Freedom of information bill to be sent to Seychelles’ National Assembly, Vice-President says
Vice-President Vincent Meriton was part of a conversation with reporters on Friday about several topics, including investment and industry, development of islands, the blue economy and telecommunications. (Patrick Joubert, Seychelles News Agency)
(Seychelles News Agency) - The Seychelles' Vice-President said legislation concerning the freedom of information will go to the National Assembly for approval in April.
The update from Vice-President Vincent Meriton was part of a conversation with reporters on Friday about several topics, including investment and industry, development of islands, the blue economy and telecommunications. SNA details the conversation below.
Right and Access to Information
Meriton said government leaders should become more open and accountable to the people. The new bill should address that.
“The final phase of the bill was completed last week and it will be brought before the assembly on April 11 for approval. When this becomes a law into itself, it will oblige government to become more proactive in the sharing of information that they generate,” Meriton said.
Investment and Industry
The development of Seychelles’ industrial zone by investors has been debated in the National Assembly, the island nation’s legislative body.
Meriton said these zones have been established for small and medium enterprises to give a service that will contribute into the development of the economy.
“However, we need to ensure that these lands are used and developed accordingly by promoters.”
He added that: “We are now working in close collaboration with the office of the Attorney General and together we are going to review all the existed lease agreements.”
The government will find a way to take back land from developers that are not abiding to their terms and conditions, said Meriton.
Meriton said that the Seychelles’ islands must be used to their full potential to promote more economic activities such as tourism and agriculture.
“I have been briefed that there are two local companies which have showed interest to invest in this domain. The outer islands can also be used for housing development,” the Vice-President said.
In regards to the opportunities available for local investors in the business of transportation between islands, Meriton said that “there is a lot of potential for us to tap into this area.”
The Blue Economy
As a small island state and with limited land resources, Seychelles is dependent on the ocean, and according to Meriton “we also have to protect our alimentary, coastal and marine resources.”
The Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) has raised the red flag to signal overfishing of the yellow tuna fish in the Indian Ocean and Seychelles will be the most affected.
Meriton said, “Therefore, it is high time that we think of ways to practice smart fishing, while reflecting on sustainability.”
Seychelles, a group of 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean, has a vast Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of 1.3 million square kilometres of ocean and the Vice-President said that the ‘blue bond’ is something that the government is using to further the agenda of the blue economy.
“This will enable residents to access loans at a low interest rate to take part in ocean-related projects,” Meriton added.
Meriton spoke about the frequent internet outages and high cost for usage and said that the Government has met and discussed with the local operators.
Meriton said, “We have to work together to promote free and fair competition. There has already been a drop in the prices but the people still believe that it is too high.”
The office of the Vice-President is responsible to oversee the Departments of Information, the Blue Economy, Investment and Industry, Information, Communications and Technology (ICT), and Risk and Disaster Management until it becomes an autonomous organisation.
The Vice-President's office is also in charge of Civil Society and all issues related to religious denominations and also inner and outer islands.