HARD WORK AND DETERMINATION IN THE FACE OF ADVERSITY
President James Michel has called on the people of Seychelles to work hard and take greater responsibility to preserve the socio-economic achievements of the country, in the face of growing global economic hardships, as well announcing that the introduction of the Value Added Tax system would not be introduced next month. The statements were made during the President’s National Day address at Unity Stadium this evening.
The National Day Parade was attended by the Prime Minister of Mauritius Dr Navinchandra Ramgoolam, as the guest of honour.
“We have achieved a lot, especially in the last four decades… And we should be proud of what we have accomplished as a people. There are many other achievements which distinguish us as a nation. As examples, we are the first in Africa and 52nd in the world on the United Nations Human Development Index. Again according to the United Nations we are top in Africa regarding E-government. The whole world acknowledges our leadership role in sustainable development and environmental protection. We have also earned worldwide recognition for our empowerment of women and the youth. Among our other achievements that make us proud are our macro-economic reform programme, our University, our Young Leaders training programme, and our successes and our sustained fight against piracy. I take this occasion to commend all Seychellois who have worked hard, who have scored successes great and small. Our achievements are our pride,” said the President in his address.
The President noted that the joy of the national day is tempered by the absence of two Seychellois fishermen, Rolly Tambara and Marc Songoire who are still being held hostage in Somalia.
“ We have a special thought for them. I want to reassure the families of Rolly and Marc that we will pursue all our efforts to have them freed. Let us continue to pray for their return to our country safe and sound, to their families.”
The President spoke about several key national issues, of which below is a short selection of topics.
Global economic turmoil
The President spoke about the importance of confronting adversity with determination especially in the face of continued global economic turmoil.
“The situation in several countries is really hard, and may get even worse. There is no immediate solution. Austerity, less spending, sacrifices and more sacrifices – these are the only remedies they can think of. The difficulties of large economies have become global problems whose consequences impact us. The cost of commodities is rising. Tourist arrivals from certain countries have dropped. Our hotels have to lower their rates and there is a consequent decrease in revenue….. In this situation we have to remain vigilant and not slide backward. We have to ensure that we preserve the social and economic gains we have earned with much effort. We cannot regress. In this uncertain world we have to tackle the difficulties we face with determination. No one will gift us anything. We have to take our responsibilities. We have to work hard, even harder, for our families, for our children. We have to strive for Seychelles, this New Seychelles that we want to take forward”
The President said that Seychelles would continue to work together to bring the peoples of the Indian Ocean together, and paid special tribute to the Prime Minister of Mauritius and his friendship with Seychelles.
“The bonds forged over time by what Mauritius and Seychelles share together – our history,our language and many cultural aspects, our democratic and human values, our ocean, and, in a world that is increasingly complex and in turmoil, we have a strong desire to work together for the wellbeing and prosperity of our two peoples and of our Indian Ocean region, for the interests of small island states, and for a world economic and political order that is more just and harmonious. It is my wish – and I know it is yours too – that Mauritius and Seychelles strengthen their links even further, in many fields.”
Employment and budgeting
The President noted that there is no shortage of work in the country and that people should take up these opportunities, and at the same time try to live within their means.
“ Work is waiting for workers. Let us work to produce, to create wealth, to avoid falling into need, and to avoid becoming dependent on the state.This is the first condition for us to not lose our gains and to ensure that we continue to progress. Another condition is for us to know our priorities well. We have to be realistic and live according to our means. We cannot have everything that we desire all at once. It is important that we avoid wastage, and plan our budget, balance our expenditure with the revenue we earn through our work. And it would be good if we are able to put a little aside for the hard times .It is important that we use our resources, our money, wisely.”
Cost of goods
The President noted that the Seychelles’ free market economy does not have price controls and that competition is supposed to be a principal factor in price regulation. However, the President has asked the Seychelles Trading Company to diversify its sources of supplies overseas in order to get better value for its imports and as a means to bring more competition in the local market, and in this way to “bring down prices as far as possible and give all Seychellois a better deal.” The President has also asked the price of goods be published in the media to “allow the public to judge for themselves, and make their choices.”
The President has asked banks in which Government is a shareholder to review the terms of repayment for housing loans, “with the aim of alleviating the difficulties which some people may be encountering in repaying their housing loans.”
The President announced that the Government has decided not to introduce the system of Value Added Tax system this July as planned in order to facilitate “ the good performance of the private sector and to stimulate the economy during this period.”
Small business loans
The President noted that the Small Business Financing Agency pools the resources of the commercial banks and Government to facilitate the funding of small businesses on more favourable terms and that the Government also offers partial guarantees in certain cases.
“I take this opportunity to wish the owners of small businesses success and encourage them to manage their businesses well, to plan well, to repay their loans on time and to eventually invest further so that their enterprises will flourish and help to strengthen our national economy.”
Harsher sentences for child abusers and drug traffickers
The President announced that the Government had prepared legislation for harsher sentences for persons who are convicted of child abuses as well as drug traffickers, and that these would be presented to the National Assembly shortly.