Exco Report – Tuesday 15 October 2019

Executive Council met today, Tuesday 15 October 2019, to discuss one item on the Open Agenda.

Council approves recommended changes to the Ship Registry Policy with priority given to changes in provisions regarding the registry of yachts and pleasure vessels and a change in fees

Following a presentation by Councillor Lawson Henry, Chairman of the Economic Development Committee (EDC), Council was asked to consider and advise whether the recommended changes to the Ship Registry Policy should be approved as follows:

  • For yachts and pleasure vessels to no longer require applicants from foreign companies/persons to have ‘a close economic connection with the island’ defined as a minimum investment of £500,000 unless a smaller investment offers the potential for significant long-term benefits
  • For fishing and commercial vessels to change the definition of ‘a close economic connection with the island’ to refer to ‘a minimum investment of £250,000 unless a smaller investment offers the potential for significant long-term benefits’
  • For yachts and pleasure vessels ONLY to extend the list of countries from which applications from foreign companies/persons can be accepted to include countries permitted in other Red Ensign registries
  • A change in fees to come more in line with other Red Ensign registries.

The Chief Economist explained that one of the potential growth sectors of the Sustainable Economic Development Plan (SEDP) was the Ship Registry, building on the Island’s maritime history and the fact that St Helena is a Red Ensign Registry.

The difficulties to achieving this growth is that the current policy is very restrictive in terms of registering a vessel which is why we have very few vessels registering on St Helena. Two of the particular barriers have been in relation to the list of countries from which applications can be accepted and the other the requirement of a close economic connection to the Island defined as a minimum investment of £500,000 unless a smaller investment offers the potential for significant long-term benefits.

The changes to the Policy sought to address these issues.

Discussion ensued around new fees proposed and whether they represented full cost recovery. Council was assured that a comparison of fees had been undertaken with other Red Ensign registries and the fees charged by St Helena Government are on par with other countries’ fees. It was agreed that the fees may still be low in some categories but this will be kept under review as part of the annual budgeting process.

Questions were also raised around surveying and whose responsibility it is to complete the necessary ship surveys for registration. Council was advised that it is the Ship owner’s responsibility to pay for the survey and the surveyors used are those registered with the Maritime Coastguard Agency (MCA).

Marketing was also discussed but at this stage it was agreed that, until the appropriate Maritime legislation is in place and the UK audit is complete, further details on how to register a ship would only be provided on the SHG website. Once the legislation update has been completed a full marketing exercise will be considered in order to attract more registrations.

Members were reassured that there were no substantive additional liabilities and risks from changing the Ship Registry Policy and were reminded that the reason for not making any substantive changes to the policy for fishing vessels and commercial vessels is a result of the risks highlighted by not having yet reformed St Helena’s Maritime legislation. Specifically, St Helena is planning to develop regulations dealing with safety, crew and pollution prevention measures related to fishing vessels.

Members recognised that the Policy is well overdue for review and is a positive step forward in generating more revenue for the Island. It was therefore agreed to revise and broaden the applicability of our Shipping Register in a modest way and in line with other Red Ensign jurisdictions.

The Policy would be reviewed in the near future subject to the outcome of the continuing work of the MCA to meeting the conditions of the UK audit.

ExCo

15 October 2019

St Helena Government Press Office

Telephone: 22470
Email: liam.yon@sainthelena.gov.sh