Biodiversity Protection Act signed into law

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The first legislation of 2016, and the twelfth Act to date, was signed into law by the Co-Presidents yesterday at Orchardstown. The Biodiversity Protection Act 2016 is also the third Act to cover environmental affairs, following the Agricultural Regulations Act 2015 and the Municipal Waste Collection Act 2015. The law is split into two sections, each covering an aspect of biodiversity. The first article concerns the genetic diversity of seeds, while the second concerns the biodiversity of native wildlife.

The first article established a National Seed Bank, a government agency which will promote the protection of seed varieties, and serve as a repository for seeds. Varieties will be selected, catalogued and stored, with a view to multiplying them through further cultivation. The Confederation Seeds Company, established last year, will be obliged to assist the Seed Bank by donating some of its stock every year and assisting it in acquiring varieties of interest. The provisions given in the first article make the National Seed Bank the most powerful government agency established to date, which reflects the government’s priorities in agriculture.

The second article aims to enhance the welfare of native wildlife. Areas of the Confederation of natural significance will be designated as nature reserves. Commercial activities will be forbidden in these areas in order to protect the native wildlife and their habitats. In addition, species of native plants and animals will be catalogued by the government, with certain species being given a protected status in order to preserve and enhance their welfare. This second article was left deliberately vague in order to give the Government the widest scope possible in terms of the way they can carry out these activities, as well as perform other activities to reflect the positions in this Act.

In other news, the government of Ipainia, which holds diplomatic relations with the Confederation, has published a lengthy report on agriculture in the micronational community. “Agriculture in Micronations” explains the term agriculture, the status of agriculture globally, and the agricultural sectors of five micronations: Timeria, Überstadt, Siar Fordell, Leylandiistan & Gurvata and Ipainia itself. The agricultural sector of Leylandiistan & Gurvata receives extensive coverage in the report, and covers the development of the sector in the Confederation over the past two years, as well as the beverage and seed production sectors which have developed from it. “The great interest in developing agricultural sectors in various micronations is a matter of delight for me”, said Co-President Ó Cathail. “I would like to see more cooperation between nations on the matter of agriculture so we can collectively advance our efforts, perhaps through a formal agricultural pact”. The Government gave extensive praise to the report on their twitter page, @LeylandiiGov, as seen below.

Though the Government met briefly to sign the above act into law, it will meet again in the coming days to discuss its plans for the year ahead. Unsurprisingly, the agricultural sector will be central to the economic outlook of the government. The failure to trade goods with any micronation in 2015 will be a matter for the government to resolve in 2016, though the numerous agreements agreed with other nations regarding trade in 2015 will no doubt assist in these efforts. The government’s foreign policy will also be formally reviewed for the first time since the September 2014, given that circumstances in the micronational community have altered considerably since then. A government plan for 2016 may be released in the coming days, and if so will be published on Béal na Tíre as soon as it becomes available.

Lastly, Béal na Tíre is delighted to report that 2015 was our best year to date. Our readership increased 46% despite the number of articles published decreasing by a third from 2014. We will aim to improve further on these levels in 2016, publishing more regularly and further increasing readership. We encourage readers to interact with us on Twitter and Tumblr. We wish our readers a happy new year and great success for 2016! Athbhliain faoi mhaise dhaoibh a chairde!

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Tax devolution repealed as treaty signed with Lundenwic

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Above: Lundenwic and Leylandiistan & Gurvata have agreed to a comprehensive bilateral agreement in a number of areas, including economic co-operation.

The Recentralisation of Tax Collection Act 2015, the shortest act of legislation in the history of the Confederation, was signed into law today, marking the end of three months of tax collection by regional authorities. The act repealed the Devolution of Financial Powers Act 2015 and re-enacted the National Treasury Act 2014. The Co-Presidents cited difficulties in funding national projects and government departments under the multiple treasuries model, as each treasury would have to make a proportional contribution to each item of government spending, which would delay significantly any spending. The local decision making on how proceeds of the National Contribution Charge would be spent, which was supposed to arise from devolving taxation, did not in fact occur. Lastly, the ratification and balancing out of multiple regional and national budgets within the National Budget in May 2016 was predicted to cause mayhem and delay the publication of the National Budget significantly.

The government has reverted back to the one budget, one treasury model, which it said makes the spending of government funds much smoother, and reduces significantly unnecessary bureaucracy. Co-President Ó Cathail said: “No harm has been done by this experiment in devolution. We have learned a valuable lesson by sampling two different models in taxation, centralised and devolved, in the past year. That lesson is that the centralised model is more efficient and effective in a small nation like ours.”

A treaty with the Imperial Grand Duchy of Lundenwic has been signed by both Co-Presidents. The comprehensive bilateral agreement covers a broad range of areas, including economic co-operation, diplomatic arrangements and conflict resolution. The Co-Presidents described it as “the most significant treaty signed yet” with another nation. Lundenwic will likely be one of the first nations to receive seeds from the Confederation as the first exports leave Orchardstown and Eastrip over the course of the next month.

In other news, Co-President Ó Cathail will visit Dooneen Cove Island, the Confederation’s only uninhabited territory, over the course of this weekend. The visit will mark one year since the annexation of the island by Leylandiistan & Gurvata. One of the duties which will have to be carried out, apart from raising the Confederation’s flag, will be to ensure the declaration of annexation is still in place on the island. Béal na Tíre will be reporting on the outcome of the trip to Dooneen Cove Island.

Taxation powers devolved to regions as trade agreement reached

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Above: The National Treasury has had much of it’s taxation duties transferred to Regional Treasuries

Regional Treasuries have been established in both constituents of the Confederation in the first of a range of areas which will be devolved to the regions of Gurvata and Leylandiistan, the two constituents of the Confederation. The Devolution of Financial Powers Act 2015 was signed into law by both Co-Presidents today. The government is now required to ratify three separate budgets in the National Budget in May; it must decide which taxes are to be collected by the National Treasury and which ones will be collected by the Regional Treasuries. At Budget Day, all three treasuries must submit their budgets for review and ratification. The Co-President of each region will now take control of their respective Regional Treasury, unless they delegate this duty to another citizen.

The law will take effect in 7 days to allow the necessary changes to take effect. The National Contribution Charge will now be collected by the Regional Treasuries, to allow them to take control of the three grant schemes outlined in May’s National Budget. The NCC funds amassed so far will be proportionally redistributed among both Regional Treasuries before next Thursday in accordance with the new act. While the NCC will be raised by Regional Treasuries, VAT will continue to be the National Treasury’s responsibility, while a decision on Corporate Profits Tax will be made when the first CPT returns are due.

In other economic news, a preliminary agreement on a trade deal with Siar Fordell has been reached. The Foreign Secretary initiated dialogue with the North American micronation when a discussion on agriculture yielded a shared interest between both countries. Siar Fordell and the Confederation are now looking to finalise a deal where bell pepper and tomato seeds from Siar Fordell would be exchanged for Leylandiistani rocket, chive and herb seeds. The deal will be completed before the end of the month, and further agreements on other areas of trade could be made before Autumn. Béal na Tíre is aware that the Confederation’s government is also discussing similar trade arrangements with other non-SJEP members.

Two acts passed to regulate economy, promote agricultural sector

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Baile an t-Úllghort, 5ú Márta –

The Co-Presidents met again today at Orchardstown to review and sign into law two acts which they felt necessary to ensure the growth of the economy. The first act to be signed into law was the Registrar of Commercial Entities Act 2015. It created the Registrar of Commercial Entities, a body run by the National Treasury to oversee the activities of companies operating within the Confederation, and to give citizens a facility through which to establish a company. An official register will be kept listing all the commercial entities legally trading within the Confederation. The Registrar will issue Certificates of Incorporation to new companies who meet the regulations, and possession of this document will be mandatory to operate in Leylandiistan & Gurvata. The National Treasury will also have to analyse the accounts of all companies at the end of the year, while companies based in the Saint Josephsburg Economic Pact can trade in the Confederation by applying for an operating license, a privilege not granted to companies from other countries.

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The logo of the new State Organic Regulation Authority (SORA)

The second act, the Agricultural Regulations Act 2015, transformed the agricultural sector today. Firstly, the first micronational organic certification programme was set up, with a new agency, the State Organic Regulation Agency (SORA) to manage it. Secondly, all agri-chemicals, a new legal term referring to synthetic inputs in agricultural practises, are prohibited, though a list of inputs approved by SORA will be allowed for use by growers in the Confederation. Section 1.4 firmly established the government as a proponent of the organic movement, as the growing of genetically modified organisms was outlawed entirely.

The government will also begin supporting farmers in the Confederation through new agricultural payments appropriated in the National Budget. Payments will typically be made directly to farmers. However, the Act also allowed for the formation of agricultural co-operatives, where farmers could work collectively and use common funds to improve equipment and facilities. The Act allowed agricultural payments to be made directly to these co-operatives, meaning a farmer’s funding would be made to his/her co-operative instead of to them directly.

Finally, construction work is nearing completion at Orchardstown, where the most exciting development in the Confederation’s history is due to take place. A purpose built building for use by the government and neighbouring co-operatives is being built north of An Fheirm, south of Orchardstown. Work is also being carried out at An Fheirm Cooperative, where the amount of land being cultivated is being tripled. More on this in our next report!

Ordnance Survey established, plans begin for year ahead

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Baile an t-Úllghort, 29ú Eanair –

Map of Dooneen Cove Island

Above: The first edition of the OS map of Dooneen Cove Island

On Wednesday, 21 January, the Co-Presidents met at Orchardstown to discuss national affairs. Two acts which had been drafted beforehand were signed into law, while plans were put in place for the year ahead in the agricultural sector, which is mostly state-controlled.

The Government Bodies Act 2015, the first bill of the year, was the first to be signed into law. It creates four categories of government sub-body: an office (similar to a department, e.g. the Foreign Office), an agency (e.g. the Ordnance Survey), a state company and a semi-state company. The latter two have been differentiated from each other in order to preserve the Confederation’s natural resources. Semi-state companies may have some private interests as shareholders or directors, but only state companies, which will remain under the full control of the government, may extract natural resources. Funding to all government bodies is to be appropriated by the National Treasury in the Budget, which will be released later this year.

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Logo of the Ordnance Survey

The first government body to be set up by the government was done through the Ordnance Survey Act 2015, which set up the Ordnance Survey of Leylandiistan & Gurvata. It will be “responsible for all the cartographical and surveying needs of the Confederation”. As the national mapping agency, it has released a map of Dooneen Cove Island, the Confederation’s only uninhabited territory, and is due to release one of Leylandiistan. It may sell maps and other publications to fund its activities.

At the meeting the government also began planning the year ahead for the agricultural sector. Seeds have already been purchased, and a full list of crops which will be grown in Eastern Gurvata’s plots and at An Fheirm in Leylandiistan will be released soon once plans are finalised. Béal na Tíre can reveal that among the crops grown will be rare crops like globe artichokes, fenugreek and soybean, which are cheaper to grow locally than import. A trial plot of sugar beet will also be grown, and once harvested in autumn the country’s potential to reduce sugar imports will be assessed. Sugar beet seeds have been acquired, and equipment needed to extract the sugar is already in place. All crops will be grown organically, with plans in place to outlaw a large number of agri-chemicals proven to pose a threat to the environment or human health. Unofficial “planning permission” has been granted by Orchardstown residents to the co-operative to double and possibly triple its cultivated land. Béal na Tíre will organise a special agricultural report when the growing season begins in spring. We will also release any announcements from the government with regard to the agricultural sector.