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Falkland Islands: Weekly Penguin News update

Friday, December 21st 2007 - 20:00 UTC
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Louise Newman receives an early Christmas present from Santa Louise Newman receives an early Christmas present from Santa

Headlines: Merry Christmas to all our readers!; Retrospective increase for holiday credits; New approach to financial planning; The newest Royal; Shearer is fastest driver caught by police; Date for your diary.

Merry Christmas to all our readers!SANTA CLAUS made a number of early visits to the Falklands this week but he has promised he will be back, as usual, on Christmas Eve. He made a special appearance at the Jellytots Christmas party at the weekend and he is expected to participate in the Christmas Carnival which takes place on Sunday, beginning at 1.30pm - floats will assemble at Rowlands Rise. Santa will be back in Stanley again at 5pm on Christmas Eve, when he will visit Victory Green. Sadly, however, Flying Santa has not been able to make his usual trip to deliver gifts to children in Camp. All is not lost though - Santa has managed to get the gifts for all the Camp children to the Islands and FIGAS has agreed to distribute these. A spokesperson from the North Pole said no one need panic about Santa's deliveries being made on the evening of December 24. She commented: "We have been assured that there will be no problem and Santa's visits will occur as usual for Christmas Day." Retrospective increase for holiday creditsTHE budget surplus from the last financial year has prompted councillors to reconsider Holiday Credit Scheme (HCS) payments. Following a surplus of £5.5 million, a one-off retrospective payment is to be made increasing the daily allowance to 50p for adults and 25p for children for 2006/07. This will cost the Falklands Government £168,000. There was discussion among councillors at Standing Finance Committee on Monday as to the benefits of the scheme and a vote was taken on whether the bonus payment would be made. A four - two majority agreed to the payment. At the meeting, Councillors Clausen and Summers appeared not to vote in favour while Cllr Hansen was not present. Cllr Summers later said however, that he did not vote against the principle of the payment, adding that when the Chair had called for a show of hands, "...I did not respond because I was not ready to do so." New approach to financial planningTHE government is to develop a five year plan for its approach to budgeting. As a result of the production of the new Islands Plan (see page 2) which sets out medium to long term objectives, a five year Medium Term Financial Plan (MTFP) will be developed for modest reduction and redirection of the government's expenditure, through the creation of an Island Plan Reserve, and for a shadow MTFP to meet reductions in revenue from the illex fishery. Financial Secretary Derek Howatt said the key differences in the MTFP were that it looked ahead five years instead of the current three and planned targets for those five years instead of the current one. He commented: "The advantage of a more structured and longer plan is that FIG should be better equipped to achieve its objectives and aspirations under the Islands Plan and to cope with any unexpected changes over the medium term. "The MTFP should ensure that public services and programmes remain sustainable and affordable in the medium term. Subject to annual review it will form the basis of the budget process including the funding mechanism for the Islands Plan." Mr Howatt said the MTFP sought to develop both a balanced budget and "facilitate resource redirection for growth" by a combination of reductions in expenditure and additional income of £1m per annum. The shadow plan will look at a scenario of double this figure in case of a further reduction in illex income. He commented: "I anticipate that the MTFP (and its shadow) will be highly significant aids, along with FIG's other plans, in the development of future budget strategy and fiscal policy." The newest RoyalFALKLANDS councillors have sent a letter of congratulations to the Earl and Countess of Wessex following the birth of their son this week. The little Royal's arrival came in the same week that his grandmother, Her Majesty the Queen, became the longest living monarch in history. Shearer is fastest driver caught by policeA SHEARER who was clocked travelling at 93 miles per hour on the Stanley to Darwin Road, narrowly evaded a prison sentence when he appeared in court on Wednesday. Evan Jones (23) was ordered to pay a total of £1,570 in fines and was disqualified from driving for 18 months after he pleaded guilty to speeding and reckless driving. Crown Counsel Julia Kraehling-Smith said that while the police were carrying out static speed checks on December 11, Mr Jones was detected travelling at 93mph on a tarmac section of the road about half a mile from the Mt Kent turn-off. She said the police were not aware of anyone having travelled faster on that road. After deliberating with JP assessors Terry Spruce and Phyl Rendell for almost an hour, Senior Magistrate Alison Thompson said they had seriously considered a custodial sentence because of the danger Mr Jones had put other road users in. However, she added, Mr Jones did not injure anyone else or damage property - but it was a serious offence and a deterrent message had to be publicly issued. Date for your diaryStanley By-Election January 3, 2008

Categories: Politics, Falkland Islands.

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