St Helena Online

Tag: financial secretary

£3 million enterprise body is vital for better future, says Paul

Disquiet over the funding of St Helena’s new enterprise agency has prompted the island government to release the text of a statement by Financial Secretary Paul Blessington.

Runners head away from Prince Andrew School in the Festival of Running
The tourism office – which staged the festival of running – is now part of Enterprise St Helena

Enterprise St Helena (ESH) was set up at a cost of nearly three million pounds – but most of that was coming from the UK Department for International Development (DFID).

That investment was vital to giving Saints a brighter future when the island has an airport, said Paul.

The statement was delivered at a meeting of the island’s legislative council after Councillor Cyril Gunnell asked for the finances to be explained.

Paul said: “Public debate has shown a lack of understanding about how and why Enterprise St Helena is being funded.  I therefore welcome this opportunity to set the record straight.”

He said the agency was set up “to help private enterprise flourish on the island” as work began on its first airport.

The St Helena Development Agency merged with the Tourism Development Project to create the ESH.

Total funding for ESH in 2012-13 is £2,763,863. DFID is providing 76% and the remaining £460,000 is being put in by St Helena Government. That’s about 1.6% of SHG’s budget.

“Just under half  (49%) of the £2.76m is existing funding from the old SHDA and tourism projects, whilst just over half represents new funding for additional activities.”

New funding includes:

  • £112k for seeking new investors
  • £140k to develop commercial sites
  • £89k to provide extra help to businesses
  • £105k for skills training
  • £14k for support to the fishing industry.

Paul said economic development was the top priority in the island’s new Sustainable Development Plan.

“Unless St Helena successfully grows its private sector economy, on the back of the opportunity provided by the airport, there can be no long-term improvement in living standards for current and future generations of Saints.

“There are many competing demands out there for scarce public funds, but this government has wisely agreed that some of those funds must go towards economic development, if progress is to be achieved.

“An extra commitment of 1.6% of the budget is a relatively small price to pay in relation to the potential long-term return to the island.  This is about investing now to ensure a brighter future – a future with more money to invest in essential services such as education, health and social welfare.”

Colin passes the potato test – but the ketchup tastes funny

So now we know the kind of deep psychological testing used to flush out wobbly candidates for top jobs in the St Helena Government. Call it the potato test.

In a profile on the Wales Online website, Colin Owen reveals how he was tossed the unexpected curve ball when he and his family decided to escape to a new life on the island three years ago.

“In my interview they asked me if I could live without potatoes for half a year,” says Colin, who’s just been promoted to become the island’s next financial secretary. He didn’t flinch. “I thought it was a completely bizarre question at the time and answered that I’d have rice or pasta instead, but living here now I can see why they asked it. We can go for months without certain foods.”

And that’s not the only strange thing about life on St Helena. “The Heinz tomato ketchup is from South Africa, not the UK, so it tastes different.”

The internet piece describes how Colin first decided to seek a new professional adventure when he realised his job in London meant he saw too little of his children.

“It’s been fantastic,” he says. “St Helena has given us so many opportunities as a family, whether it’s fishing, watching the dolphins and whales in the bay, scuba diving or walking.”

His description of the island? Like North Wales, but slightly warmer.

Read the full story in the 13 July 2012 issue of the St Helena Independent.