Falklands : The Portfolio Report of Mr Roger Edwards, MLA
Submitted by Falkland Islands News Network (Juanita Brock) 06.02.2014 (Article Archived on 06.03.2014)
Thank you Mr Speaker, Honourable Colleagues - “The Falkland Islands Government is dithering.” We have lawyers coming out of our ears – what tosh.
KB: Honourable Members I understand that you voluntarily wish to limit the length of these reports to 7 minutes and for questions and responses to five minutes. Is that the wish of this House?
It is the wish of the House that the time limits as stated by the Speaker are carried out.
RE: Thank you Mr Speaker, Honourable Colleagues - “The Falkland Islands Government is dithering.” We have lawyers coming out of our ears – what tosh. I have been reminded by Mr Speaker that I cannot be critical of the judiciary but I would encourage all Falkland islanders to read the front page of Penguin News.
I will start my presentation on my particular portfolios with the Treasury and Taxation Office. I will return to the Attorney General’s Chambers and legal Services, Regulatory Services and the Registry later.
We have heard many times in this House during the recent Motions for Adjournment of the many problems in the Falkland Islands Government and very often this is due to the lack of engagement with staff. I, myself, have asked how one shows leadership by e-mail. I have even referred to e-mails in rather stronger terms and been censored by Mr Speaker.
Today I am only going to cover staff and staffing aspects of my portfolios because these portfolio reports come around every two months.
I am extremely proud to be able to say that across my portfolios staff are engaged, encouraged and endeavour to attain higher professional qualifications leading to higher positions and higher pay. Walking around the Departments, I find a workforce appearing to be happy and enthusiastic.
At the Treasury some 70% of local staff are undertaking or shortly starting some form of formal qualifications, including CAT Accounting Technician, ACCA Accountant and Pension Management Institute Certificate. Succession plans are in place for the majority of contract roles.
Donna Henry should be congratulated on passing her diploma in Accounting and Business. Her job title has changed from Trainee Accountant to Accountant. And she is now progressing on to do her formal professional accountancy exams. Jody Aldridge has recently been recruited into a succession planned role to Senior Accounting Assistant to run the Pensions Office. Jody, Tracey, and Kirsty are all past their first Accounting Technicians exams, Shiralee, her GCSE Maths and Felicity, her ECDL. Very well done to all of them and keep up the good work. Sadly, Sharon Mitchell, our Financial Accountant, will soon be leaving us. She will be greatly missed in the Treasury as her Husband will be by the Royal Falkland Islands Police. I wish you well for the future, Claire and hope to see you back in the Islands in the not too distant future. With Claire leaving, we are now actively recruiting a Capital Accountant, a Financial Accountant and a Senior Assistant Taxation Officer.
The Directorate have six monthly away days to discuss projects, issues, review achievements and work together on business plan objectives. The business plan for this year will be driven by whole directive priorities rather than those just put forward by the Senior Management.
Finally, very shortly we will see the very first student group meeting of the South Atlantic Islands Accountant Association Mentoring Scheme, which provides a forum for advice and support for students, for Government and the Private sector.
I will now move on to the AG’s Chambers. Our current Attorney General, Mark Lewis, will be leaving us shortly, to be replaced by Peter Judge. You will all have seen an article in Penguin News about Peter. Preparations are in hand for a hand-over from Mark when he leaves in March.
Mark has given us tremendous leadership during his time here, especially during the referendum and the more recent election. Thank you very much, Mark. Ronnie, our Legislative Drafter, will be leaving in February after four years. Not only do we wish him well for the future but thank him for all the hard work he has put in, often with a smile on his face and a glint in his eye when faced with a wall of 8 MLAs who regularly put forward nine opposing views. His replacement will be joining in March. Justine Hosking, who has been working on child safe-guarding policies and practices, ends her secondment in February and we wish her well and thank her for the excellent work she has done. EXCO approved recruitment of a Law Commissioner to drive the Revised Law Project forward. The job description is drafted and following evaluation will be advertised.
We now have an experienced prosecutor filling one of the existing lawyer posts – that’s Simon Rowe, who is, at least initially, working exclusively on prosecution, both on the day to day workload and working together with the Crown Prosecution Service secondi, the Police, the other stakeholders, who are improving prosecution practice and procedures. Staffing levels will be back to normal when a new lawyer is due to arrive in February to pick up and continue child safe-guarding, social services work and other general duties.
Regulatory Services are still two staff short – the Technical Assistant and the Regulator – despite three rounds of advertisements. Terrianne Ormond has been succession planned into the Deputy Director of Civil Aviation post and congratulations are due because only yesterday she passed her (inaudible) examination. And, with the 3 papers she sat, they were marked out at 94%, 100% and 100%. I believe that is the highest achievement in this examination by anyone in the Falklands. So congratulations to Terrianne. We wish her well as she continues her further examinations and professional qualifications.
And finally, Mr Speaker, I will end by speaking about the Registry. This is being managed by Beth Dent on her own. It was previously staffed by two full-time Officers. And I feel a special note of thanks should be extended to Beth for the exceptional work she put in for both the referendum and the general election, both of which went off without a hitch and made the news world-wide. Thank you Beth.
Thank you Mr Speaker.
KB: Does any Member wish to comment or raise a question on that report?
PR: Yes Mr Speaker. Thank you very much for that report. It was really good to hear about staff attainments and achievements. I just would like to say how pleased we were on Executive Council on Wednesday to approve the position of Trainee Internal Auditor for the Treasury for two years. This was funded from existing resources and did not require new funds. And I think it was most satisfying to see that the progression in planning in the Treasury for Falkland islanders to take on some of these key positions. It is really welcome.
Turning to the Attorney General, we have plenty of time to say thank you and so on as he is not leaving until March but I would like to just comment here that I think mark has done us a fantastic service. There have been some pretty difficult times for him in the Attorney General’s Department. Nearly everything we do these days there has to be legal advice given about everything and it seems to funnel through the AG’s Department. So thank you very much for working with us through some difficult issues. And some fun things, too and thanks for bringing Archery to the Falklands. I am sure we will have lots of opportunities to say more about you before you go.
The next Report by the Hon Mr Michael Poole follows.