Falklands : FIRS THROWS THE SPOTLIGHT ON TIM THOROGOOD AND DAVID WAUGH
Submitted by Falkland Islands News Network (Juanita Brock) 30.06.2011 (Article Archived on 14.07.2011)
A review of the Falkland Islands Development Corporation has been taking place in recent months. On todayís programme I will be talking about the review with FIG Chief Executive, Tim Thorogood (TT) and FIDC General Manager, David Waugh (DW). To begin with, on todayís programme, Tim Thorogood said his work on the review has taken some tome to complete.
FIRS THROWS THE SPOTLIGHT ON TIM THOROGOOD AND DAVID WAUGH
A Report for FIRS by Stacey Bragger (SB) 15 June 2011
SB: A review of the Falkland Islands Development Corporation has been taking place in recent months. On todayís programme I will be talking about the review with FIG Chief Executive, Tim Thorogood (TT) and FIDC General Manager, David Waugh (DW). To begin with, on todayís programme, Tim Thorogood said his work on the review has taken some tome to complete.
TT: The review, in fact, goes back to 2008 and I was originally tasked by elected Members at that time to conduct a review of FIDC. It arose, really from a general feeling that it was no longer clear what FIDC was for necessarily and some question marks about whether it was operating effectively so there was a degree of general concern and I think thatís what prompted Members to ask me to conduct the review.
SB: David, from your experience so far with FIDC, what are your thoughts on the role of the Development Corporation, what it should be and how it has changed from when you first arrived here?
DW: Stacey, I think that the Corporation should be what it says on the tin Ė the National Economic Development Agency for the economy of the Islands. When I arrived here in late January 2009, we didnít have a framework for the development of the economy other than the Islandsí Plan and Iíd like to think that FIDC since then has played a hopefully significant participatory role in many other people and organisations in getting us to the point where we are now where we have an economic Development Strategy; we have a Rural Development Strategy and we have a Tourism Development Strategy, thereby setting the framework for taking the economy forward in an understandable and rational way. I am hoping now that moving from strategic work to delivery of those strategies should be the principle role of FIDC going forwards.
SB: Going back to the review, Tim, how did you carry out the review?
TT: The review goes back to 2008 but it wasnít until 2010 that I was able to get going on it seriously because things like elections and new General Managers got in the way initially. First of all, I did what I call an informative phase and I polled interested groups like the FIDC Board, the Chamber of Commerce and so on just to get their views on what they thought the issues were, strengths and weaknesses, possible solutions and then I spent the last year trying to mould those into what I thought would be a workable set of proposals that dealt with some of the issues to be sorted. I took a report to Executive Council in January this year with those proposals, which Executive Council then Ďblessedí for the purpose of consultation. So since January I have gone through a further round of consultation but this time based on some firm proposals and that consultation finishes this week and I plan to go to Executive Council in July with some final proposals.
SB: So, what have been the key issues that have arisen from the consultation?
TT: Itís been extremely useful because over a lot of things there has been consensus. There are some diversions of view on a couple specific points. First of all, there has been a very strong consensus that FIDC or a similar organisation is actually needed here in the Falkland Islands. There was some debate early on about whether Government could simply do the sort of things that FIDC does but I think most people felt that wasnít really going to work and you needed a semi-independent body that could straddle the distance to the private sector to make that work effectively. In the end I think there was a consensus that we needed FIDC or something similar as a separate body.
There was also a lot of consensus about what the role of FIDC should be IE focus on economic development and fill the gaps that exist between Government making policy and legislation on the one hand, the private sector getting on with its independent business activities on the other, resolving a gap with say, for example some projects that possibly get too risky for the private sector to take on; sometimes gaps in financing, developing overseas trade links that require expenditure not necessarily a profit. A large numbers of gaps are identified. I think most people are happy that those exist and FIDC should try and fill them. But, there was a recognition that things havenít necessarily been working fully effectively.
One particular element of that was the Board of FIDC and I think most people would accept that in recent times it hadnít been necessarily firing on all four cylinders at all times. Peopleís analysis of why that is differs to some extent but there was a strong feeling that part of the equation needed to be more autonomy for FIDC including more autonomy from Government.
So the big issues that emerged that were more debateable; and were really how do you make FIDC more autonomous as there is a strong opinion it should be but how do you achieve that? Bear in mind, of course, Stacey, it is public money, so the Government canít simply hand in the money and ask FIDC to get on with it. I think we could all see that; and also how, exactly to alert the Board in a way that allows it to work more independently and possibly more effectively.
SB: What have the conclusions of your review been?
TT: Following on from that, first of all I recommended in January Ė and Iím going to continue to recommend fairly firmly Ė that FIDC should remain. Itís filling an important role in an effective way; and also that it should have a similar remit, which these days really is a basic turn to implement the Economic Development Strategy.
I am recommending that it has great autonomy from Government and thatís quite complicated to try and capture that in a form or words but basically what I am suggesting is that Government should lose its power, which is in the current ordinance to direct FIDC in general and instead Governmentís relationship with FIDC should focus on agreeing a business plan and agreeing its budget. And having agreed a business plan, Government should than allow FIDC to get on with the job and stand back. Iíve got a number of very specific wordings for legislation that could achieve that.
The other final recommendation is really about the composition of the Board, which as I have indicated has been quite a lot of debate about. Itís been a very good debate, a very constructive and helpful debate and a lot of good points were made that I certainly hadnít necessarily seen initially.
What I had originally proposed was that the current system whereby everyone on FIDC Board represents another organisation. I represent the Government, Elected Members represent the Government, thereís a representative from the Chamber of Commerce, one from FIFCA and so on. I was suggesting that really, to try and make the Board look more independent, that perhaps instead of that there could be reduced numbers of Councillors, perhaps the Chief Executive didnít have to be on the board at all or at least in the long run and that other members should be appointed through an open process on merit and therefore can exist independently.
Thatís caused a lot of debate and I think in fairness people have seen why thatís been suggested but the down side of that is you lose the ability of people to connect with key industrial sectors. So where I am going to end up is I am going to recommend to Executive Council next month that a mixed model, which has some independent members appointed on merits and others that represent certain industrial sectors. I am hopeful that people will be reasonably content with that.
SB: David, what are your thoughts on these conclusions of how the Development Corporation should go forward?
DW: I think that Tim has said them out very cogently and very well and we generally agree with him Ė both myself and the team at FIDC. Itís a difficult role for any agency to be sitting in that middle ground between the public and the private sector. I fully agree that it needs to sit in that middle ground. It canít be fully privatised and it shouldnít in my view, be fully on the public side. So there needs to be some structure that works and the most important thing for us at FIDC is that we are fit for purpose because we are now moving more and more towards becoming a delivery agency as I said earlier. And we need our structure to relate to that, so it is form and function. We are now talking about what the form should be, having established particularly at the FIDB meeting what our function will be going forwards in delivery. So we are pretty comfortable at the moment with the way things are going in the review.
SB: I think many people commented in the past that FIDC has been seen as a dumping ground for projects that Government doesnít really want and nobody else wants to get involved in? Do you think thatís been a problem in the past that you have things forced upon you?
DW: I would certainly say that FIDC has often been asked to assist Government in taking forward certain activities or projects or other items and that hasnít helped with the minimal resources that we have. We did agree yesterday that we will go forward on a fixed number of activities on projects, all of which accord with the EDS, the RDS and the TDS. And I think thatís going to work and the way Tim is going to propose structuring and restructuring the way FIDC works would enable our form to follow what our function is going to be.
SB: This project seems to be in the national interest rather than economic value. Do you think FIDC should be tackling things on a more viable basis?
DW: I think it has to do that but I would also point out that in general projects that are in the national interest also have a consequential value., whether it be economic, quality of life or usually both. So in some cases FIDC will work on some of the activities we discussed yesterday and agreed on yesterday. We will work with Government, the Chamber of Commerce, the private sector and other organisations to consider the rationale to investing in certain projects on the basis of a cost benefit analysis. In a sense, in my view, we need to be thinking of looking at infrastructure projects for example, more at investment of public money than simply as a cost of public money into a project. There may well be a rationale for investing in such a project because the benefit over 20 years for 25 years or 15 years will substantially exceed the cost.
SB: Tim, whatís the next stage after Executive Council in July? When do you expect these changes, if they are approved, to go into effect?
TT: I suspect itís going to take just about the rest of the year if those proposals are approved to write the necessary legislation, write all the very detailed orders that would need to go along with that legislation and, frankly to do some more consultation with important elements in the community about some of the small print because that does matter. So I would expect that with a fair wind that a final set of legislation would appear pretty much towards the end of the year and then very early next year we will be able to reconstitute the Board and carry out all the other changes which hopefully will be agreed. So probably February or March next year people will see real changes happening on the ground.
SB: Do you think this will help the Development Corporation achieve more of its aims?
TT: I am, and lets be fair, things have already been changing Ė continuing to change. I think back in 2008 FIDC had been through a bit of a funny stage in its history. Things have changed since then. David himself made a big difference to that. And we have the Economic Development Strategy, which now gives pretty clear direction for everybody in the community for economic development. Thatís made a big difference. And in fairness, also, my own view and I think others feel this as well, the Board has been working a lot more effectively just very, very recently and has shown perhaps how it could work in the future. So for all those reasons I am fairly confident that providing we continue to get the support we have got behind some of the proposals that things will continue to improve as they have been.
DW: I would simply add that I agree with Tim and certainly thereís going to be some time before the changes come in respect to the ordinance and the structure of the Board and so on. But in the meantime, as Tim says, we are quite excited about the fact that we are now enabled by I think our Board to move forward and focus on a relatively narrow range of activities that actually will enable us assist in delivering the Economic Strategies which the Government has approved. I think thatís a big change for us.
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