THE Executive Council agenda was described as, "a fairly light one this month," by the Chair MLA Dick Sawle.
Under matters arising from the previous meeting, it was noted that the second legislative drafter was expected to arrive in the Falklands in early March.
ExCo also briefly discussed and agreed the need to, "urgently address the situation where someone who has gained their PRP in their own right, subsequently acquires Falkland Islands Status via marriage but then loses it is placed in the unintended position of also losing their PRP. This is being actioned as a matter of urgency and will probably require a minor amendment to legislation."
MLA Sawle added: "As is customary, we went over the task status report and had an update on the progress of the streams of work connected with the revision of Falklands' laws; people will recall the recent visit of Daniel Greenberg who will be reporting back to FIG around the end of May with timescales for completion. We also discussed the work of Mr John Wilson who was here recently also to look at updating the criminal law. That project is progressing well and the AG's department is busy checking through the drafts as they arrive."
The first paper for discussion was the Supplementary Appropriation Bill 2013. The Bill was approved and went before the Assembly today where it was also approved. This Bill allows for just over £400,000 to be taken from the Consolidated Fund and used to fund a variety of departments. The total withdrawn form the Consolidated Fund I this financial year stands at just over £53m.
Pobjoy Mint had submitted two designs for commemorative coins which were approved and are now pending royal approval. The first was the minting of a coin entitled 'referendum 2013' and the second was the minting and issue of the 2nd commemorative coin under the title, 'we will remember them'. Numismatists can glean more information from the paper itself.
The next item on the agenda was a paper relating to works on the West Point Airstrip. The recommendation that the airstrip be extended so that it can be re-opened was approved. In line with improvements to Beaver Island and New Island there will be an element of the costs of these works that will be met by the owner of the Island.
MLA Sawle commented: "The general policy that some elements of the works or costs of getting all three of these airstrips back into service was commenced in 2010 by a welcome approach from the owners of Beaver Island and then a similar approach from the New Island Trust. Hopefully work can commence soon, before the summer season finishes, and the Island will once again be able to be serviced by FIGAS."
Port Infrastructure works and the Project Initiation Document or PID was then presented. This is a public paper, and for those who are interested, said MLA Sawle, "it is well worth obtaining a copy and having a good look. Basically a PID is the document that sets out the stages of development and delivery of the port project. However, the document is a 'living' document and will change in line with new information and of course in line with the development itself. In other words, it is not a document that sits on the shelf, but enables all of those involved to alter, update, amend and share information on a regular basis. Some elements (as is the case at present) will be out of date, but it provides the backbone to the project. Copies will be available from Simon Fletcher, Director of Central Services."
The next paper was an information paper which gave some commercial detail on costs associated with site investigations into Port William. MLA Sawle said: "Whilst costs have risen from the original estimates, they have not risen by any substantial amount, and the expectation is that all of the increases can be in fact self-funded through the sharing of resources procured."
Also on the agenda was a paper which approved an increase in the Falkland Islands Meat Company (FIMCO) an overdraft facility from the current £1m to £1.5m. FIMCO has a negative cash-flow which is due to there being a lengthy period of time between purchasing stock from farms and receipt of income from sales.
"The figure approved may not be entirely used as it includes a margin for variance. This proposal had already been approved by the board of FIDC this month. I should point out that the forecasts for FIMCO show a positive trend. At present meat sales are at a lower value than normal, the horse meat scandal has affected sales (even though of course we cherish horses here and none have ever been killed by FIMCO), but the outlook for the company is good," said MLA Sawle.
He added: "I left the meeting for the next paper as it concerned approval of a scheme for the disposal of plots for phases 1 and 2 of the Sapper Hill development and it is possible that a family member may have a direct interest. The policy was approved and is largely similar to that used for Mink Park plots. As there was at Mink Park, there is special consideration for first time buyers and full details will be advertised in due course."
The next very lengthy paper was to approve the amendments to the Administration of Justice Ordinance which was approved and was also approved at Legislative Assembly today.
MLA Sawle said: "This Bill follows a consultation phase with those involved. It seeks to amend the legislation so as to bring it up to date with current practice in the UK. Just as an example, it allows for certain cases to be more easily passed between the summary court and the Magistrates court. For example, the Chief Justice will have the power to approve which court is used and the Chief Justice and the Senior Magistrate can issue practice directions regarding the process to be applied if a case is referred. The Summary Court can have jurisdiction in child care cases which means in effect that if the Senior Magistrate is absent from the Islands (for example), a care order can be renewed. Without these amendments this would not have been possible, thereby effectively meaning that the Senior Magistrate could not leave the Islands whilst care orders or supervision orders needed to be renewed. Justices of the Peace can now deal with care orders or supervision orders if required to do so.
"The Bill is lengthy and contains of course a lot more detail than my brief summary, and will be welcomed by legal practitioners.
"This is a large piece of work that was required as a matter of some urgency and we would like to thank Ronnie Maclennan Baird for his hard work."
The final paper concerned the approval of Stanley Growers to have recognised scheme status in respect of employment of students from the University of Magallanes.
MLA Sawle said: "It was agreed that Stanley Growers should be approved under the relevant section of the Immigration Ordinance which effectively means that there will be no charge for work permits obtained under this scheme. It also means that the requirement for these jobs to be advertised is waived. These jobs do not remove any local employment possibilities as they are in addition to the normal employment programme. This is a much valued link between the Falklands and Chile and it is hope that Falkland Islanders will be able to take up similar reciprocal arrangements with the University."
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