State of Nation response: Opposition Leader says Seychelles' roadmap not clear
The Leader of the Opposition spoke about Seychelles being blacklisted by France and the European Union. (Seychelles Nation)
(Seychelles News Agency) - The leaders in the National Assembly gave their responses to President Danny Faure's State of the Nation's Address on Tuesday.
The Leader of the Opposition, Wavel Ramkalawan, said that one of the biggest lessons he took from the State of the Nation address is that for Seychelles to progress there must be a serious plan.
"Mr. Faure did not show us a road we have to take and he did not address the challenges that our people are facing today," he said.
Ramakwalan said that if the government had a serious plan it would not have presented a second budget in the space of three months and that "it is unfortunate to see that we will need to enter into a finance exercise very soon in the next quarter of 2020."
The Leader of the Opposition spoke about Seychelles being blacklisted by France and the European Union.
He said that this "can affect not only our economy but our country. It is clear that we need to have a serious national debate on what we need to do to avoid this situation. We know that this has to do with our financial sector more particularly 'offshore.'
Ramkawalan also talked about the drug situation in Seychelles and that "we need to recognise that heroin and cocaine have destroyed a large portion of our population. The figure 10 percent of our population is in contact with drugs I find really worrying and Seychelles does not have a choice, we need to intensify the fights against drugs."
Along the same line, he said that more attention should be given to the Seychelles Exclusive Economic Zone and proposed four things that should be a priority for the country.
"Seychelles needs a Coast Guard well equipped to protect us from illegal fishing and drugs; a new law that gives the Coast Guard more authority should be made; the role of the army should be revised; the budget for the SPDF (Seychelles People's Defence Forces) should be principally for the Coast Guards which includes the air wing. With these reforms we will be protecting our economy better and also boost up the fight against drugs," said Ramkalawan.
He welcomed the announcement that Value Added Tax will be removed from food items but believes that this should go further.
"Mr. Faure you should give an order to STC (Seychelles Trading Company) to stop using middlemen and buy commodities directly and immediately the price of food items will go down by 15-30 percent," said Ramkalawan.
On the subject of internet cost, he said that Seychelles can do better.
"We are still too expensive and this becomes an obstacle in our development because today it is the internet that makes the world go round," he said. He added that this is why the Linyon Demokratik Seselwa (LDS) insists that the Department of Information Technology (DICT) puts pressure on the companies providing the services.
On his side, the Leader of Government Business, Charles De Commarmond, said that the address did not only look at where Seychelles is today but where it was yesterday.
|De Comarmmond said that the address embodies very well the long-term vision 2033 launched in August last year. (Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY|
"I welcome the address that our President made on the state of our nation because it touched all the essential points in a calm and convincing manner," he said.
De Commarmond said that the address has shown that President Faure wants Seychelles to remain a stable country and that "for him what is primordial is that Seychelles comes out the winner. Our country before all else. This is the direction a true leader should take."
He added that Faure did not come with excuses but confessed that there are many challenges that he and his government is facing but also recognised that in the last 42 years Seychelles has made a lot of progress.
On the subject of the cost of living, "President Faure has said that the 16th March 2020, VAT (Value Added Tax) will be removed on all food commodities. Is that a government that does not have the interest of the people at heart?" asked De Commarmond.
The Leader of Government Business said when the President goes on overseas missions he speaks on behalf of the Seychellois people.
"President Faure believes in working with other countries, establish contact with countries that are friends, keep the friendship with countries helping us and our pragmatic diplomacy where the pole gets benefits from," he said.
De Comarmmond said that the address embodies very well the long-term vision 2033 launched in August last year.
"The success of the long term vision depends on the work of each citizen, in the state system or not. More than that the Vision 2033 appeals to all partners to work together towards the creation of an inclusive future and sustainable for all," he said.
He ended on the subject of the district election.
"We are giving schools more autonomy. This is fantastic as the schools are in our community. So it is fitting that the whole community also gets its autonomy and that I where the district councils become more important," said De Commarmond.