25 June 2018
During the latest round of Councillors’ Constituency Meetings in April 2018, a number of issues were raised by the public on different topics.
Over the next few weeks, each Council Committee will be providing responses to the issues raised during the meetings. This week the focus is on Economic Development with responses provided by the Economic Development Committee (EDC).
Sustainable Economic Development Plan (SEDP)
What is the main purpose of the SEDP?
The SEDP is a live document and sets out the Island’s plan to deal with development over the life of the document and what SHG will do in support of the actions set out in the plan.
The SEDP is good but unfortunately there are unfinished jobs such as Rupert’s Wharf
Work on Rupert’s Wharf is ongoing and SHG is committed to making Rupert’s a fully functional Port.
Why reduce duty on fruit and vegetables, will this defeat the purpose of trying to help farmers?
No, we expect to support farmers by helping them to work more closely with Importers so that when there is sufficient local produce then Importers will not import the same produce. Key to making this successful is both parties working together and sharing the risks. Reducing the duty on imported goods will ensure that when there is no local produce those on low income can also afford to purchase.
Insufficient information on the rationale behind increasing Taxes has been given to the public
Each year, SHG has to balance its budget and show that we are collecting our share of taxes, hence we look across a range of goods and services to support this. This year we also looked very closely at sugary goods. This is in support of encouraging healthy lifestyles to coincide with other health initiatives and address some of the acute chronic diseases we have on-Island which is using a considerable amount of money from our Health budget. Most of these chronic diseases are treatable if we lead a healthier lifestyle. Money saved on treatment can go to other causes such as raising the level of the benefits systems. This can only be achieved if we all work together.
Enterprise St Helena
Is the Pack House at Longwood a waste of money if we don’t have sufficient vegetables to store there?
The Pack House was identified as a need by the sector in 2010, if not before, and as a result of the South Africa Agriculture Exposure Visit in 2013. It is an effective use of resources given the derelict site prior to the Longwood Enterprise Park initiative, which was generating no trade or profitable opportunities for the area and the Island. More critically, the Pack House, quite rightly, serves as an incentive, driver and essential supply- (cold) chain necessity for increased arable production i.e. it is an enabler and the farmers now have a storage and distribution point to fill/maximise for everybody’s benefit. It is up to the operator and the producers to make the Pack House work, and is the same principle of taking your product to town if there is space to accommodate. The added benefit of having the Pack House is that it is specifically designed to wash, prep, store and distribute in a more ideal environment/building, and will support a longer shelf-life for all produce. Again, this enables producers to produce. Additionally, the Pack House should save farmers time, effort and costs associated with taking their product to market, which is an added benefit.
A Saint passenger had been held back in Johannesburg for a week because they could not check-in due to not having a hard copy of their travel/medical insurance and the electronic copy they held was not accepted
When flights to St Helena started it was determined that hard copies of travel/medical insurance were required. This is no longer the case. Electronic copies that can be viewed by the boarding clerks in Johannesburg and by the Immigration Service staff on St Helena are now accepted.
This change has been in practice for several weeks and is monitored by the Immigration Service. Should there be any concerns, a system has been established to allow the boarding clerks to contact the St Helena Immigration Service during the boarding process. This should remove any issues associated with the production of travel/medical insurance.
What control does SHG have over the MV Helena schedule? Can this be reviewed as they always seem to be missing the transhipments?
SHG in partnership with AWSML have the ability to amend the schedule where necessary to do so. The issue of the transhipment is not directly attributable to the MV Helena schedule but more down to the changes that the container carriers have made recently in that they have by-passed the call at Cape Town on the way up to the East Coast and calling into Cape Town only when the vessel returns.
As a result of this, AWSML discussed with SHG and the Chamber of Commerce the possibility of bringing forward the receiving dates in the UK by one week in order to ensure the goods either arrive in Cape Town one week earlier or, in a case where the container carrier does not call at Cape Town, there would be sufficient time in the schedule for a delayed departure from Cape Town without impacting on the forward schedule of the MV Helena.
Following these discussions, it was agreed for all UK transhipment dates to be brought forward by one week to allow export cargo to be loaded on an earlier sailing. Therefore, if the transhipment vessel omits Cape Town, time will be available for the ship to return and deliver the cargo in time for the intended sailing of the MV Helena. Should the transhipment vessel call at Cape Town as planned, cargo will be securely stored ready to be loaded on board the MV Helena for the intended voyage. Costs of this storage will be met by AWSML and will not be passed onto customers.
Due to cargo already booked, this arrangement will start from Voyage 8 and the schedule has been updated on the St Helena Shipping website to reflect this.
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Economic Development Committee
25 June 2018