13 December 2023
The annual Financial Aid Mission (FAM) to St Helena took place last week from Monday 4 December to Friday 8 December 2023.
The UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) FAM delegation were expected to arrive on Saturday 2 December. However following delays due to poor weather conditions, they arrived on-Island on Tuesday 5 December. Due to their delayed arrival, some of these discussions took place virtually.
During the week the delegation undertook extensive discussions with ministers, elected members, government officials and representatives of the private sector. Discussions focused on recurrent funding for the financial year 2024/5, identifying particular areas of budget pressure, such as increasing demands on the health service and the reducing tax receipts as a result of a declining working age population. These discussions also covered the budget prioritisation process and the partnership between FCDO and SHG.
SHG held a press conference last Friday with the FAM Delegation and local media. The event took place in the Governor’s Office with His Excellency Governor Nigel Phillips, Chief Minister Julie Thomas and Deputy Director of FCDO’s Overseas Territories and Polar Directorate Adam Pile, sitting on the panel. The press conference can be viewed online via www.youtube.com/@sthelenagovernment1638.
Reflecting on the visit, Chief Minister Julie Thomas commented:
“As in previous years, the discussions that took place last week are crucial to St Helena and will help us to determine where the monies available can be best focused to deliver this Government’s key strategic objectives. Our ambition remains to create a sustainable operating environment that creates opportunity and inspires social and economic progress, ensuring a better quality of life for all. We recognise the financial pressures the UK Government faces, many of which we face ourselves. We will continue to work closely with colleagues in FCDO to finalise a financial aid settlement that ensures we can continue to deliver the public services on which people rely, whilst also seeking to grow our economy to improve the prospects for all.”
Deputy Director of FCDO’s Overseas Territories and Polar Directorate Adam Pile, said:
“It has been a good week on St Helena meeting with Ministers, Elected Members, the public service, the CPA, businesses and arms-length bodies. We have a strong working relationship with the Chief Minister and her team – we are committed to making the new Ministerial system a success to enable local decision making and local accountability. The UK Government provides around 65% of the annual recurrent budget which rose to £33.06 million last year, almost double what it was in 2014. We’ve seen great progress made by SHG over the last year on the health system, telecoms, and much more. Aside from the work on budgetary support, it’s fantastic to see progress made with the £30 million capital investment programme notably nearing the completion of Rupert’s port, the pending arrival of a new CT scanner, alongside the pipeline of other projects. Thanks for the warm welcome. “
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