THE relationship between the Falkland Islands Government and South Georgia Government "brings both direct and indirect benefit to the Falklands" assured Government of South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands (GSGSSI ) Chief Executive Helen Havercroft after a member of the public expressed concern on a related issue.
The individual invited Penguin News to investigate why details of the deal with Government of South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands for the provision of public services and resources was being kept from Falkland Islanders.
A Memorandum of Understanding between the two governments put to Executive Council late last year was not made available for public scrutiny.
Ms Havercroft told Penguin News that as a fellow Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom, "the Government of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands (GSGSSI) is delighted to operate from the Falkland Islands."
She emphasised, "GSGSSI does not consider any of its working relationship with the Falkland Islands Government to be sensitive; indeed, there is a good story to be told. All GSGSSI personnel who work in the islands live in privately rented accommodation, pay income tax to the Falkland Islands Treasury, thereby contributing to vital public services. "Further, GSGSSI reimburses the FIG for the limited professional services it draws upon, the nature and cost of these services being set out in a Service Level Agreement."
Ms Havercroft said however the relationship between the two governments extended far beyond public services and, "brings both direct and indirect benefit to the Falklands. For example, the GSGSSI Fishery Patrol Vessel is leased from Byron Marine, generating not only revenue for local companies, but also highly skilled employment. The FIG and GSGSSI also cooperate in areas of mutual advantage, such as developing biosecurity services to protect precious wildlife, collaborating on scientific endeavour to better understand our environment and tourism. Nearly all tourists to South Georgia travel via the Falkland Islands, bringing valued business to retail outlets and hotels throughout the season. In short, GSGSSI operating from the Falklands is good for both governments and Falkland Islanders."
Penguin News was unable to obtain a response from relevant Members of Legislative Assembly on the question of why the MOU had not been made public.