Financial Secretary Dax Richards this afternoon delivered his first Budget Speech for St Helena, following agreement of the Financial Aid budget settlement of Pound 28.7 million for 2017/18.

Financial Secretary Dax Richards said:

I believe that 2017/18 can bring about the change needed to turn around the fortunes of the Island and our people. This year's budget will see an increase in public spending on essential services of Pound 5.8m � the largest increase we have had year on year. This complements the anticipated start of commercial air services later this year.

It is so important for all of us to work in partnership in order for everyone on the Island to benefit and put us on the path to becoming more self-sufficient.

Highlights from the 2017 speech include:

Total recurrent public spending is planned to be just over Pound 42 million in this financial year. This is an increase in spending of some Pound 5.8 million compared to last financial year

Total financial aid support for this financial year will be Pound 28.7 million. This is an increase of Pound 6.2 million from last financial year, representing over 27%

The most significant spending increases are on Shipping, Health, Education and Safeguarding

Spending on Health will increase by Pound 250,000 (4.5%)

Spending on Safeguarding will rise by Pound 267,000 (7.3%)

Spending on Education will rise by Pound 270,000 (8.9%)

2017/18 will see a further increase in both Basic Island Pension (BIP) and Income Related Benefits (IRB), at a cost of Pound 100,000

Additional support in the year ahead for fishing

For the year ahead, there are no significant changes in taxation

A reduction in the rate of customs duty to 5% on renewable energy generation and storage systems like solar panels, photovoltaic panels and wind turbines

A reduction in the rate of customs duty to 5% on rain water storage

The basic rate of tax remains at 26%, personal tax allowance stays at Pound 7,000 and income tax paid by companies stays at 25%

Total forecast revenue for the year is Pound 42.1 million

The impact of exchange rate fluctuation and inflation continues to put pressure on the budget

Annual inflation of the retail price index is currently 4.7%

Source: St Helena Government

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