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Falklands : LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY THURSDAY, 21 FEBRUARY 2013 Questions for Oral Answer
Submitted by Falkland Islands News Network (Juanita Brock) 08.03.2013 (Article Archived on 05.04.2013)

A meeting of legislative Assembly took place in the Court and Assembly Chamber of the Town Hall at 0930hrs on Thursday, 21 February 2013. Present were MLAs Cheek, Edwards, Elsby, Halford, Hansen, Sawle, Short and Summers. The Chief Executive, the Hon Mr Keith Padgett, Financial Secretary, the Hon Ms Nicola Granger, Speaker, the Hon Mr Keith Biles, Clerk of Assembly Mrs Claudette Anderson-Prior, MBE and the Chief of Staff at MPA, GP Captain Stephen Ward, MBE.

 

LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY THURSDAY, 21 FEBRUARY 2013

 Questions for Oral Answer

 

Rough Transcript and Commentary by J. Brock (FINN)

 

 

A meeting of legislative Assembly took place in the Court and Assembly Chamber of the Town Hall at 0930hrs on Thursday, 21 February 2013.  Present were MLAs Cheek, Edwards, Elsby, Halford, Hansen, Sawle, Short and Summers. The Chief Executive, the Hon Mr Keith Padgett, Financial Secretary, the Hon Ms Nicola Granger, Speaker, the Hon Mr Keith Biles, Clerk of Assembly Mrs Claudette Anderson-Prior, MBE and the Chief of Staff at MPA, GP Captain Stephen Ward, MBE.

 

Prayers were said by Dr the Rev Richard Hines of Christ Church Cathedral.

 

 

Papers Laid on the Table by The Honourable the Chief Executive

 

Copies of Subsidiary Legislation published in the Falkland Islands Gazette since the last sitting of the Legislative Assembly and Laid on the Table pursuant to section 34(1) of the Interpretation and General Clauses Ordinance 1977.

 

 

·         Referendum on Political Status (Question) Order 2012    (Gazette No 14 31/12/2012)

·         Referendum on Political Status (Timing) Order 2012  (Gazette No 14 31/12/2012)

·         Referendum on Political Status (Official Information Leaflet) Order 2012 (Gazette No 14 31/12/2012

·         Aerodromes Regulations 2013 (Gazette No 1 31 January 2013)

·         Road Traffic (De-mining Operations) Order 2013 (Gazette No 1 31 January 2013)

·         Mullet Creek Track Regulations 2013 (Gazette  No 2 07/02/2013)

·         Building Designation (63 Fitzroy road, Stanley) Order 2013   (Gazette  No 2 07/02/2013)

·         Referendum (Campaign) Rules 2013   (Gazette  No 2 07/02/2013)

 

 

                  Falkland Islands Government Statements and Audit Reports laid on the Table in accordance with the provisions of Section 57 of the Finance and Audit Ordinance for the year end 30 June 2012

 

  • Falkland Islands Government Currency Fund
  • Insurance fund
  • Pensions (Old Scheme) Fund
  • Capital Equalisation fund

 

and for the year ended 31 December 2011

 

  • The Retirement Pensions Equalisation Fund

 

 

QUESTIONS FOR ORAL ANSWER

 

 

Question Number 01/13 by the Honourable Ian Hansen 

   

Can the Honourable Mike Summers please advise if there is available to the public, a yearly record of the amount of income from land based tourism, taking into account hotel, B&B, and self-catering in Stanley and Camp and also including FIGAS and Ferry fares?

 

MS:  Mr Speaker, Honourable Members, the Tourist Board does indeed keep a record of land based and cruise based tourism.  This data is collected throughout the season and is available upon request.  The tourist board further releases a statistics report at the beginning of each year based on the previous year’s data.  The Tourist Office is happy to release relevant figures whenever requested.

 

Land based tourists for purposes of visit spent an estimated spent an estimated £6.3 Million in 2012, an increase of 21% from the figure reported at the end of 2011.  Leisure tourists spent just over £2.9 Million representing a 24.5% increase on that recorded in 2011.  That represents approximately 46.4% of all tourism expenditure – land based tourism expenditure in the Falklands last year.  The balance is made up by visiting friends and relatives who account for 6% and business in transit visitors who account for 47.6%.

 

The data is based on the Air Visitors’ Exit Survey undertaken on a continual year-round basis by FITB at Mount Pleasant Airport.  It captures all expenditure by these tourists including accommodation, food and drink and local transport including FIGAS, Ferry, Car Hire, Taxis and etc., Tours and Shopping.

 

 

IH:  I thank the Honourable member for his reply.

 

 

Question Number 02/13 by the Honourable Dr Barry Elsby 

   

Can the Honourable Gavin Short please tell me if vessels licensed to fish in Falklands waters are allowed to throw away any fish they catch not covered by their licence?  If so, is it possible to estimate the amount of dead fish thrown away each year?

 

GS:  Mr Speaker, Honourable members, I am indebted to my honourable colleagues in the Fisheries Department for this reply.  Vessels licensed to fish in Falkland Islands waters may discard or throw away fish.  However, they are not compelled to do so as is the case in some other fisheries.  Discarding is a wasteful practice.  In the Falkland Islands fishery vessels may retain all catch and it is mandatory that they report catch retained and catch discarded.  There are by-catch limits for species not covered by the licence but excess catches may be retained.  Persistent excess catches will result in enforcement action.

 

Discarded fish count against the total allowable catch and conservation limit.  The quantity of fish discarded in the past three years is:

 

2010 – 17,533 tonnes which is about 8.4% of total catch,

2011 – 7325 tonnes which is 3.2% of total catch

2012 – 6383 tonnes which is 2.4% of the total catch

 

The quantity of discards has been reducing, although the figures are probably something of an under-estimate.

 

Discards arise for a variety of reasons.  Some fish species are not commercial.  About 90% of discards consist of Rock Cod.  Some of this is due to some vessels not being equipped to process the species.  Much of it is due to fish being too small to process. 

 

The Fisheries Department has conducted a series of research cruises looking at different mesh sizes.  The intention is to determine what increase in mesh size will allow small fish to escape while retaining the commercial catch.  This work is on-going but if a solution can be found it should reduce the by-catch significantly.

 

In addition to the discard of whole fish; it is estimated that on average 54,000 tonnes of processing waste – that’s mainly heads and guts that are discarded every year.

 

BE: I would like to thank my Honourable Friend for this.

 

DS: Would the Honourable Gavin Short not agree that 54,000 tonnes of processed waste put into the sea makes extremely good bird food?

 

GS:  I thank the Honourable Mr Sawle for his extremely good question.  The discard of heads awful and guts greatly exceeds the volume of discarded whole fish.  Can it be used usefully?  Well, not easily is the answer.  In some fisheries the wastes and discards are converted into fishmeal.  No vessel currently operating in the Falklands fishery has fishmeal plants.  But instituting such plants would be complex, expensive and in many cases, the vessels are a bit on the small side for such plants.

 

Going directly to your seabird question, the discards of waste and fish have some role in the ecosystem.  There is no doubt about that.  However, it would be preferable to have no discards or at least no discards available to seabirds.  It is the discard stream which attracts seabirds to fishing vessels which can then result in some seabirds being killed through contact with the fishing gear.

 

This is a problem in the trawl fishery.  In the longer term, fishing vessels should be designed or modified to allow subsurface discarding or the controlled discard at times when fishing gear is not deployed.

 

DS:  Mr Speaker I would just like to thank my Honourable friend for his lengthy answer to my somewhat short supplementary.

 

 

Question Number 03/13 by the Honourable Gavin Short 

   

Could the Hon Dick Sawle please give this house a report on where we are with localisation within the FIG? What posts could be localised, where understudies have been put in place to eventually take over and what are the areas of known weaknesses that require addressing.  Furthermore could they tell this house whether the offer made some time back to fund training for persons wishing to academically up skill in order to be in a position to apply for positions currently held by contract personnel had much uptake, is it still in existence and are people still availing themselves of the opportunity .

 

DS:  Mr Speaker, I would like to thank my Honourable Colleague for the question.  In answer to the Honourable Member’s question, there is, of course, an aspiration to localise all overseas contract posts in the longer term.  And (almost) without exception FIG always advertise locally first in the hope that it will attract suitable local candidates to apply for each and every contract post as it becomes vacant.

 

It can be seen, for example, in the recent appointment of Karen Steen as Head Teacher of the IJS and of Nicola Granger to the post of financial Secretary and Keith Padgett as Chief Executive but there is a definite move to this end at the more senior levels of Government and FIG wants to replicate across all levels of Government to employ.  However, there are still a number of areas where this has proved to be an up-hill challenge. 

 

The main areas where we would like to see more localisation would be in the Health and Education Departments.  i.e. we would like to see more local nurses, social workers and teachers.  However, these posts do tend to require specialist training and how we achieve getting local people in them is something FIG needs to work on further.

 

The training funding provided by Members to support specialist training is making a difference slowly but surely.  To date this financial year alone, funding has provided training to over 50 members of staff.  These funds have provided training which includes: a second round of training for the Darwin 16, initial management and leadership training for a new cohort of this group, it has supported 4 staff to undertake the CMR Level 5 qualification and another to undertake a professional HR qualification.  A number of staff have attended the recent Media Training and funding will be used to support the forthcoming Prints to Project Management Training to allow local members of the community to gain qualifications which will help them significantly as they prepare for the new economic developments coming on stream in the Islands.

 

In summary there is a constant review of every post held by overseas contract staff as and when their term expires and where possible a local applicant is keenly sought.  Full details of the posts concerned are provided in a spread-sheet which I can circulate to you if you wish.

 

FIG has every confidence that with a continuation of the funding provided by Members to support up-skilling in the community more and more posts will find themselves firmly occupied by local talent as opposed to brought in skills.

 

In reality, of course, what we are likely to see in the future is that posts will change hands over time and that, depending on the circumstances, at any given time, we may still require the support of of imported contract officers to ensure that Government is able to function and provide the quality services we seek from it, unless local people continue to be identified and trained to a level where they can fill these specialist roles.

 

To that end I would urge that anyone interested in development should contact the Education Department to discuss their case and find out more about what funding may be available for them to do this.

 

GS:  Mr Speaker I wish to thank the Honourable Gentleman for his splendidly full answer.

 

SH:  I was just wondering if the Honourable Dick Sawle could tell me if relevant experience is taken into account when assessing applicants for posts or do FIG focus mainly on qualifications?

 

DS:  Thank you Mr Speaker, on that question I would say that relevant experience is most definitely taken into account.  I have certainly seen that in the advertisements as well as qualifications.  I would guess that it’s a mixture of the two.

 

DS:  Sorry Mr Speaker, If I just might add that I missed part of my answer out there – sorry. I do apologise.  But If I may add that if one of the specific items that my Honourable Colleagues, Gavin Short, raised is the expenditure and we do have a budget of £200,000.00 a year.  Last year, for example, 11/12, £50,410.00 was spent and in 12/13, a total of £86,140.00 was spent.  So as you can see, there is plenty of money in the budgets so again I would urge people to apply for training from that budget.

 

GS:  Mr Speaker, I thank my Honourable Friend, the Honourable Dick for that reply and of course he lets me ask a supplementary.  The monies you mentioned, is that just specifically for Government employees or is that the scheme that allows anyone within the community who wishes to undertake some sort of academic course in order to be in a position to perhaps have a punt at the job to do so?

 

DS:  Mr Speaker, I can’t be completely specific on that supplementary.  I can, however, give my Honourable Colleague a break-down on how those budgets have been spent and I notice from that break-down that some of them have gone to the Policy unit, some of them have gone to the Police, some have also gone to the Training Centre and I would guess that where the training Centre is concerned that would mean it is a potential route for non-FIG employees to get further training.

 

GS:  I thank him for his answer.  Perhaps referring to the training centre does obscure the figures I am trying to get at.  Would he at some stage in the future be able to provide more specific details as to whether people from the private sector are applying for and taking up the opportunity that we hope to give them to avail themselves of some sort of funding for academic qualifications?

 

DS:  Mr Speaker I would be delighted to do that in the form of a written answer to my Honourable Colleague at some stage in the future if I may.

 

KB:  Indeed, you may.  Would you please copy your answer to your Honourable Colleague to the Clerk please?

 

 

Question Number 04/13 by the Honourable Gavin Short 

   

Could the Hon Dr Barry Elsby please inform the house whether anyone within FIG is actively looking to see what direct and indirect opportunities may be available within any future hydrocarbons industry that locals can work towards filling, the qualifications that would be required for each position and who is coordinating the effort and who will be presenting the findings to the community please.

 

BE:  Mr Speaker, Honourable Members, I would like to thank my colleague the Honourable Gavin Short for what is a very important question and the simple answer is there are many people within FIG looking into this but it is being led by the Head of Policy and he will be liaising with many departments and many agencies and will eventually present a report to the Oil Readiness Review Group and then on to EXCO.  And EXCO will decide how that will be made public.

 

But if I understand my Honourable Colleague correctly, what he really wants to know is how can we ensure that as many Islanders as possible are able to fill the jobs that are going to be created by the hydrocarbons industry.  And I think there we need to look at, to start with, education, so I think at the beginning we need to make sure that the children in our Senior School are receiving appropriate career guidance so they are enabled to take appropriate courses and get them into the appropriate training so they can be employed in the oil industry.  But it goes further than that.  I think the group of us that went off to Norway, whilst we were over there we were made aware that the University in Stavanger, for instance, offers courses in English in oil related studies up to but not excluding degree courses and these will be available for people here, so, again people in the Senior school could make use of that but also the private sector.  If they identify a need within their business it might want to consider taking advantage of those courses available at Stavanger at very little cost.

 

We’ve also had reviews of a socio economic nature and we had the initial review by the Rockhopper Plexus Report which looked at the effect that Rockhopper’s development was going to have and of course we’ve got our own Regeneris report going on at the moment which will be reporting in April and we hope from those reports again we will be able to identify where the weaknesses are and where the strengths are so we can optimise the ability of our people to take up posts.

 

And of course, FIDC is also involved here and they have been tasked with liaising with Premier (Oil) and the private sector to ascertain what skills and qualifications the oil industry needs and then to liaise with the private sector to try to ensure that they develop those qualifications and accreditations so they can be employed by the developing sector.

 

They are also tasked with making up a database of industries and companies within the Islands so that the oil industry can actively and easily look at that to see who in the Islands can provide the services.  And indeed there was an ad in the Penguin News a couple of weeks ago encouraging local companies to register with them to help get their message over to the oil industry.

 

GS:  I thank the Honourable Member for his very full reply.  I did hear him make mention of an EXCO report that will eventually be prepared and put forward.  I would just like to ask that whatever that EXCO report is, if it is covering employment opportunities within the Hydrocarbons sector that it is released to the public unaltered.

 

BE:  Mr Speaker, Honourable members, I share my Honourable Colleague’s hope that it will be made fully public and I can see no reason why it shouldn’t but of course, it is up to Members and EXCO at the time.

 

 

Question Number 05/13 by the Honourable Gavin Short 

   

Can  MLA Dick Sawle please tell this house when the minimum wages legislation will be placed before this house please and whether any further work will be done to update the actual rate per hour before implementation as this rate, which I think was set some time ago, must by now be woefully out of date. Also can he say whether a view has been taken on whether the methodology to obtain the hourly rate is still valid given that the accommodation that was used in the original base calculation may now no longer available and other options may be differently priced?

 

DS:  Mr Speaker, Honourable Members, as my Honourable Colleague will recall, Executive Council approved the Legislative Drafting priorities for the period January 2013 to June 2013 in December 2012.  And in line with those priorities it is anticipated that the draft minimum wage legislation will be presented to Executive Council in April of this year – April 2013.  There will then follow a period of public consultation for the Bill with the results of that consultation being presented to Executive Council in June 2013 together with any proposed amendments to the draft legislation.  If Executive Council approve the draft legislation then it should be presented to the Legislative Assembly in July 2013. 

 

The original rate for the minimum wage when the policy was originally adopted in November 2012 was £4.88 per hour.  When the detailed policy instructions were being developed, during 2012, the current Head of Policy identified the same issues with the calculation that the Honourable Mr Short identifies.  And for this reason, and as my Honourable Colleague will recall as detailed in EXCO Paper 185/12 from July 2012, an updated rate of £5.05 per hour was agreed for workers aged 18 and over. And the rate for 16/17 year olds was increased to £3.10 per hour. 

 

These new calculations were based on the latest available data on incomes from the Census 2012.  The new calculations also eliminated the direct link to the price of local accommodation with the rate instead being based on the proportion of median income as it is common practice in many other parts of the world.

 

The legislation will provide for the periodic updating of the wage level in the future.  The Policy Unit are currently engaged in a project to calculate the level of a living wage in the Falkland Islands and it may be appropriate to review the minimum wage calculations once again when this work has been completed.

 

GS:  I thank the Honourable member for his reply and I would urge that before we go live with Minimum wages indeed things are re-calculated because then by that stage we will be 12 months out of date.

 

DS:  Mr Speaker, I would just like to assure my Honourable Colleague that the process is already set and can be used if we so wish.

 

GS:  A slightly unfair question to my colleague but do you know within the legislation as it is being drafted, whether there is indeed a date set within that legislation for a trigger of an automatic review on an annual basis?

 

DS:  Mr Speaker, Honourable members, I haven’t seen the legislation as yet and perhaps the Acting Attorney General might be able to assist me with an answer to that question?

 

RC:  Mr Speaker, the Legislation is at such an early stage in drafting that I am not able to answer the question in the positive either but I think what I can do is relay that question back both to the drafter and the relevant Policy Officer and ask that they consider that as a possibility.

 

GS:  I thank the Acting Attorney General for her reply.  I am somewhat alarmed to hear you say it still is at a very early stage of drafting.  We are very, very close to April and time will fly by.  It is something that I would like to have through this House before our days are done.

 

RC:  Mr Speaker, I would like to reassure the House that this is something that I am acutely aware of in terms of the wishes of Members to see this legislation completed and submitted to Executive Council in draft form in April and I can confirm that we are doing everything we can to make sure that it does happen.  And the legislative Drafter will be working exclusively on this piece of legislation until that is achieved.  It is our intention that he not be distracted by any other projects as this now has ultimate priority.  Thank you.

 

GS:  I would just like to thank her for her reply and it actually fills my heart with joy to hear that.

 

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