Social security age motion rejected by National Assembly |30 March 2023
The motion to repeal Statutory Instrument (SI) 137 (2022) which provides for the social security age to be increased from 63 to 65, in accordance with Section 64 (2) of the Interpretation and General Provisions Act was yesterday rejected by the National Assembly.
The motion was brought by the leader of the opposition in the National Assembly, Hon. Sebastien Pillay.
In his introduction, Hon. Pillay expressed, on behalf of his side of the table, United Seychelles (US), concerns over the lack of consultation and presentation of the SI by government, prior to publication in December 2022.
The SI took effect as of January 1, 2023.
Hon. Pillay urged the members to consider repealing the SI especially considering that amendments in the Seychelles Pension Fund’s legislative framework in 2022 effectively raised the retirement age from 63 to 65.
“Social security is guaranteed under the Social Security Act, and the budget is set aside by government. For the year 2022, the budget under retirement benefits was R820,593,000. This means that all of those who benefit from social security is guaranteed by government.”
“Personally, I feel that it is dishonest of government to do so in such a manner. A lot of people, despite not being able to reach retirement age, were relying on the support from their social security to be able to take some rest, and they had already cycled out their works, and planned this out. So, there was a legitimate expectation by those who are turning 63 that they would qualify for their social security,” Hon. Pillay asserted.
The social security benefits was one of the remaining means through which government could maintain a sense of social cohesion, towards ensuring that all elderly citizens are able to live a life with dignity, he said, stating that the decision “is not acceptable”.
Hon. Pillay called out to citizens to be prepared to stand if government does not change its position on the matter.
Along the same lines as those argued by the party leader, Hon. Egbert Aglae, Hon. Sylvanne Lemiel and Hon. Wallace Cosgrow all argued that there was not enough consultation on the matter.
Hon. Aglae said the decision will cause a situation whereby elderly citizens begging become the norm, arguing that the government was not responsible in taking such a decision.
“My concern is why the Ministry of Finance failed to talk about the subject, to prepare those who will be affected by the decision.”
“We are living in a difficult Seychelles, where the cost of living is sky-high. We need to review this and be conscious. I would urge government to review the situation of the country, our economic situation, buying power, especially that of our elderly citizens,” Hon. Lemiel said, calling out to government to delay the SI, until the economic situation improves.
Hon. Wilbert Herminie, Hon. Johan Loze and Hon. Churchill Gill, representative for Baie Ste Anne, Praslin also pronounced themselves on the matter.
As for Hon. Rocky Uranie, US representative for the Inner islands, he pointed out the difficulties faced by many elderly citizens in making ends meet, and in finding employment during their more advanced years, due to employers favouring younger talents.
Linyon Demokratik Seselwa (LDS) members also put forward their perspectives on the motion.
Leader of government business, Hon. Bernard Georges in his intervention said the opposition has used cheap politics to play with the emotions of a vulnerable group of people within society.
Hon. John Hoareau made reference to the Article 37 of the Constitution which makes reference to the social security system, noting that it is up to each government to decide on the age, rate, or modality, based on the current economic situation.
Hon. Hoareau asserted that the arguments by US members are not well founded and sensational, and that the arguments do not make economic sense, arguing that the decision was necessary for economic reasons if the system is to remain sustainable for the generations to come.
Chief Whip Sandy Arissol also expressed support for the S.I due to much wastage and “irregularities” in the social security system in the past.
“We will continue to sustain all Seychellois who need to be sustained, without exception,” Hon. Arissol said.
Similarly, member for Grand Anse Praslin Hon. Wavel Woodcock and member for St Louis Hon. Sathyanarayan Naidu also expressed their views on the matter.
Hon. Kelly Samynadin, member for Au Cap, accused US members of being hypocrites who failed to point out that former US President Danny Faure during the July 2017 State-of-the-Nation address announced that their government would initiate an amendment to the law to raise the retirement age from 63 to 65 to take effect as of 2023, for sustainability reasons.
Along the same lines, Hon. Florry Larue pointed out that a number of US members who are presently sitting in the seventh assembly were members of the sixth assembly and were indeed present when the announcement was made by then-President Faure.
All US members voted in favour of the motion, while the 23 LDS members voted against.