The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development (Mr. Gareth Thomas)
An international invitation for private sector participation and potential investment in possible development of access by air for St. Helena was launched on 7 April 2003. The invitation incorporated a provisional offer by the Department for International Development to44WS contribute up to £26.3 million towards any proposal that may prove acceptable. This sum reflected the estimated capital cost of replacing the island's dedicated passenger/supply ship, as the alternative to developing air access.
Four expressions of interest, incorporating outline proposals, were received by the closing date of 25 July from:
- Basil Read (Pty) Limited (South Africa);
- John Laing International Limited;
- Lagan Holdings Limited; and
- St Helena Leisure Corporation Limited (SHELCO).
A full assessment of these proposals is now being made, with the help of expert advice, in consultation with the St. Helena Government. This process first will establish whether any or all of the proposals offer a suitable basis for proceeding further. If so, respondents may be invited to develop their proposals and, if appropriate, enter negotiations with the St. Helena and UK Governments. We hope to reach negotiation stage by early next year.
In addition, and in parallel, we intend to initiate a process of continuing an independent review using the "Gateway" model. This is advocated for large public investment projects by the Office of Government Commerce, which is advising DFID. It will test the business case for proceeding and help ensure that lessons of other public/private investment are taken into account.
Both the St. Helena Government and DFID have established internal teams to oversee and manage the process. The St Helena Government is now in the course of recruiting a local coordinator. Every effort will continue to be made to ensure that the people of St. Helena, as well as other interested parties, are kept as fully informed as possible of progress and next steps.