Falklands : LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT SPEECH BY DICK SAWLE (20/12/2012)
Submitted by Falkland Islands News Network (Juanita Brock) 06.01.2013 (Article Archived on 03.02.2013)
Mr Speaker, Honourable Colleagues, I would like to thank my Honourable colleague Sharon Halford for her lengthy and full detail in her Motion for Adjournment Speech.
LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT SPEECH BY DICK SAWLE (20/12/2012)
Mr Speaker, Honourable Colleagues, I would like to thank my Honourable colleague Sharon Halford for her lengthy and full detail in her Motion for Adjournment Speech. And we are, Mr Speaker, coming to the end of another fascinating and busy year for the Falkland Islands and quite frankly that is what makes the Falklands such a good place to be.
I can’t ever recall the feeling that the place has stood still for long. I don’t want to go over the whole year in detail but a few portfolio matters which I hope will be of interest.
Recently Stephen Luxton and I attended lectures in London at a conference for City investors on the 29th of last month (November).
Joining in with us were BGS – Phil Richards, and speakers from AGR, Noble and Premier. One of the interesting facts is that the Falklands have had seven hits out of 23 wells drilled so far and that was noted as being of extreme interest for potential investors. The general feeling that came out of the conference was that the Falklands has massive potential and is a great place to do business with a clear and very transparent government and that we are open for business. The conference was well attended with well over 100 representatives from a variety of city investors.
The value of getting those sorts of messages across together with our political messages can never be underestimated and the feedback from the conference from those attending it has shown that it was well worth it. All of the developmental effect it will have not only for our economy in general but also in our private sector is perhaps top of the agenda at the present and many people are working very hard to get it ready.
Oil development is a game changer for us all. It doesn’t just strengthen our economic prospects but it also places the Falklands far higher in world political terms. With such potentially large changes comes the need to up-skill all sectors of our economy, not just the private sector but also within Government. And I am pleased to see that we have already taken positive steps to do just that with the creation of new posts that will not only strengthen up some areas of Government but also increase capacity in other areas which are sorely needed.
We do need to ensure that clear and concise communications are maintained not only with the public but also with the oil companies and the private sector. One of the lessons learned from the recent trip to Norway is that clear communication is absolutely key to progress and development.
We need to ensure that budgets are fed from recurring revenues and avoid what is known as “Dutch Disease,” which some countries have suffered from. Dutch Disease, to explain, is where non-recurring revenues are used to fund excessive budgets. This then results in inflationary spirals and an eventual inability to maintain levels of expenditure. And I am pleased that we have already recognised this and have placed such non-recurring revenues within the consolidated fund but earmarked as oil receipts. This does not mean that they can’t be used and it is clear that they will be required for a variety of projects but they should not be used to fund recurring operational budget expenditures.
On the Port Project, very briefly, we now have a project plan and much work is on-going into site investigation and the detail of the various bits of planning which are required. More detail on those matters of interest to us all, such as location of roads, the size and the shape of the port in Port William and of course, the identification of land use such as lay-down areas, warehouses, offices, etc. should all be available in early February to look at.
Our recent trip to Norway was of great interest. We learned from the Norwegians how to handle the relationship between oil companies and governments. And while governments at the end of the day have to govern, they must also be clear and transparent in their dealings with oil companies. We learned how Norway has handled its wealth; we had a great deal of detail on the taxation regime and the benefits that have accrued to Norway. We learned the perhaps obvious lesson that all natural resources belong to the people of the Falklands and this must be the guiding principle throughout.
Stephen Luxton is putting together a report that should summarise all of our notes and lessons learned which will be made public in due course and should form the basis of some useful discussion and debate. And I look forward to discussing and debating that report in due course.
Legislation, Mr Speaker, is something that I often mentioned and we are well aware there are many aspects of legislation we have needed for some time to be made fit for purpose. We have outsourced a lot of work on this recently and reviews of the criminal law are provision of the laws of the Falkland Islands and much other work is on-going. What is clear to me is that we need to have a legal system that is accessible to all and up to date. These pieces of work together with the interaction between our Falkland Islands’ laws and those of the UK are a large piece of work. It will be neither simple or quick as there is no quick fix and I am very pleased to see that we are tackling it.
On regulation, the recent decisions with regard to regulation of telecommunications have been approved and I expect that soon we will have another amendment to the telecommunications ordinance that will give legislative effect to the price cap mechanisms and the other regulations that I mentioned in the previous Assembly.
As I mentioned in that same Assembly, we need to tackle the issue of further improvements to our telecommunications. This work has already begun. And whilst it is yet early days, there is a great deal of will amongst colleagues to bring forward further improvements in due course.
Mr Speaker, I mentioned earlier that oil development brings with it the need to improve skills within the private sector and also within the Government. And it also does change the political nature of the Falklands. Ir will place us in a more prominent and therefore a more responsible position within both regional and global politics. And with this in mind I would like to thank the recently appointed panel for looking into Members’ remuneration and conditions. Their work in this regard and their conclusions will be key to political success for the Falklands for the future. And I wish to be quite clear. It is not just about pay. Lack of adequate pay for the job is, at present, a barrier to any who wish to stand for election. And that barrier has to be removed so that more people who wish to can put themselves forward as candidates to represent their country. I make no apology for stating the obvious. But it also involves attracting capable and effective people to do this job. It has nothing to do with age; it has everything to do with ability, commitment and drive. The choice at the end of the day will be down to the electorate and they will speak out as they always have done. Members need to move along as we develop and progress our Constitution and as more power is evolved to our elected Government. I look forward to their findings and hope that everyone that has a view freely expresses it and takes advantage of this opportunity for the Falklands to evolve into what it needs to be to match its opportunities. We can’t afford to be complacent and need to move forward.
Mr Speaker, I would close by wishing everyone a very happy Christmas. And one of the dangers of this job, Mr Speaker, is in taking yourself too seriously. So with that in mind, I would urge my face-book friends to view and listen to my Christmas Greetings. I would also urge people to get their rafts ready for the 1st of January. My MARK III Bathtub will be a certain winner provided I do not suffer the now customary annual disqualification and my message, Mr Speaker, is to enjoy the festive season.