The Economic Development Committee held its monthly meeting on Thursday, 2 November 2017. The following matters were discussed on the Open Agenda:

An update from the Environment & Natural Resources Directorate on the recently introduced Water Subsidy Policy for farmers showed that 21 applications had been received of which 14 have been approved to receive a subsidy.

Enterprise St Helena (ESH) delivered a report for the month of September. Whilst offshore, the Director of Commercial Development & Enterprise attended Reading Sports to promote ESH and opportunities on the Island to St Helenians based in the UK.  At the time, air services had not been finalised. There was some interest from individuals who were considering returning when the air service becomes established.

From the new Social Enterprise Support Policy, ESH received 12 initial enquiries, with three formal applications having been approved. The team is also pursuing involvement in assisting SHG with developing investor friendly policies, however this is subject to prioritisation of the Legislative Programme now that the new Legislative Council has been formed.  Additionally, the team has offered to support the development of legislation relating to disability, which is being championed by SHAPE.

Items discussed with the Airport Contracts Manager were charter flights & operations and the Open Skies Policy.  The Air Access Office and the Airport are fully committed to accepting and assisting developing charter flights & operations subject to the Prior Permission Requirements for the Category C operations being met and the granting of a Flight Operations Permit by the Governor.

There have been several such operations in the 18 months the Airport has been operational.

Due to the stringent Extended Twin Operations Performance (ETOPS) requirements, which requires sterilisation of the Airport and extended airspace for long periods of time, only one ETOPS flight can currently be accepted on any one day. The latter does not apply to 3 and 4 engine aircraft.

As explained in the charter flights & operations paragraph above, the Air Access Office and the Airport will accept, subject to any operational condition, any aircraft capable of operating into and out of St Helena. This, however, is not the same as Open Skies that Europe, the UK and United States have. In reality, at this moment in time, St Helena could not achieve Open Sky Status since it is an Overseas Territory (OT) and subject to the regulations that apply thereto. It would be dependent on the UK Department for Transport (DfT), as the ‘parent’ sponsor to negotiate bi-lateral rights between two points. Additionally, St Helena is not a signatory state, nor can it be, to the ICAO Chicago Convection. We rely on the DfT to represent all the OTs at ICAO.

However, some OTs, like Bermuda and Turks & Caicos, have formed their own Directorates of Civil Aviation. This brings greater independence and the ability to formulate one’s own Civil Aviation Regulations. Doing as above is not a cheap process, is lengthy and will, for several years, require the buying in of appropriate skills, experience and expertise. An aircraft registry such as in Bermuda and Jersey and Guernsey in the Channel Islands can be very lucrative, but the costs, timescale and workload involved cannot be underestimated.

The Bank of St Helena also provided members with an update of the local debit card project which is currently on trial and is due to be officially rolled out on 1 December 2017. The Bank outlined why there were transactional fees for businesses and highlighted the benefits of the local debit cards to both customers and businesses alike. They also advised that no cost would be applied by the Bank for personal customers who used the local debit card.

The preceding week, the Bank of St Helena had also provided an overview of works that have been undertaken in respect of electronic payments systems/international card acceptance to enable a sound basis for business growth opportunities on St Helena. It was demonstrated that a number of options have been considered but have proven to be unviable at this time, however the Bank continues to remain focused on its vital role in satisfying customer demands and expectations. In meeting these expectations, a number of potential shortcomings and barriers have been identified which includes cost, market size, jurisdiction and minimal business opportunity for investing partners. In light of this, the Bank also highlighted a local innovative measure that could assist with work that is currently progressing. 

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7 November 2017





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