Executive Council met today, Tuesday 4March 2014, with one item on the open agenda.

Council was asked to consider amending the Interpretations Ordinance definition of an Audit, to raise the threshold for bodies requiring an International Standard on Auditing (ISA) approved audit.

This arose out of a concern from the Public Accounts Committee that some Government-funded bodies could be charged for a full ISA approved audit because of their income level.  Any agency in receipt of Government funds is required to be audited, but as more agencies are reaching the holdings threshold for a more comprehensive ISA approved audit, they are facing additional financial costs.  The purpose of the amendment was to raise the holdings threshold to bring it more into line with UK standards for Charitable Organisations.

Executive Council agreed the recommendation to amend the Ordinance as this will be a positive benefit to those Government-funded bodies – while still providing appropriate and sufficient safeguards for monitoring Government expenditure. The amended Bill will now go forward as Government Business to Formal Legislative Council on 21 March 2014.

On the closed agenda, the Appropriation Bill 2014/15 was presented to Executive Council. The Appropriation Bill had been discussed extensively by Legislative Council and Executive Council agreed that the Bill also be presented as Government Business at the next Formal Legislative Council.

The next item was an amendment to the Customs Regulations.  This was in relation to the importation of substances known as ‘legal highs’ (referring to psychoactive substances).  The description of ‘legal highs’ is a misnomer, leading some people to believe that because these substances are not illegal then they are safe to use.  This is not so – they can pose very serious health risks – and there is a suggestion that these substances are being brought into St Helena.  The amended Regulations would prohibit the import of psychoactive substances that have not been prescribed by a doctor.  This is an important public safety issue as at present it is legal to import and sell these substances.  That represents an unacceptable risk to the people of St Helena and so Executive Council approved the amended Regulations.

The meeting closed with a tribute to former Councillor, William (Bill) Drabble.  Executive Council, on behalf of Legislative Council, wished to remember Bill’s service to St Helena.  Bill served for 20 years and represented St Helena at a number of international conferences and meetings.  As current members of Legislative Council noted, Bill’s death reminds us that we are building on the foundations of those who have gone before us.

The meeting ended at 11:30am.

ExCo

4 March 2014

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