Falklands : FIRS PUTS THE SPOTLIGHT ON ROGER SPINK (08/22/11)
Submitted by Falkland Islands News Network (Juanita Brock) 27.08.2011 (Article Archived on 10.09.2011)
On todayís programme Stacey Bragger talked to Roger Spink (RS), who last week was re-elected President of the Falkland Islands Chamber of Commerce.
FIRS PUTS THE SPOTLIGHT ON ROGER SPINK
A Report for FIRS by Stacey Bragger (SB) 08/22/11
Intro by J. Brock (FINN)
On todayís programme Stacey Bragger talked to Roger Spink (RS), who last week was re-elected President of the Falkland Islands Chamber of Commerce. He asked Mr Spink about the Chamberís aims for the next year and giving his thoughts on the Falklandsí economy.
SB: What do you think are the most important issues currently for the Falklandsí private sector?
RS: the Falklands are lucky in that they have seen growth in the economy due to oil exploration and the improved Illex catch. So thatís provided some temporarily insulation from the worldís economic troubles. But there are rising fuel prices and the inflation rate up to 11% causing issues for many of our members. There are a few problems but actually there are some quite good benefits. We see as a very important issue the localisation of services provided to the Ministry of Defence at Mount Pleasant; and we wish to work with the Government and the Development Corporation and the Ministry of Defence to move forward on the provision of services at Mount Pleasant.
SB: I think that there has been a little bit of frustration with the amount of time being taken to progress that issue of localisation. Do you feel that the issue is moving on now?
RS: I think all sides are willing and I think finding the way forward is obviously difficult. Itís a big issue for the MOD and the British Government and I am sure itís a big issue for the Government here. But I think the Chamber wishes to move things forward. If you look at the oil flight going once a week, the private sector now are servicing two flights a week into Mount Pleasant and the natural extension of that would be some savings for the Ministry of Defence to hand over the two flights that they have coming into the base. It may not be as simple as that but certainly there is a will on all sides to try and find ways forward.
SB: I guess quite a lot of businesses locally will be keen to get into MPA?
RS: Many businesses! Weíve had one trip out to Mount Pleasant already and weíve had the Commander British Forces come and visit us at the Chamber Offices. And I think almost all businesses in Stanley see opportunities arising at Mount Pleasant. Letís face it, for most of us itís the second largest market here. So the Chamber of Commerce thinks itís a very important factor to push forward.
SB: Another opportunity for local business is the oil industry and I believe quite a lot of work has gone on recently looking to maximise that.
RS: We are fortunate that Lewis Clifton and Karen Lee have given up a lot of time to put a workshop together at the Chamber and they are working with FIG and also the oil insustry to highlight opportunities for local businesses. And the oil operators themselves have been extremely supportive of local businesses and are pleased with the local involvement that there has been so far. I think all of us in the private sector need to learn from the oil industry what opportunities and requirements they have over the next few years and we look forward in the coming year to the arrival of a second rig to the extra activity and employment thatís going to bring into the Islands. It really is a major contributor to our economy.
SB: how do you describe the private sectorís relationship with Government at the moment?
RS: itís very good. The Chamber Council have a meeting once every quarter with MLAs. Weíd like it to be more open than it is. For very good reason sometimes MLAs have decided they do not wish to have that more open. We can understand that and we have had quite open and frank discussions. And we can go back to our Members and if they have any issues we can take those up with MLAs at those meetings. And we are also moving forwards with our relationship with the Development Corporation to have more of a partnering relationship to move issues forward and we are working very much with Chris Coles at the Development Corporation on the localisation at MPA. But itís a slow process as you said earlier.
SB: What would you say that the main hurdles are at the moment for moving the economy along?
RS: The economy is moving along quite well at the moment in lots of areas but the old things like accommodation and links with the rest of the world are obviously important. We still donít know the full details of the new containerised service but that may assist in certain sectors. As for flights the fact that people now are able to come and go on the oil charter flights gives another way for people and goods in and out of the Islands. All of those things make the Islands an easier place to do business in.
SB: Are Telecommunications still a cause for concern?
RS: I think Telecommunications are moving forward. There are increases in allocations for data, bandwidth and free overnight downloads are a welcome step by Cable & Wireless. But I think we still want the ability to use satellite dishes as an effective mechanism for encouraging innovation from Cable & Wireless and competitive pricing. So we are looking forward to learn the results of Governmentís deliberations with Cable & Wireless about the way in which they regulate the service going forward. There are signs that Cable & Wireless are responding to the pressure they have been put under and I feel this is great. And itís good to see them moving forward.
SB: Where do you hope to be in a yearís time with these issues?
RS: It would be lovely if we move from exploration to exploitation by then. There are signs that hopefully we are moving in that direction. Then it would be nice to know what the oil industry would require to move forward. It would be nice to see fish being landed in Stanley and shipped by container all around the world. That would be a way of moving forward as a lot of people in the fishing industry see that as being something they would strive to achieve. There is a lot of work on Tourism and we are very pleased that next year there is a small increase in cruise vessel visitors and we would like to see a bit more increase in land based visitors. Obviously we are going to be fairly busy this next year with the activity thatís going on offshore.
SB: Just to re-cap, who makes up the Chamber Council now?
RS: At the meeting on Thursday I was confirmed as the President, Hamish Wyley is the vice president; Pam Budd after many years as Treasurer has now stepped down due to work commitments and we are very sad to see Pam go. Sheís done a lot of work for us in the past so Nikki Buxton very kindly stepped into the fold and Mike Forrest was re-confirmed on the Council and we are very pleased that John Ferguson and also Jimmy Moffatt will be joining us on the Council and itís great to have some new faces in there to ask us some difficult questions and itís nice to have them around that table. Both of them have contributed a great deal to Chamber matters. I think in the Chamber of Commerce, we want all our members to be involved in forming the policies and making sure that the Chamber represents the whole of their membership as well as we can.
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