State of the Nation: Seychelles' President focuses on family; drug, alcohol use to be targeted
Seychelles' President Danny Faure presenting for the first time his State of the Nation Address to the National Assembly. (State House)
(Seychelles News Agency) - Seychelles’ President Danny Faure focused on the family during his first State of the Nation address on Tuesday, proposing a number of measures the government will be taking.
“To understand the state of our nation, it is important that we understand the state of our families, our communities, our society, and our democracy,” said Faure at the beginning of his address.
The Seychelles' head of state spoke about the social ills eroding the foundation of society, namely drugs and alcohol.
“A new approach which recognises that we need to wage two wars – one to reduce the quantity of drugs entering the country and one to reduce the demand for drug consumption in the country,” said Faure, speaking to the National Assembly in a speech broadcast live on national radio and television.
The NDEA will be reformed and transformed from the 1st of March to reflect this new strategy, Faure said, adding that new Secretary of State Patrick Herminie will be providing more details on February 15.
Faure also announced that following the advice of the Prison Authority, the Ministry of Home Affairs, and the Speaker of the National Assembly, the government has decided to close the prison on the island of Marie-Louise before September.
On the issue of alcohol, President Faure said: “Increased alcohol consumption is another serious problem also affecting our families. The quality of alcohol being consumed is affecting the health of our citizens. Our children are able to access alcohol far too easily.”
Faure said the National Assembly ought to have a frank debate on this subject and to make some concrete recommendations and that the time has come to depoliticize this problem.
In the same line, Faure said that after discussions with several local partners, "I have decided that as from the 15th of March, there will be a new Ministry, called the Ministry of Family Affairs."
Another difficulty that Seychellois families are facing is housing. The President said “each family ought to be assisted in line with their genuine needs, and each family ought to contribute in line with their means. This is a rule which we should never break.”
Furthermore, the new approach will use different policies and mechanisms to assist different bands in the society.
The same will apply in the health sector, he said, which will move towards a comprehensive health information system.
Faure said the island nation's education system needs to reflect the new economy.
“It must impart new competencies and skills that the public and private sector need. It must also impart new skills that empower our citizens to embrace and be able to deal with today’s exigencies. This is a request emanating from the Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the tourism sector,” he said.
Faure announced that the Ministry of Education is taking the necessary measures to reorient the education system and that will need more consultations with parents and teachers.
Several measures will also be put in place along that line including a laptop scheme from the Secondary One level, Wi-Fi in schools and a new system ensuring that the five best students in each of the post-secondary institutions will be offered an opportunity to further their studies.
“This will apply to students who completed their post-secondary studies in December 2016,” said Faure.
As the future of Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, also depends on the types and levels of support given to small and medium, Faure has proposed a number of changes.
“All new small businesses that meet certain criteria will benefit from seed capital of SR 25,000 and we have reached an agreement with the commercial banks that they will provide the remaining financing,” he said, adding that the Minister of Finance, Peter Larose, will give more details on this on February 17.
There will also be a new policy whereby employers will no longer need to seek permission to keep an employee past the age of 63 and can keep these persons until the age of 65.”
The new policy is to take into account that Seychelles in a few years time will have more than 10 percent of its population above the age of 63.
For the development of other islands, among the changes being proposed, the head of state said, “I would like to announce the opening up of air transportation between Mahé, Praslin and the inner islands for any Seychellois investors.”
He also added that, "As from the 1st of March this year, we will ban the exportation of the Coco de Mer kernel as a raw material."
Faure also announced that numerous bills will be soon submitted to the National Assembly, including certain amendments to the Constitution.
An important one is public access from a main road to reach all beaches in the Seychelles applying to public or private properties, now or in the future.
Faure also said that the implementation of the comprehensive Progressive Income Tax due to start July 1 will now take place in January 2018.
Faure concluded his address saying, “I would like to thank the people of Seychelles, for their devotion and hard work. I thank them for their contribution in bringing Seychelles to where it is today.”
Click here to download in full the State of the Nation Address