Saint businesses need to put their prices up so they can pay higher wages, according to the man driving St Helena’s economic transformation.
Julian Morris told Saint FM: “Wages on the island need to increase because, in my view, the standard of living is not high enough.
“That, in turn, is going to drive a general increase in the charges for many things.”
Prices and wages needed to rise faster than the costs that businesses were paying out, said the government’s chief executive for economic development.
“One of the surprising things is when I ask people, ‘When did you last increase your prices?’ Often it’s, ‘A long time ago’.
He also said Saints must put aside jealousy and work together to meet the challenge of business competition from overseas.
“People tend to be quite jealous in their outlook,” said Julian. “The island is opening up to external competition. We need to get people to work collaboratively – instead of knocking what people are trying to do, actually support one another.”
St Helena Government had to sharpen up too, he said. “Cutting red tape is continually talked about by people in the private sector. We’ve got to see how we can make decision-making faster.
“Availability of land is another area: to put up warehousing, build homes for Saints or build tourism sites. The island’s got plenty of land: what we need to do is find a way of enabling people to get access to it.”
He admitted that people on the island – including in The Castle – had not been ready for the pace of change in recent months.
He said: “We have the resources. The thing we’re most short on is time.
“From when the airport contract was signed, frankly, we were behind the game. We weren’t organised, so we, as the whole island is, are scrambling to get organised. But you know, I think we’re making up. We’re making a lot of progress.
“We’ve got an outstanding team of people who want to do the right thing for St Helena and who want to see Saints and Saint businesses take advantage of these opportunities, so it’s really exciting.”
I wonder why it is that having read this I am starting to get a little nervous about the future for the people of St Helena?
I fear that prices will increase enough when the island no longer has freight coming in on the RMS St Helena at low rates subsidised by the British Government.
– John Tyrrell, UK
Reflections On A Journey To St Helena (blog)
Enterprise St Helena