In the National Assembly |25 May 2022
Speaker receives Travizory contract, opposition leader contests condition of access
After requesting since March for a copy of the contract that Travizory has with the government, in the National Assembly sitting yesterday Speaker Roger Mancienne announced that he has received a copy of the contract but the leader of the opposition is contesting the condition of access to it.
Speaker Mancienne informed members of the latest development with regard to the request made by the leader of the opposition, Sebastien Pillay, in March this year to get a copy of the Travizory contract with the government of Seychelles.
After several weeks of waiting, Speaker Mancienne announced that he has received the document but in view of the fact that it contains a confidentiality clause, therefore he has to ensure how best it is circulated among Assembly members so that it does not reach public domain.
The clause includes; that information on the services Tavizory provides should not be disclosed to any third party as it plans to entice other potential clients therefore it does not wish this information to reach public domain; information on border control which if it reaches public domain can compromise the process.
‘’I will therefore not take any risks that the document reaches public domain so I have decided that it remains in the Speaker’s office where it can be consulted by any Assembly member but they would not be allowed to copy or scan any part of it. I am satisfied that this would allow Assembly members to know everything they want on the content of the contract. We have to be mindful that confidentiality should remain a matter that concerns our Assembly when it comes to the issue of circulating a document. With regard to the other document requested which is the financial report of Travizory which was expected to be ready end of March, Speaker Mancienne said he has been informed that the document will be registered at the office of the registrar. Therefore any member of the public can access it so it would not be necessary for the Assembly to make an official request for a copy but the report has not yet been submitted to the office of the registrar and Travizory has until October to do so,” Speaker Mancienne stated.
For his part Hon. Pillay, citing different sections of the National Assembly’s Members’ Privileges and Immunities Act, contested Speaker Mancienne’s decision stating that once a document comes in the possession of the Assembly it is a public document.
He said it is very strange that the Speaker has accepted to bring the contract to members in this way.
“I am really worried by these developments and I find it strange that it is the Minister for Transport who is addressing us about border control. I would have expected the minister responsible for border control to have formerly written to the Assembly to inform it of the decision. So for me it is clear that the minister for transport does not want the public to know the content of the contract. I feel that the Assembly is aiding, abetting and supporting an action which is not normal in a democratic society. The contract is for the people of Seychelles, it is affecting the people of Seychelles, it is being implemented on behalf of the people and money is being collected on the back of the people and thus I believe the contract should be a public document,” Hon. Pillay insisted.
“If Travizory is discussing its agreement elsewhere, this is its concern but it has signed a contract with Seychelles and its people and it is our people who were going through and paying for the process set up by Travizory until the United Seychelles party brought the issue to the National Assembly to stop our people from paying while going through the process,” Hon. Pillay highlighted, noting that he deplores the fact that the executive is trying to muzzle the Assembly preventing it from working as it should and he has demanded that the contract is made public for our people to know its content.
The leader of government business, Hon. Bernard Georges, noted that while the Assembly has its privileges and practices, its Standing Orders clearly states that there is no right to appeal the Speaker’s ruling which is final but it is clear that since assuming the position of leader of the opposition, Hon. Pillay has never accepted any of the speaker’s rulings but has appealed and challenged them to emphasise his point to have the last word.
“I am imploring you Mr Speaker that from now on after you have made your ruling do not allow anyone permission to appeal your ruling which is final as stated in the Standing Orders,” stressed Hon. Georges.
He went on to remark that all Assembly members will have access to the contract and that he does not understand where Hon. Pillay’s point of muzzling by the executive comes in as the Speaker also made it clear from the start that the contract contains a clause of confidentiality.
Hon. Georges went further to remind members that in the previous government when Mr Maurice Loustau-Lalanne was asked by Assembly members to provide copy of a contract he also referred to a non-disclosure agreement in that particular contract which he should respect.
“So it is a practice that when there is a clause of confidentiality or non disclosure clause we have to respect that because the Assembly is not above the law to force the government or any other party to breach a non-disclosure clause,” Hon. Georges pointed out.
He also reminded Hon. Pillay that if he has put a question to the minister for transport he should not expect the minister responsible for border control to come and answer. If he wants clarification on border control he should put a question to him directly.