Herbert Ford, 559-592-0980, 559-732-0313.
NEW PITCAIRN ECONOMIC PLAN UNDER WAY.
ANGWIN (Napa County) Calif., June 9, 2000—Pitcairn Island, most of whose inhabitants are descendants of sailors who mutinied aboard H.M.S. Bounty in the late 18th century, have once again demonstrated a spirit of fierce independence in acceptance of an economic plan to continue human life on the tiny South Pacific isle.
With a threatened depletion of the Pitcairn Investment Fund, which has long provided financial subsidies for transportation and costs of island living, the Pitcairners have rejected a budgetary aid plan similar to one for St. Helena island, another remote British protectorate, and have, instead, chosen a modified subsidy plan which will extend the life of the investment fund.
Seeing the intrusive nature of the St. Helena plan, which includes review of the personal financial status of families, and annual audits to insure that aid is appropriately targeted, the Pitcairners have voted to allow a more than doubling of their electrical charges and the initiation of ocean freight charges on items that were once free of charge or heavily subsidized.
The new economic plan, though, does provide help to Pitcairn's pensioners and families with children, in an attempt to blunt hardship they might incur without such help. Now in its second month of operation, the new plan will be reviewed at the end of six months to assess its effect, say British government officials.
Full details of the new plan have been received by the Pitcairn Islands Study Center, a museum-research facility for scholars, journalists and others, which is located on the campus of Pacific Union College here.
Paradoxically, one of the reasons for initiation of the new economic plan has come about because of the Pitcairners attempt to better their lives. A recent, developing foreign market for dried fruits has found several electric fruit dryers humming away at most Pitcairn homes.
The islanders were charged 20 New Zealand cents per electrical unit, while the cost to the Pitcairn Investment Fund was 50 cents per unit, not including the cost of parts and maintenance of electrical generating equipment. With the growth of the fruit drying industry, the drain on the fund became ever greater. Now study is being given to the use of solar fruit dryers.
Quick to adjust to the realities of the new plan, the Pitcairners are also switching from electricity provided by diesel generator to liquid petroleum gas, at a lower per-unit cost.
The island's new economic plan was developed in concert with an economist and an official of the British Department for International Development by Pitcairn Commissioner Leon Salt. If the plan accomplishes what is expected, the Pitcairn Investment Fund will remain solvent for 10 years, extending it at least five years beyond earlier projections.
According to Commissioner Salt, income received beyond current projections may increase allowances for paid positions on Pitcairn, one of which nearly every adult Pitcairner holds. One such favorable possibility is income the island may receive through a recent recapturing of its Internet domain registry, ".pn," by action of the United States government and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers.
Another attempt to increase the investment fund will include vigorous efforts to increase the sale of Pitcairn's stamps, long popular with philatelists throughout the world. Samples of Pitcairn's attractive stamps can by seen on the island's website at http://users.iconz.co.nz/pitcairn/stamps.htm
Yet another possibility for additional island income is a resurgence in the number of cruise ships calling at Pitcairn. Currently 10 such vessels are on schedule to make calls at the island, where in earlier years only two or three such visits were made. The Pitcairners sell curios and fruits and vegetables to those on the ships.