On the sidelines of the 110th session of the International Labour Conference |11 June 2022
President Ramkalawan addresses Heads of State for the World of Work Summit
President Wavel Ramkalawan yesterday took part in the Heads of State for the World of Work Summit under the theme ‘Tackling Multiple Global Crises: promoting human-centred recovery and resilience, virtually held on the sidelines of the 110th session of the International Labour Conference (ILC), organised by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), which is being held in Geneva.
Addressing the Heads of State and Government, and other prominent delegates, President Ramkalawan underlined how the Covid-19 pandemic affected Seychelles’ economy and the immediate actions the government had to take to remedy the situation.
He also spoke about how the vaccination programme permitted the country to re-open its territory to the rest of the world in March 2021.
However, he highlighted the uncertainty is still at bay with ongoing global conflicts that continues to influence the food prices and with major consequences for global food security.
“Seychelles has had its fair share of challenges since the Covid-19 pandemic made its appearance on our shores. The situation quickly deteriorated for our small nation. Overnight the airport was closed and our tourism industry, the mainstay of our economy, crashed by over 80%. Businesses struggled to keep their workers and the country’s economy found itself gasping for survival. We managed to maintain workers through a government financial stimulus to businesses coupled with brave political and economic decisions, taken at the right time to permit our fragile economy to get back on the road to recovery,” said the President.
He continued, “Government promoted a change in mindset and empowered our fellow Seychellois to join formal employment that support decent and stable work. This was to ensure that the economic costs of the pandemic were moderated, yet simultaneously managing the health risks and avoiding generational burden of the costs. I must say there was the acceptance that the overall cost of the pandemic would have been far greater without a more proactive approach. This was made possible by a substantial rise in visitor arrivals, increase in labour demand, the vaccination of the population and the dedicated efforts of our health workers and our efforts in setting expectations in times of high uncertainty. Having a vision and a plan mattered.”
President Ramkalawan also spoke about economic diversification, which he stressed will enable each country whether big or small to safeguard what has been earned through hard work. There he questioned how leaders of the world can commit to leading their people to better times and how to encourage young people through the challenges that they are facing.
“Fellow leaders, our message should be one of hope. Our actions and policies should present hope for our people, while we fight the scourges of corruption, exploitation and injustice. Seychelles attaches herself to the ILO’s commitment to such standards. Workers are at the centre of the recovery process. They must not be left out. On the contrary, they must be given prominence and protection. Such an approach is important because it means there is willingness to listen to our people’s voices. It means we commit to providing them with a future where their rights at work are protected, employment opportunities are created, access to social protection is available for all and harmonious industrial relations are promoted through social dialogue.”
“Let us give our youth the encouragement that they deserve and are waiting from us. I am encouraged to see that many Seychellois youths have persevered during these difficult times. One example is the jobseekers of our skills development programme, which was funded by the ILO during the Covid-19 pandemic crisis. They are today happily working or pursuing their studies further. This is testimony that recovery from the crisis relies on partnership and networking with our multi-lateral partners. Let us pursue these in order to meet the aspirations of our people,” said the President.
To conclude, President Ramkalawan called on all world leaders to work together at this crucial time with the aim of keeping the peace so that they could all focus on rebuilding their nation and a better future for their people.
“With the support of our partners, such as ILO and other UN agencies, we will continue to grow and strengthen our resilience to avert any future disasters that may come our way. In conclusion, I must say that as a nation, the Seychellois people have withstood this inconceivable adversity admirably and I am proud to stand before you today as their Head of State and to say I am confident that we will triumph. Seychelles remains determined to act for its people and we join other Member States in working towards a human-centred recovery economy,” said President Ramkalawan.
The International Labour Conference is the ILO’s highest decision-making body. It meets annually in June, bringing together the tripartite delegations from the Organisation’s 187 member States. This year, Seychelles is being represented in Geneva, Switzerland by the Minister for Employment and Social Affairs, Patricia Francourt, who is heading a tripartite delegation.
Press release from the Office of the President