Seychelles' President bids adieu to difficult 2020, hints at big change for 2021
Ramkalawan also wished all Seychellois a blessed and Happy New Year 2021. (State House)
(Seychelles News Agency) - The Seychelles' President Wavel Ramkalawan in his New Year message has asked citizens to change the way they do things and become part of the answers and solutions during this difficult time.
Ramkalawan also wished all Seychellois a blessed and Happy New Year 2021.
In his message, the President said that 2020 has been one of the most difficult years for Seychelles and that there are no signs yet that 2021 will be much better.
"Glimpses of hope flash from time to time, but they are soon drenched with disappointment. The recent surge in numbers of Israeli tourists was a most welcome development and while our hopes were high, things took a negative turn overnight. We will continue to experience such occurrences, but what is most important is for us to become more robust as a nation," he said.
Ramkalawan said that while many things happened in 2020, the year was marked by two main events: the 250th anniversary of the first official settlement and the first peaceful transition of government since independence.
"In a sense, both marked new beginnings for our country. The birth of Seychelles as a nation and secondly a test to reassure us and the world that we are indeed a mature nation, a fully-fledged member of the international community. Unfortunately, both occasions could not be fully celebrated due to the presence of COVID-19," he added.
The President said that the answers are inside ourselves as a nation and "it all begins with me, with you. Pretending that we are not part of the answer or solution will not help us rebuild this country and give the future our children and future generations deserve."
Citizens of Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, need to change their ways, said Ramkalawan.
"We have to understand that today we cannot continue living the way we have been used to. The government and I will stand by you in these times of sacrifice, hard work and limitless innovation. We have to come together as a nation. I realise that I was elected at the most difficult time any leader would have liked. I believe it was for a reason and I will be faithful to the task this nation has put on my shoulders," he said.
Ramkalawan announced that there will be many changes this year in many areas and this will include welfare assistance and attitude to work in the public service. He said he will elaborate on the subjects in his State of the Nation address early this month.
"Welfare assistance will take a new dimension. Before calling at the office for welfare assistance, the first door you should have knocked at is the employment centre. Soon there will be new announcements," he said.
A new attitude to work will have to be adopted in the country the president said and added that during the month of December many have fought for a bonus. "Let me remind all workers and their strike instigators that it should not have been a bonus you should have been fighting for, but rather to guarantee a salary in 2021."
Ramkalawan took the opportunity to renew his appeal for those who work in the public service to take a business attitude in their ways of delivery and that "those who do not pull their weight in 2021 will be asked to consider alternative employment and their contracts will be terminated."
He also appealed to the private sector businesses to reward their workers in an appropriate manner and saluted those that are doing it.
The President said that with the current economic difficulties the country is facing there will be reforms within government, but there will also be new burdens on the population.
"For example, PUC (Public Utilities Corporation) will soon announce an increase in electricity tariffs due to an increase in the price of fuel. The changes in government will range from management to policy changes. Many Boards, CEOs and PSs will be changed while certain governmental organisations will be closed due to duplicity," he said.
He also touched on the drug and alcohol abuse that is at the centre of the majority of social ills in the island nation.
"2021 will be a determining year in the elimination of hard drugs in our country. The fight will be ruthless as we release imprisoned communities and free our youth. You have been warned. We will also be taking a stronger stance on bringing alcohol abuse under control," said Ramkalawan.
He ended in praying the God of love to bless the Seychellois nation and its children and that "I commit my people under your care as I humble myself before you. Thank you for 2020. We commit 2021 in your hands. Have a Blessed New Year."