St Helena : St Helena: MOU Assessment making progress
Submitted by Saint Helena Herald (Public Relations Information Office) 23.09.2011 (Article Archived on 07.10.2011)
Currently on the Island are Tom Kelly, Head of the DFID Overseas Territories Department and Eric Arnold, a Private Sector Development Consultant. Eddie Palmer, DFID Representative on St. Helena, is supporting the DFID team.
MOU Assessment making progress
Currently on the Island are Tom Kelly, Head of the DFID Overseas Territories Department and Eric Arnold, a Private Sector Development Consultant. Eddie Palmer, DFID Representative on St. Helena, is supporting the DFID team. Tom and Eric are carrying out an assessment of progress made to date on the MOU Reforms and are also assessing prospects for future implementation of the MoU timetable. The MoU is one of the four conditions set out by the Secretary of State in the July 2010 in his Written Ministerial Statement. These conditions relate to an acceptable price, risk, technical issues about construction of the runway, and reforms needed to open the Island up to inward investment. All four conditions need to be met before approval can be given to finance the construction of an airport for St Helena. Since their arrival on Thursday 15th September Tom and Eric have met with His Excellency the Governor, Legislative Council, the Strategic Policy and Planning Unit, the different working Groups that are taking forward the MOU reforms, SHG officials, Chamber of Commerce, and representatives of Civil Society. These meetings will continue up until their departure on Friday 23rd September 2011.
Approaching the Assessment
The primary purpose of Tom and Eric’s visit is to assess the progress SHG has made towards meeting Condition Four of the MOU which is for “St Helena to implement the reforms needed to open the island’s economy to inward investment and increased tourism.”
Tom and Eric are sticking very closely to the terms set out in the MOU agreed by the UK and St. Helena Governments. The MoU focuses on four big areas: Land, Immigration, Investment/Tax and Capacity, i.e. the skills that Government has or can draw on to help to deliver the reforms. This includes identifying key challenges and the next steps that need to be taken to implement the reforms in each area. The assessment team is gathering information from a wide range of public, private, and civil society sources.
The approach of the MOU assessment is twofold. First, to assess progress made against agreed targets and milestones. Second, to view the reforms from the perspective of a potential investor and whether these changes are more investor friendly. Throughout their meetings, the assessment team has emphasised the importance of identifying evidence to support conclusions reached. This is because we need to be able to show that not only have new policies been adopted, but that these policies are being implemented.
Back in the UK, the final assessment report will have a wide readership. DFID, FCO and Treasury Minsters are as interested to read about progress made in implementing the MoU reforms as they are about how other conditions set out in the Ministerial Statement are being met.
Ultimately what Tom and Eric are doing is gathering evidence which demonstrates how the Island is expanding the opportunities for both local and inward investors and increased tourism. An important part of the review is assessing the extent to which MoU reforms can feed into wider Government policies and plans. In other words, we need to show that the MoU reforms will have a lasting impact on Government plans and policies. A key outcome of the reforms is reaching the right balance between the public and private sectors in accelerating economic development and delivering benefits for Saints.
Throughout the various meetings Tom and Eric have been assured by Elected Members and Officials that SHG is fully committed to the reform programme. Director of Strategic Policy and Planning, Susan O’Bey said:
“We are pleased with the commitment from everyone involved in delivering the MOU Reform Programme. In a way the MOU has acted like a catalyst enabling us to refine and implement a number of key work streams to create a more investment friendly St Helena that had already been started previously.”
Tom and Eric have asked us to extend their thanks to everybody who took part in their discussions on the island.
The Final Report
SHG will have the opportunity to comment on a draft MoU assessment report before it is finalised. The findings of the MoU assessment team will feed into the final recommendations that will go to Ministers on the airport.
Tom informed LegCo that there has been good progress on contract negotiations with Basil Read. A VC between LegCo, the assessment team and Nigel Kirby will take place on Friday 23 September. This will update elected members on latest developments on the contract negotiations around price and risk.
It is hoped that a final decision on the airport will be made by UK Government Ministers before the end of this year.
Strategic and Policy Planning Unit
22nd September 2011