Opposition leader: Seychelles' budget projections a bit too rosy for reality
The two leaders responded to the budget address of Minister Hassan. (Seychelles Nation)
(Seychelles News Agency) - The two leaders in the National Assembly responded on Tuesday to the budget address made by the Minister for Finance last Friday.
Naadir Hassan, Minister for Finance, Economic Planning and Trade, presented a proposed 2022 budget of just over SCR10 billion ($773million) with the health and education ministries receiving 32 percent of the allocation for goods and services.
In his response, the Leader of the Opposition, Sebastien Pillay, said the budget of the new government is full of inconsistencies and contradictions.
"The minister said that the most difficult journey is behind us and that our economy and financial situations have stabilised and that we have started the long road to rebuild our country. And then later he said although our economy has improved a lot it has still not recovered 100 percent and things have not returned to normal," said Pillay.
He talked about the International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme that has started and that to date not much is known about what has been outlined.
"We would like to know what IMF has to say on poverty that is increasing in our country. In fact, in the whole budget address, there is no mention of poverty which means that every Seychellois can buy what they want, eat what they want and live comfortably. Is that the reality? This brings me to the cost of living. A budget address in a difficult time in our development journey and yet there is almost no mention of the cost of living," said Pillay.
On the diversification of the economy, Pillay said he expected a concrete plan on how this will happen but unfortunately the Minister gave nothing concrete.
"If the government is really serious with its programme to relaunch the economy it has to make an effort to meet with all key actors in the economy and not only with some and then say this represents the positions of everyone," he said.
Another subject Pillay said was not in the budget is corruption.
"I expected the government to make certain propositions on how to reinforce governance against corruption. In the FIU (Financial Investigation Unit) report we saw that several billion rupees is going out of the system and maybe the new government can propose a better way to monitor what is going on and how we can identify if transactions are in order," said Pillay.
The Leader of the Opposition said that the fight against drugs was also not mentioned and the support for the work that must be done to maintain order and peace while respecting the Constitution of Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean.
On his side, the Leader of Government Business, Bernard Georges, said that the finance minister had a difficult task because Seychelles is in a situation where the crisis has improved but there are still problems.
"The 2022 budget is better than the one for 2021 but it is still a deficit budget. The government will spend more than it will collect. Seychelles will have to borrow to finance the budget. This is the reality," said George.
He said that while the 2021 budget was an emergency one, the 2022 budget will consolidate, regulate and modernise the country.
"Our way is to build a resilient economy, and a responsible nation so that tomorrow's crisis will not shake the house because the foundation is solid. This year, has not been easy but it has been one that has tested the ability of a new government and the government passed its exam with good results," he said.
George said that the minister "explained that the road ahead of us is still difficult. The cost of living remains high despite attempts by the STC (Seychelles Trading Company) to bring down the costs of commodities. We've been told that the cost of fuel and freight is still high and this will make it difficult for the government to deal with the cost of living immediately. A shortage of money in the budget means that many capital projects will not see the light of day in 2022."
Despite challenges, he said there is a lot to be satisfied with in the 2022 budget because through it "we are confident that next year will bring more benefits for our country and for each citizen. The new way of doing things is based on giving opportunities and putting structures in place so that will allow each citizen to be what they want to be. The 2022 budget is sowing the seed for future expansion, for the people to flourish and for the well being of our nation."