8 September 2020
- EDC agrees to hold September monthly meeting at Kingshurst Community Centre
- ANRD researching the possibility of being able to import a batch of day-old-chicks via the next UK to St Helena flight
- Committee considers an Options Paper to secure SHG support for commercial fishermen to store frozen fish for up to three months
The monthly meeting of the Economic Development Committee (EDC) took place on Thursday, 27 August 2020, and the following is a summary of the main items discussed:
Enterprise St Helena (ESH) presented an overview of their progress and performance as at the end of July. Mention was made of the ongoing support from ESH to St Helena Government (SHG) via the administration of the current COVID-19 hardship support to the business community plus providing passenger handling services for the chartered flights. During July, St Helena appeared on Sky News which included a pre-recorded video of Jonathan the tortoise and a live interview with the Director of Tourism. This was a huge achievement as this was the first time St Helena was able to connect live with a TV Programme in the UK using cell phone technology. It was advised that the upgraded St Helena Tourism website would be launched during August and the Island would also be appearing at the virtual Bird Fair. It was also noted that during the month the Tourist Office received 690 enquiries and most related to questions around when people would be able to travel to St Helena.
EDC agreed to hold their September monthly meeting during the evening at Kinghurst Community Centre at the request of constituents. Arrangements are in hand for Tuesday, 15 September.
During the Closed Session, a Member raised the issue of local egg producers not being able to sell the level of local eggs as hoped due to import of eggs from South Africa. Members were provided with background information from the Environment, Natural Resources & Planning Directorate (ENR&P) who are in contact with four merchants importing eggs as to the reasons for their imports for retail over the last two visits of the MV Helena. The reasons for the imports in July and August included the shortage experienced in local eggs during May/June of this year and a failure to have adequate information from local producers as to their production over the next few months, bearing in mind the four to six week lead-in time required by South Africa suppliers to meet the supply needs of local merchants. Members were advised that all four merchants indicated that they would not import eggs if local supplies could meet their needs and producers communicated well in advance with them as to their planned production on a quarterly or six-monthly basis, so that they are able to meet the needs of the community.
ENR&P was able to advise the Committee that their Agriculture & Natural Resources Division (ANRD) was researching the possibility of being able to import a batch of day-old-chicks via the next UK to St Helena flight as a number of the medium-large scale egg producers had made requests to ANRD over the last three months to have replacement layers brought in as soon as possible, in order to be ready for production in early 2021 to ensure their production levels can be maintained.
EDC considered an Options Paper to secure SHG support for commercial fishermen to store frozen fish for up to three months in support of supplying the local market if fish catches allow. The current SHG fish processing arrangement does not allow for frozen fish storage and so this request was for the Committee to advise whether SHG should support the additional cost to be incurred for reefer hire, reefer security and electricity costs. The option to provide for up to two reefers for the three-month period with commercial fishermen taking responsibility for sale of their fish (as is currently in place) was approved subject to EDC being able to identify funding for the storage arrangement.
8 September 2020