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Talks on gov't salary increase in Seychelles to re-open after top court quashes president’s suit

Victoria, Seychelles | November 29, 2019, Friday @ 16:25 in National » GENERAL | By: Patsy Athanase Edited by: Betymie Bonnelame | Views: 5046
Talks on gov't salary increase in Seychelles to re-open after top court quashes president’s suit

The unanimous judgment was delivered on Friday morning by the Court comprising of Justices Ronny Govinden, Laura Pillay and Gustave Dodin. (Rassin Vannier, Seychelles News Agency) 

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(Seychelles News Agency) - The Seychelles Constitutional Court on Friday dismissed the petition brought by President Danny Faure against the Speaker of the National Assembly, Nicholas Prea.

The petition was in relation to the annulment by the National Assembly of a regulation which makes provision for a five percent increase across the board for government employees, meaning higher-paid employees would receive more money in their 5 percent raise.

Prea welcomed the ruling and said he will now call on the National Assembly to engage in more discussions with the government on the Public Service Salary Amendment Bill 2019.

"The National Assembly and the executive need to sit down and discuss the matter further in order to reach a consensus which is acceptable to both parties," said Prea.

In the unanimous judgment delivered on Friday morning, the Court comprising of Justices Ronny Govinden, Laura Pillay and Gustave Dodin said, "The National Assembly acted within the ambit of the law and their action was constitutionally valid and permissible."

Faure's lawyer, Alexandria Madeleine, had argued in her submissions that the National Assembly interfered with Faure's constitutional rights when it annulled SI 18 2019.

On his part, Prea's counsel, Joel Camille, told the court that the National Assembly acted within the law when quashing the SI and that it had "unfettered power to do so."

Both parties made their submissions to the court on October 22. On March 19, the government presented the Public Service Salary Amendment Bill 2019 to the National Assembly seeking approval for a five percent increase across the board for government workers. This meant that higher-paid workers would get a bigger increase.

The opposition members in the National Assembly objected and said the budgeted amount should be shared equally with employees who qualify to get the same amount of increase.

With no consensus reached by the due date of April 1st, the government said it will implement the increase through a regulation which was the Statutory Instrument (S.I) 18 of 2019.

The S.I. which is a form of delegated legislation allowing the government to bypass the parliament, was quashed by the opposition members in a special sitting of the National Assembly.

Speaking after the unanimous decision, Speaker Prea said he was glad that the court has ruled in his favour as he always believed the National Assembly's action was legal.

"I always maintained that the National Assembly acted in accordance with the Constitution. We follow procedures and the Standing Orders that we use are in line with the constitution," he said.

Prea added that since there were two documents before the National which were asking the same thing – a Bill and an S.I. – it was agreed that the SI had to go.

Faure's counsel was not available for comments.

The President had initially filed two petitions against the National Assembly's decision.

The court on September 17 dismissed the first petition which was requesting that the Supreme Court exercise supervisory jurisdiction in relation to the National Assembly's quashing of the Statutory Instrument.

In the second petition, the Constitutional Court ruled the case had merits and dismissed all five objections presented by Prea's lawyer who was given until October 22 to make his submissions.

It is the first time in the history of the third republic of Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, that a Speaker was being held accountable for the decision taken by the National Assembly. 

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Tags: National Assembly, petition, Public Service Salary Amendment Bill 2019, Standing Orders, Statutory Instrument

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