, and so the decision was taken to allow this "departure application". Finally an information paper on the Falkland Landholdings Recovery Plan was received. Following a workshop in September the FLH Board made the following conclusions: 1) to reduce the number of animals supplied to the abattoir to 12,000 (6,000 lambs and 6,000 weathers) over the next 3 years; 2) breeding ewes need to increase by at least 10,000 over the same period which in turn would allow the flock to increase by 20,000 sheep to maintain wool income; 3) to supplement 3,800 ewes and 6,000 ewe hoggets with both swede and by-pass protein in order to meet objective 2). It is estimated that the cost of providing the fodder crop and by-pass protein will be met by the cash benefit and so this exercise will be cost neutral. More generally it was noted that whilst FLH still require a subsidy, it is slightly less that that originally forecast and will be required at a different stage in the plan".