Over recent months the Falkland Islands Government have undertaken a review and refresh of the Economic Development Strategy for the Islands.
The updated version was made available publicly in early October and according to Mike Summers, an outgoing member of the Legislative Assembly of the Islands, represents “…a realistic analysis of the Falklands economy and the opportunities for future growth”.
The strategy only looks forward three years, with it being suggested that a further update towards the end of the decade may be required.
The strategy builds on earlier work undertaken in 2010 and follows the broad structure adopted at that time. The Falkland Islands Government Policy Unit has assessed progress against economic growth targets set back in 2010 and have concluded that there has been some good progress across existing sectors of the Islands economy, but that structural challenges and vulnerabilities still exist.
The report highlights that the economy grew by 26% between 2009 and 2012, but that wide fluctuations in GDP annually still exist due to the reliance on the fishing sector, with catches varying annually. It highlights that this reliance on an, at times, unreliable natural resource does not help economic planning and wider development.
The strategy begins by highlighting cross-cutting issues that inhibit economic development in the Islands, such as the need for a larger workforce to meet latent demand. It also goes on to define the role of the local Government as needing to provide clearer leadership and direction and an enabling environment for private-sector led growth. This aligns with the new public sector management approach across a number of Western countries, whereby the government is not seen to lead development, but merely facilitate it.
The strategy then details actions to be taken across the Islands key economic sectors of fisheries, agriculture, tourism and oil and gas development. These include such items as maximizing economic interaction with the UK military base in the Islands, through to enhancing more involvement within the fishing sector.
This strategy was consulted upon earlier in the year, but with a general election due to be held on the 9th November 2017 in the Islands, some of the candidates for election have suggested in local media and on social media that the document may need to reviewing again to ensure it aligns with the new Governments priorities when in office.