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The Tristan Times - Tristan da Cunha
The online newspaper of Tristan da Cunha
  Issue No. 574 Online Edition Friday 31 October 2014 
Home | March 2011 Please tell us what you think of this article. Tell a friend Print Friendly

Tristan : St Helena EXCO REPORT 66 – 29th March 2011
Submitted by Tristan Times (Juanita Brock) 30.03.2011 (Article Archived on 13.04.2011)

The weekly EXCO meeting has now become quite a feature of our political landscape. This increased frequency is due to the end of the financial year and the additional MOU related work, but whatever the reason, it is certainly ensuring that both officers and Councillors are under significant pressure.

St Helena EXCO REPORT 66 – 29th March 2011


 


The weekly EXCO meeting has now become quite a feature of our political landscape. This increased frequency is due to the end of the financial year and the additional MOU related work, but whatever the reason, it is certainly ensuring that both officers and Councillors are under significant pressure.


 


Cllr. Isaac was once again deputising for Cllr. Yon, and as Mervyn should be back on Sunday I thanked Brian for his contributions over the past few weeks.


 


All the items on today’s agenda were “closed” and so we started by approving the minutes of the last two meetings and there were virtually no Matters Arising. That brought us on to our first Memorandum entitled “Creation of a Viable and Sustainable Media on St.Helena”.


 


The present situation with regard to our media can easily be regarded as being sub-optimal. Government is spending taxpayers’ money on sustaining, or helping to sustain, two services that in some ways duplicate one another. Therefore it is widely believed that if we changed the structure of what we are doing, we could well get a much better mix of services at a reduced cost. However reaching that point is not simple, and over the last few months John Styles has produced a report, with the cooperation of all the media, that makes some suggestions as to possible improvements. Those recommendations are believed by Councillors to have some merit, and so this Paper sought to approve further detailed work being done. It received unanimous consent.


 


We then came to a Paper presented by the Financial Secretary, with the Director of Finance in attendance that was in effect the draft of revised Financial Regulations. He explained that changes in the existing Regulations are necessary because of the introduction of accruals accounting and output budgeting throughout government in a few days’ time. These are substantial reforms and the 40 pages of Regulations that were presented cover a wide range of public sector financial activity. They indicate how government employees handling money should do so in virtually every conceivable situation. There were some questions from Hon.Members that were answered by the Officers, and so the Regulations were duly recommended for approval.


 


The next nine items were all Special Warrants. A Special Warrant provides political permission to spend money over and above the original budget. That does not necessarily mean that we will overspend our total budget, but if we have a surplus at the year end, such expenditure would serve to reduce it.


 


The Hon.Members were not impressed by the fact that there were nine of these, and made the point that in some ways it was an indication of a lack of quality in either budgeting or control. The point was made that Departments can’t spend money that hasn’t been approved. The Financial Secretary accepted that interpretation to some degree but pointed out that variances from budget were due in some cases to circumstances that were impossible to foresee, and that he believed that the accruals accounting system would mean far fewer such warrants next year.


 


There were not many items discussed under Any Other Business. However I raised an issue that Cllr.Cathy Cranfield on Ascension had raised with me. She asked whether Saints living on Ascension could be more involved in the political process here by being informed of consultations and having some kind of input into the process. After all, many will wish to return here in the future.


 


It was pointed out that notice of all consultations appears on the SHG website and that folk on Ascension have easy access to politicians here by email should they so wish. They can also access the weekly newspapers. So avenues for input already exist for those Saints who wish to avail themselves of them


 


The meeting closed at 12.45 pm


 


Andrew Gurr


Governor


29th March 2011

 

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