In my first radio interview following my arrival on 11 May, I was asked if I would give my reflections on St Helena after my first 100 days. It seems to be an unwritten convention that surviving in a job for the first three months confers some mystical ability to foretell the future. Interestingly, the term ‘100 days’ originates with Napoleon and the so-called 100 days between the time he escaped his exile on Elba and his defeat and the restoration of King Louis XVIII in Paris on 8 July 1815. Actually, it was 111 days but who is counting that closely. Still, a real connection to St Helena. Nonetheless, not one to resist a challenge, here is my go at a set of 100-day insights.

We all know St Helena is a beautiful island with dramatic scenery. Hot to warm(ish) throughout the year. Steeped in history, a culturally diverse community, home to the oldest recorded land animal and surrounded by a pristine ocean. Taken together the Island should be a thriving and buoyant place where people in increasing numbers would want to visit and live. This is not (yet) the case. The reasons are a combination of historical legacy, geographical position and local opportunities and expectations.

Let me begin with the economy. It was Bill Clinton who used the phrase ‘it’s the economy, stupid’ in his 1992 US Presidential campaign. He was right. If the economy is not performing, incomes, jobs, public services and just about everything are not right. At this moment in time St Helena is firmly in an economic slump. The mini-boom during the construction of the Airport when employment and wages increased is now over. Prices and costs are rising at around 4% per annum, whilst the size of the economy has most likely shrunk. Average salaries are low in comparison to the money that can be earnt on Ascension, Falklands and the UK and disposable income and consumer spending have become smaller in recent years.

I have met many people and groups across the Island and heard about their worrying problems and genuine concerns for the immediate future. I know too, the elected councillors are seized with the urgency attached to improving the situation and the unpleasant recognition that collectively we all need to find the ways out of it. The basic problem, as I see it, is the size of the economy is too small. There is simply not enough money swirling around the Island to provide a better level of wages or to have more consumer spending or to pay for improvements to our infrastructure or to sustain enough revenues to the public sector to fund the services everyone expects. The financial top up from the UK is welcomed but will never be enough to satisfy expectations. We simply must generate more of the green stuff ourselves by selling more elsewhere, importing less and attracting ‘new money’ from outside.

The situation for St Helena, whilst tough, is far from hopeless. There are a variety of opportunities on the horizon. You may think this a bold view but I sincerely believe it. In going out and about widely across the Island I detect a definite appetite amongst many people and businesses to improve their lot. In turn, it is the job of our elected representatives, St Helena’s public services and the Governor’s Office to provide the basis for improvement that others can take forward.

Through the force of the circumstances before us St Helena has embarked, whether you see it as good or otherwise, on a generational change in the way of life that can be sustained. A heavily supported island continuing in relaxed isolation is not likely to be a maintainable business model. It will only encourage more economically active people to move on and distort further the age profile of the Island. The recently circulated draft Labour Market Strategy is a wake-up call to us all. At this moment in time we are a handful of years into the unpredictable process of change. Keeping and attracting younger people to become commercially and professionally active in St Helena, as opposed to taking their talents elsewhere, is a challenge the Island must win.

The generational decisions looming before us to build up the economy will probably mean more people ultimately are employed in the private sector than the public one. It will probably mean the expectation of some of a steady job for life will end. It certainly means we should find a better way to govern ourselves to ensure decision-making in weeks (not years) and individual elected councillors becoming directly responsible politically for the performance of SHG directorates. It will probably mean more public services should be done by the private sector. It will probably mean the remaining public services having to operate with less cash. It will probably mean 8.30 to 4.30 lifestyles will be compromised to increase staff productivity and better customer satisfaction. It will probably mean public support for some things will have to be stopped or switched to other areas. It will probably mean prioritising support for business-generating measures over public service ones. It will mean welcoming in with less misgivings more investors from the world beyond. It will surely mean internet-based business and services impact far more on one’s life than many can currently imagine.

In technical-speak the generational change for St Helena is a transition from a government subsidised economy to a consumer-led one. If our economy is going to grow it will inevitably increase the number of new faces coming to live on the Island. Look around at Cayman, Jersey or Bermuda, this is the norm on the economically successful overseas territories and Crown dependencies and if St Helena is to be successful eventually it will be the same for us.

So, what is the Governor’s Office going to do? We will concentrate our efforts on where we can add value to support the elected councillors, the public sector, business and community organisations. In particular, approaches to future governance and building economic prospects for the Island. Five areas of work have been identified:

  • Improving political accountability, uphold the Constitution and support prompt decision-making by working with elected representatives on putting in place the best ways of getting things done
  • Providing active support to reforms within SHG, especially their present initiatives to be more effective and streamlined
  • Supporting SHG and other agencies to pursue and land every realistic economic development opportunity
  • Supporting SHG to implement successfully and as quickly as possible its important infrastructure programme and pursue every credible option to improve air access arrangements
  • Ensuring St Helena’s international obligations are progressed, including FCO and other externally funded work on marine protection, marine safety, policing improvements, immigration modernisation, safeguarding, economic promotion, as well as supporting community-based improvement projects.

Now is not the time to lose faith. Now is the time to re-double our efforts. The fibre optic cable, new wind and solar farms and sorting out Rupert’s are on the horizon. Investors are out there to be encouraged. Niche diving, fishing, nature and history tourism will take root where we package it attractively and the Napoleon Bicentenary will showcase our Island globally. New business opportunities with the arrival of affordable high speed internet will be there to exploit and golf, spa and smart developments for well-to-do paying clientele have been proposed. I see us on the cusp of improvement not the cusp of decline. With a positive outlook we can make the first path the generator of a bold future for St Helena. The latter one has no place here.

Governor Dr Philip Rushbrook

The Statistics Office will be conducting the second annual Business Survey from mid-September to end-October. The first survey was conducted in 2018 and the results have been widely used to better understand the economy and business environment on St Helena.

The 2019 version of the Business Survey has been streamlined, and the short survey has two parts: Schedule A, which includes questions related to the business environment and employment, and Schedule B, which includes questions on income and expenses. Sole traders (i.e. businesses with no employees apart from the owner) will need only to complete a shorter version of Schedule A, and will not be required to complete Schedule B. The survey should take less than 15 minutes to complete.

The survey fieldwork will start on Monday, 16 September, and is expected to take around six weeks. It will be conducted within the legal framework of the 2000 Statistics Ordinance and, like the 2018 Business Survey, all businesses with employees are legally required to complete the survey. Statistics Officers will conduct the fieldwork, including contacting businesses, distributing and collecting questionnaires, and helping businesses to complete the survey. Thanks are extended to the St Helena business community for their cooperation.

Businesses may complete either a paper questionnaire or an online form, which can be accessed via the following link:  https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/SH-2019-Business-Survey.

The information provided on the questionnaires will be treated with strict confidence, and will be used only for the purpose of compiling statistics to be published in accordance with the protocols laid out in the 2000 Statistics Ordinance.

For more information, or to request a questionnaire or an email link to the online survey, please contact the Statistics Office on tel: 22138 or by email: statistics@sainthelena.gov.sh.

#StHelena #Statistics #BusinessSurvey2019

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SHG
12 September 2019

In a Proclamation issued today, Wednesday 11 September 2019, Governor Dr Philip Rushbrook has announced that a Bye-election to fill the vacant seat on Legislative Council (following the recent resignation of Kylie Hercules on 31 August) will take place on Wednesday, 27 November 2019.

The public is reminded that to vote in the Bye-election or to stand for election to Legislative Council your name must be on the Register of Electors.

A window of opportunity is being given to members of the public whose names are not included in the Register of Electors dated 1 July 2019 to have their names added to the Register. Persons wishing to take part in the Bye-election and whose names are not yet on the Register of Electors, should make an application to the Registration Officer on the prescribed form by 4pm on Friday, 20 September 2019.

Forms can be obtained from the Registration Officer at the Castle (tel: 22470) or from the Post & Customer Services Centre. The forms can also be downloaded from the SHG website via: http://www.sainthelena.gov.sh/forms/.

Remember – you can only apply to be registered if you are:

  • 17 years of age or older with St Helena as your ordinary place of residence
  • Have St Helenian Status as defined in the Immigration Ordinance, 2011.

#StHelena #Bye-Election #RegisterOfElectors

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SHG

11 September 2019

St Helena’s water consumption levels on 3, 5, 6 and 7 September were less than 1000 cubic metres – the consumption rate required to sustain a safe level of stored water on the Island. All residents are praised for their efforts in reducing their water usage.

Despite some recent rainfall, the surface water runoff has not increased which means that very little or no surface water is entering the Island’s reservoirs. Isolated showers are forecast for the coming days, but this will not be enough to see the desired effects on the reservoir levels. At least two weeks of continuous meaningful rainfall is needed to make a positive difference in reservoir levels.

The raw water catchment at Osbornes in St Paul’s is completely dry and there has not been any surface runoff in this area since March 2019. This water catchment is one of the main sources of surface water for the Red Hill reservoirs, producing around 90 cubic metres per day. Osbornes has been known to produce water all year round, including during the summer period, but is now completely depleted.

Although there is water present in the Harpers 2 (H2) Earth Dam (see photos below), H2 is still classified as empty as the current water volume (dead storage) is under the outlet pipe.

Connect Saint Helena (CSH) continues to pump water from Chubb’s Spring and Hutt’s Gate to Red Hill to replenish stocks in this area.

With the St Helena Summer and peak season for visitors just around the corner it is important that we continue to cut down our water usage to essential use only.

Remember, if you see anyone using water irresponsibly or notice a burst pipe or leak, then please inform CSH immediately.

 Every drop counts, every action counts – save water now to be safe later.

Harpers 2 Earth Dam (September 2018)
Harpers 2 Earth Dam (September 2019)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#StHelena #WaterShortage #EveryDropCounts  

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St Helena Resilience Forum

11 September 2019

The monthly meeting of the Economic Development Committee took place on Thursday, 22 August 2019, and the following is a summary of the main items discussed:

Enterprise St Helena (ESH) presented their Progress and Performance Report for July 2019, and gave a brief update in relation to items in progress. In particular it was noted that ESH had been given permission to make public the DFID Annual Review Report, where they had received an ‘A’ rating for 2018/19. The revised Grants Policy had been endorsed by the ESH Board and the Business Development Team will be commencing a promotional campaign in relation to this in September. The ESH Board had also approved a funding proposal for further DNA testing of the Island’s bees, with a view to increasing future opportunities in this particular area of agricultural production. The Tourism Office staff had been undertaking local promotional activity relating to travel show attendance, in particular Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) in London. Work continues on the new Investor Prospectus and ESH had also been assisting Paul O’Sullivan, as noted in the recent joint press release between Saint Helena Corporation, Solomon & Company (St Helena) Plc, and Enterprise St Helena. On the projects front, the pavement works behind the Canister were complete and design work was underway in relation to the next Zone to be progressed, which would include siting of the replica fountain.

The Environment Natural Resources & Planning Directorate made a presentation on a draft Fisheries Management Policies Statement and Fishing Licensing Policy.  These policies are being proposed to help ensure our fishing activities and the fisheries upon which such activities depend is managed within a sustainable framework that provides benefits for current and future generations. Fishing licensing is intended to bring fishing in line with other sectors benefitting through use of the Island’s natural resources. Licensing of all boat fishing and all spearfishing activities (including for inshore fish species) is being proposed with related fish catch limits, and is a key change to current fishing practices. Licensing is not being proposed for rock-fishing as this is recognised as being a traditional form of fishing activity which fisheries stakeholders would like to encourage in its current form, providing fish catches are for personal consumption and not for sale.

A reform of fisheries legislation is planned to provide a robust regulatory basis for management of the fisheries and both policies will help to inform and provide direction for the necessary changes to the legislation.

Associated targeted and public consultations for the policies were discussed and after much discussion and suggested amendments to the draft documents, the Committee approved the policies for public consultation.  A summary of all feedback received through this exercise will be provided to the Economic Development Committee for their consideration as part of the process of updating the policies and their adoption.

The Committee also endorsed the draft Labour Market Strategy to be issued for public consultation. The consultation period will run from 2 September to 11 October 2019 and will include meetings for employers and the general public.

#StHelena #EconomicDevelopment #MeetingSummary

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SHG

11 September 2019

As part of the Children & Adults Social Care Directorate’s ‘CARE’: Caring And Respecting Everyone Campaign, an open-door recruitment event will be held at the Princess Royal Community Care Centre (CCC) on Friday, 20 September 2019, from 11am-2.30pm.

This event will allow interested persons to talk with Directorate staff, learn more about working in Social Care, and explore a typical day in the life of a Carer and Support Worker. Interviews will take place on the same day.

Quality Assurance & Policy Lead, Gavin (Jack) Thomas, said:

“This is our third consecutive recruitment event in recent months. We take this opportunity of thanking everyone who has supported the CARE Campaign since its launch. We are also very encouraged by the numbers of people who have been appointed as a result of recent recruitment events; we wish them every success, along with established staff, in building and sustaining our vision for providing person-centred care and support.

 “Anyone who is empathetic towards people’s feelings, is passionate about making a difference, and willing to work as part of a team, should come along and find out more about current and future vacancies in Social Care.”

If you are unable to attend the open-door recruitment event but would like to make an appointment to discuss career opportunities in Social Care, please contact Lisa Thomas at Brick House on tel: (00 290) 22713.

 

Notes to Editor

The Children & Adults Social Care Directorate has various vacancies across residential services supporting older people, services for adults with additional needs, sheltered housing services, and community services. The CARE Campaign aims to recruit local carers for the residential services, and for individuals requiring support in maintaining a degree of independence and quality of life both in sheltered services and in the community.

#StHelena # Children&Adults #SocialCare #CARE #CCC

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SHG

10 September 2019

The monthly meeting of the Education Committee took place on Wednesday, 21 August 2019.

Returning Scholarship students – David Clarke, Jordan Clingham and Kyle Shoesmith – who had all passed their degree programmes with first class honours were invited to the meeting where they gave feedback to the Committee on their experiences while studying in the United Kingdom.  All three highly commended the opportunity awarded to students to study abroad through scholarships and also highlighted some areas for possible improvement. The Committee was informed that there was no real incentive for students to return to the Island after completing university except that they were bonded. It was recommended that a road map outlining progression prospects at work on the Island for university graduates be developed. The students urged the Education Committee to encourage graduates to take the option of spending an extra year in the United Kingdom upon completion of degree programmes in order to gain work experience, which is an essential component to their career development and work delivery on the Island. They also felt it was important for outgoing students to be practically exposed to their chosen field of study on the Island prior to leaving for university, urging the Education Committee to assist students to get this exposure within local companies.

The recently recruited Educational Psychologist, Margaret Banks, made a presentation to the Committee highlighting some of the methods she intend to employ in working with children and young people on the Island to improve their socio-economic outcomes. Margaret will start work next term at Prince Andrew School and comes at a time when the Directorate is in great need of her expertise.

#StHelena #Education #MeetingSummary

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SHG

10 September 2019

St Helena Government is currently seeking views from the public on a Policy Statement for Management of St Helena’s Fisheries and a Policy for the Licensing of Fishing Activities in St Helena’s Waters. Public Consultation closes on Friday, 13 September 2019.

Two consultation meetings targeted to the different stakeholder groups will take place as follows:

  • Recreational fishing meeting:

Canister Conference Room (upstairs) on Wednesday, 11 September 2019, at 4.30pm

  • Drop-in surgery for the public to ask questions/discuss documents:

Essex House Conference Room on Thursday, 12 September 2019, from 3pm to 6pm

Electronic copies of the draft policies can be found on the Publications page of the SHG website at: http://www.sainthelena.gov.sh/publications/.

Hard copies are also available from the Scotland and Essex House Office Receptions. Further information can be obtained from the Senior Fisheries Officer, Gerald Benjamin, on tel: 24724 or email: gerald.benjamin@sainthelena.gov.sh.

Please send your comments to Gerald Benjamin via the above email address by 4pm on Friday, 13 September 2019.

A summary of all feedback received through this exercise will be provided to the Economic Development Committee for their consideration as part of the process of updating the policies and their recommendation for adoption.

 SHG

9 September 2019

http://www.sainthelena.gov.sh

A new draft Labour Market Strategy (LMS) has been developed for St Helena and is now out for public consultation until Friday, 11 October 2019.

The draft LMS is organised around three key goals:

  • Resolving inequities, both real and perceived, in St Helena’s labour market
  • Increasing the working age population on St Helena and
  • Preparing the workforce to meet the vision laid out in the Sustainable Economic Development Plan.

The Economic Development Committee will hold the following consultation meetings for all members of the public. Each meeting will start at 7pm:

Venue

Date

HTH Community Centre Monday, 9 September
Harford Community Centre Wednesday, 11 September

A public consultation meeting for employers will also take place on Tuesday, 24 September, at the Jamestown Community Centre, starting at 7pm.

The draft LMS is available on the Publications page of the SHG website: http://www.sainthelena.gov.sh/publications/. Hard copies are available at the Public Library and Customer Service Centre in Jamestown.

You can also share your opinions by completing a short online questionnaire via: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/VYQ5PR8 or send an email to the Senior Economist, Amanda Brown, via: Amanda.Brown@sainthelena.gov.sh.

#StHelena #EconomicDevelopment #LabourMarketStrategy #SEDP

SHG