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Submitted by Falkland Islands News Network (Juanita Brock) 22.06.2013 (Article Archived on 20.07.2013)

Mr Speaker, Honourable Members, I will be brief. (I will say) a few words first about the budget.



by J. Brock (FINN)


Mr Speaker, Honourable Members, I
will be brief.  (I will say) a few words
first about the budget.  Thanks always to
the Treasury staff for the process.  We
all say it every year but it doesnít mean it is any less heartfelt.  Thanks for all the hard work for everybody in
the team.  Of the 15 budgets I have now
been involved in, itís perhaps one of the easier in a way and also quite
complex because we are in the position now where we have the possibility of
significant future income looking forward and the need to spend a lot of money
to prepare for that but not yet having the certainty that that income will
arise.  And so there is a balance to be
had between investing in and making money in the future and continuing to put
windfalls in the bank to make sure that the reserves are sufficiently robust to
be able to look after the community if the income foreseen doesnít occur. 


So we have a bit of everything
really.  We have been able to increase
the reserves quite substantially and there is an argument that we probably
could afford to spend a little more of the reserve.  But the difficulty in my mind is in creating
on-going expenditures that are then much, much more difficult to turn back if
you donít have what you thought you were going to have.


So Increasing the Capital
Expenditure is very much easier and I think the additional monies that have
been put into the Capital Programme this year will need to be spent and I think
will make a real contribution in preparing for the future and it doesnít create
future liabilities, if you like, if income expected at a particular time or at
a particular level doesnít arise.


And of course the Capital Budget
is one of the engines of growth in the community here.  But it will have a significant effect on the
rate of expenditure out and about and anywhere else.  And it contributes to pushing some of the
Governmentís wealth out into the community. 
I think thatís good.  There has
been a little bit of distribution.  I am
delighted we had some effect on the iniquitous employment tax and got rid of at
least part of that for the benefit of the lower paid.  I hope in due course we can get rid of the
rest of it and put it in the bin where it belongs.


The issue about distribution Ė I
know that others have referred to Ė is that you are creating an on-going
increase in expenditure that is difficult to turn back if things arenít quite
what you expect.  A little bit of
distribution is absolutely the right thing to do and I am happy that we have
been able to do that.  My lingering
concern is that we have a lot of departments of the government that are very,
very hard pushed Ė very hard stressed and we havenít really been in a position
yet to staff them yet to the extent they need to be staffed to do the work that
is necessary going forward and this is a constant balance between how you can
push people go get things done and get them done well and not put the
investment into it.


All in all, I think itís been
quite good.  There is another issue that
the Financial Secretary mentioned and it is about housing.  We donít have either to get an adequate
housing policy Ė we donít have an adequate vision of what we want to do
particularly with Government housing and how we want to process and how we want
to make it available to people and we do need to work on that.


I would like to commend my
colleague from the West on his tremendous vision in thinking of getting rid of
vehicle tax.  I think I might have
mentioned that a few months ago in relation to road designation.  Certainly one of my targets going forward Ė
not a popular tax and not one actually that makes much of a contribution to
society as a whole, so letís get rid of it when we can.  And in the meantime, keep investing in the
important industries that we have running here. 


There is a huge amount of discussion
about hydrocarbons but the here and now is the agricultural industry, the
tourism industry (and) the fishing industry. 
And I am pleased to hear that we have some adequate investment at least
in those industries going forward.


Thatís probably enough about the
budget this year from me.  I have little
else to talk about but I would just like to comment on Ė the issue of full time
because it is current and people are sort of kicking it around.  And another colleague mentioned that moving
to full time is likely to be a precursor to other things.  I think that is absolutely right that once
Members become full time we must expect in the next couple of Councils that
there will be a strong move to go towards Ministerial Government.  I have no objection to that.  I think it is an important part in the process
of the development of internal self-government. 
And we pride ourselves very much on the extent to which we are
self-governing but we donít have a Ministerial system.  And so we are not as far developed as some
other Overseas Territories are in terms of internal self-government and I think
a move to Ministerial Government is inevitable in the next sort of couple of
iterations of Assembly.  So I look
forward to contributing to that discussion as we go forward.  It wonít be simple but it probably does need
to be done eventually.


I would just mention Travel
arrangements.  I spent a lot of my time
travelling recently as some of my colleagues have mentioned.  I am off to the C-24 shortly.  I have just come back from a C-24 seminar in
Ecuador.  I had the pleasure of sitting
next to the Chairman at lunch one day and asked him when he was going to come
and visit the Falklands.  He said he would
once he finished this job.  It was too
difficult.  There you are.  Thatís his view.  But we will have another crack at it when we
get to New York in a week or so.  But
there may be signs of some inward looking in the C-24.  There are some members of the C-24 who are
embarrassed about the way that the committee functions and their ability to
make any progress on delisting countries. 
And there may be a little bit of movement that we can take some
advantage of that.  So we will see what
happens between now and when we get there and do a bit more pushing and a bit
more kicking.


I was interested to see a report
today about the OAS yesterday Ė the Inter-American Convention against Racism.
Racial Discrimination and related forms of intolerance recognises the
enjoyment, exercise and protection under conditions of equality of all the fundamental
rights and freedoms of all persons.  I am
looking forward to Argentina signing that today and putting it into practice
perhaps tomorrow.


The Honourable Sharon Halford has
mentioned the teams going to Guernsey and Bermuda.  It will be a very great pleasure to head off
to Bermuda with 45 Athletes in 4 or 5 weeksí time and represent the Falklands
once again in the sporting context.  All
our athletes do a fantastic job representing the Falklands overseas.  And we look forward to some success on the
sporting field and some success off it.


I support the Motion.


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