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President of Seychelles talks about missing $ 6.7 million, foreign workers, cannabis and cost of living

Victoria, Seychelles | August 17, 2017, Thursday @ 15:07 in National » GENERAL | By: Daniel Laurence Edited by: Betymie Bonnelame | Views: 6693
President of Seychelles talks about missing $ 6.7 million, foreign workers, cannabis and cost of living

President Danny Faure held his third live press conference on Wednesday. (Jude Morel, Seychelles News Agency)

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(Seychelles News Agency) - President of Seychelles Danny Faure gave the third news conference of his presidency on Wednesday. SNA provides an overview of the issues covered.

Issue of the missing $6.7 million (SCR 90 million) from the report of the auditor general

President Faure said he respects all institutions and it is not his intention to interfere in the process of investigation.

“What I can point out is that the matter of FIU (Financial Intelligence Unit) and NDEA (National Drug Enforcement Agent) is under the microscope by the Finance and Public Accounts Committee in the National Assembly. In their last resolution, they have asked all concerned authorities to answer questions on their financial expenses.”

Faure added that as the president, "I need to make sure that public money is well spent and accounted for. I expect that all concerned authorities will answer questions to establish the actual facts.”

A report made by the Auditor General and presented in the National Assembly last month by the leader of the opposition, Wavel Ramkalawan, found that $6.7 million (SCR90 million) has gone missing. The report relates to payments made by the Seychelles National Drugs Enforcement Agency (NDEA) and the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) to two companies in Mauritius.

Marvin Asba, missing since June 29

The Seychelles’ head of state said he knows that Seychelles as a whole is praying to see this young man. He said that the investigation started too late and that the police should have been more aggressive and proactive to find Marvin within 24 hours.

“The police wasted too much time before starting their search and investigation. Never in Seychelles should the police dwell in paperwork when a citizen comes forward with a complaint,” said Faure.

This case has brought forth the fact that there is no clear protocols that the police follow for their investigation and Faure said that “we need to set up protocols within the region so that we can quickly contact experts in the region and that time is not wasted in future cases."

The police are getting the assistance of Interpol to find Marvin Asba who has been missing since the end of June. (Seychelles Police Force) Photo License: CC-BY

Marvin, a 27-year-old from the eastern Mahe district of Anse Aux Pins, was last seen on June 29 at the Bel Air car wash on the outskirt of the capital Victoria. He was reported missing to the police on Monday, July 3rd. South African experts are in Seychelles to assist with the search.

On the issue of a local publication promoting the legalisation of cannabis

“Drugs have become a societal problem. This is the reason why I have signed the law on Monday to establish the agency that will deal with the education and prevention of drugs,” the president said.

He highlighted that Seychelles is living in a democratic country where the freedom of speech is guaranteed by the Constitution. “Although cannabis is an illegal drug under the law, we cannot arrest a person who is using a newspaper to promote it,” said Faure.

The president said that there should be more discussion on this subject and that concerned authorities should come forward with their positive point as what is happening currently might be shaping people’s thinking.

New presidential elections

The head of state said that there will be no new presidential elections as he is planning to serve his full mandate.

Faure, who was the vice president in the former President James Michel’s administration, assumed the office of president on October 16 after Michel resigned.

The president told reporters that, “The first encounter I had with the opposition was to change article 55 in the constitution to abolish the practice of passing of power.”

Previously Article 55 of Seychelles’ Constitution says that the island nation's Vice President assumes power in the event of the President’s death, resignation or removal from office. It did not say that new elections must be held, a point that has been challenged on several occasions by the opposition parties as it had allowed two of the island nation’s former presidents to hand-over power. The new amendment states that in the event that the post of President becomes prematurely vacant, the Vice President would assume the Presidency until an election is held.

Employment and quota for foreign workers

Faure said he has directed the new ministry of employment, immigration and civil status to evaluate the current situation of the labour market to employ more Seychellois.

“A quota system for foreign workers has been set up based on the demand of the private sectors. Training institutions have been set up as well to train Seychellois workers to take up positions currently occupied by the foreign workers,” he added.

STA students putting their skills into practice. (Patrick Joubert, Seychelles News Agency)

On the other hand, the president said that if Seychellois wants to take ownership of industries like tourism and retail, they need to work hard.

According to statistics from the ministry of employment, there are 11,000 foreign workers in Seychelles, a group of 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean.

Poverty alleviation

Faure said that there are different factors such as the amount of accommodation and devaluation of the rupee contributing to the high cost of living in the country.  He added that when the minister of finance presents the national budget for 2018 in October, he will announce the new strategy to bring down the cost of living.

A poverty and equality survey carried out in 2013 by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) found that around 40 percent of the 93,000 inhabitants of Seychelles are living below the poverty line. NBS placed the poverty line estimate at SCR 3,945 (around $300) per adult per month. 

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Tags: Financial Intelligence Unit, National Drug Enforcement Agent, National Bureau of Statistics

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