Executive Council met today with just one substantive item on the Open Agenda which was a request to endorse the recently developed Fisheries Investment Prospectus. Members noted that whilst the financial position of the St Helena Fisheries Corporation was still precarious, good progress has been made by the Fisheries Working Groups. Members were especially pleased to note that premium fish is being landed and brought into the factory and have been exported after being processed.
Members commended the Fisheries Working Groups for the excellent progress made and recognised the importance of the local fishery as a natural resource. Executive Council endorsed the Investment Prospectus with the proviso that a robust marketing plan is implemented to ensure that the opportunity is advertised as widely as possible both offshore and locally. It was also stressed that any investor must be required to sell fish to the local market.
Under any other business, Members were informed that the Social Impact Assessment of the MOU is being finalised, having suffered a brief set back whilst the Social Impact Assessment of the Connect Saint Helena Ltd tariff proposal took priority.
Under the closed agenda, Members considered options for the future of the Mantis St Helena Hotel whose operations were being adversely affected by the low visitor numbers to the Island. Four options were presented which included:
Closing the Hotel
Mothballing the Hotel during the current low season
Approving additional finance with a corresponding share issue to compensate SHG
Allowing Enterprise St Helena to take a further equity stake in St Helena Hotel Development (SHHD) Ltd
Members discussed the options in the context of the recently launched ESH Business Support Initiative where a quarter of a million pounds will be made available to help small and medium sized accommodation businesses who have invested in the tourism sector.
It was noted that closing or mothballing the Hotel would incur additional expenditure in excess of the amount needed to keep the Hotel operational for the period under consideration.
It was also noted that this was the first time that SHG has been asked to finance the company since its launch in 2016.
In considering the options, Members noted that the Mantis St Helena was pivotal to the Island's tourism industry as a whole. It was also noted that the Hotel would not qualify under the ESH Business Support Initiative and that as an SHG asset, Government would be protecting its investment in keeping it operational.
After much discussion, Members agreed to issue a Special Warrant to authorise Pound 350,000 for a further equity investment into SHHD Ltd using additional revenue received from the process of winding up St Helena Line Ltd to offset the expenditure. This would be subject to the following conditions:
SHHD Ltd would accelerate work to bring to Executive Council before the end of this Financial Year a fully developed proposal regarding options for a public share offering by the company
That the Hotel Management Agreement is evaluated and the findings shared with Executive Council before the end of this Financial Year
That ESH Tourism is asked to bring a policy paper to Executive Council which sets out plans for increased marketing of the Island as a tourism destination, during 2018 and 2019, including the results of attendance at the recent tourism trade shows
The meeting closed at 12.40pm.
Source: St Helena Government