2023: A dynamic year for the business community |29 December 2023
“As we reflect on the past year, we are filled with pride and gratitude for the collective efforts of our vibrant business community. Together, we have navigated challenges, celebrated successes, and forged new paths towards prosperity. Covid-19 and the recent catastrophic events of December 7 have shown the great resilience of the Seychelles private sector.
“As we move forward, we remain committed to supporting our members, promoting economic vitality, and building a resilient foundation for the future. Thank you for a remarkable year of progress and partnership.” – Oliver Bastienne, Chairman of the Seychelles Chamber of Commerce & Industry
It was a dynamic year for the business community, with various local and international workshops, introduction of new services, and training among others.
In January, the Seychelles Revenue Commission (SRC) relocated its domestic tax services office to the 'Leve Debrouye' Micro Enterprise Complex in Providence's industrial estate, to address space limitations at its previous location in the Green Corner Building. The move was to reduce client congestion and parking issues, offering a more spacious environment with three permanent officers to assist clients.
The relocation is part of SRC's strategy to decentralise services across the country, improving the ease of business.
In February, there was a panel discussion for tax agents titled 'Unpacking the New Economic Substance Rules – Seychelles', where a licensed tax agent from the Andersen Global network, addressed the complexities and implications of Seychelles' new economic substance rules. The discussion focused on how these rules impact both new and existing businesses and explored their practical implementation.
In March, Absa Group, recognised as Africa’s largest financier of renewable energy, committed to achieving a Net Zero state by 2050 for scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions, aligning with its vision for a low carbon economy. This initiative underscores Absa’s dedication to positive environmental, social, and economic impacts while acknowledging Africa's unique challenges with climate change.
Punki Modise, the Group's Chief Strategy and Sustainability Officer, emphasised the importance of an inclusive transition to a sustainable economy. Absa Group has set a target to reduce its operational emissions by 51 percent from 2018 levels by 2030 and is actively working towards this goal.
In April, Fitch Ratings reaffirmed Seychelles' sovereign credit rating at 'BB-' with a 'Stable Outlook', signalling positive prospects for the nation's economy and investment climate. This announcement was made by Patrick Payet, the Secretary of State for Finance, National Planning and Trade, and it reflected the country's maintained creditworthiness and stable economic outlook.
In May, the Fair Trading Commission (FTC) launched a new Complaints and Market Surveillance Software, significantly enhancing its efficiency in handling and tracking complaints. Funded by the European Development Fund under the Economic Partnership Agreement, the software was introduced at the Eden Bleu auditorium.
This advanced tool streamlines the complaint management process through automation, improved accountability, and data-driven insights. It offers real-time visibility into complaints, enhances user experience, and is equipped with robust security features.
In June, the Seychelles Tourism Department set strategic priorities for 2024-2026, focusing on developing high-value, low-impact tourism. This approach aimed to enhance visitor experiences through improved product quality and diversification. The announcement was made by Principal Secretary Sherin Francis at a strategic meeting held at the Eden Bleu Hotel. The strategy involves attracting tourists who contribute more economically while experiencing the authentic Seychellois culture and environment sustainably.
In July, the Ministry of Finance, National Planning and Trade announced that the Tourism Environmental Sustainability Levy will be implemented from August 1, 2023. This levy follows a three-tiered structure: small tourism accommodations with 1-24 rooms will charge R25 per person per night, medium accommodations with 25-50 rooms will charge R75, and large accommodations including yachts and island resorts with 51 rooms and above will charge R100 per person per night. It is applicable to accommodations on islands other than Mahé, Praslin, La Digue, or Cerf Island.
In August, the Seychelles Pension Fund (SPF) implemented its Business Continuation Plan following an incident where its ground floor offices at Caravelle House were flooded due to a burst air-condition pipe. The plan aims to mitigate the impact of unforeseen situations, ensuring uninterrupted services for employers, members, and clients.
In September, the Seychelles Fishing Authority (SFA) and the Seychelles Chapter of the Comesa Federation of Women in Business (COMFWB) signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to provide training for Seychellois women entrepreneurs and youths interested in the blue economy value chain. This initiative, supported by the Citizens Engagement Platform Seychelles (Ceps), will offer training in fish handling, processing, biology, and the creation of value-added fish products for various sectors, including tourism, aquaculture, and agriculture.
In November, the Financial Services Authority (FSA) initiated an investigation into the International Corporate Service Provider (ICSP) following allegations of its involvement in a scheme to conceal the true ownership of limited partnerships registered in the United Kingdom. According to a statement released by the FSA, the ICSP is accused of forming over 900 UK partnerships, allegedly exploiting secrecy loopholes to hide the real owners, some of whom are identified as Seychelles' legal and natural persons.
Still in November, Nouvobanq and the University of Seychelles (UniSey) formalised a partnership through a memorandum of understanding, focusing on the implementation of a System Applications and Products in Data Processing (SAP) course at UniSey. The collaboration is set to equip full-time students and in-service employees with skills in managing critical business functions through SAP software, known for its efficiency in financial auditing, payments, and accounting.
Also in November, it was announced that starting January 15, 2024, a new fee of R500 per luggage piece will be implemented at the Seychelles International Airport for individuals arriving with commercial cargo. This decision, sanctioned by the Cabinet on November 15, is part of a revised cargo handling procedure aimed at reducing congestion caused by substantial commercial cargo passing through the passenger terminal.
In December, the Seychelles Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) Business Awards 2023 celebrated the achievements of leading entrepreneurs and companies in various sectors. Robert Payet received the prestigious Entrepreneur of the Year award, with Ingrid Saurer and Daniel Hugelman being honoured as the Best Woman Entrepreneur and Young Entrepreneur of the Year, respectively. The event recognised excellence across diverse business categories.
Also in December, Seychelles hosted the prestigious 2023 Mingya Insurance Brokerage Summit, a significant event in the MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions) sector, from December 6 to December 11, 2023. This summit was organised in collaboration with Bravolinks, a MICE travel department under the CYTS Group, and welcomed a large incentive tour group from China, representing Mingya Insurance Company. This event marked a remarkable resumption of business activities with China and positioned Seychelles as an attractive MICE destination.
In December, Seychelles also took a significant step towards bolstering its entrepreneurial and trade sector with the inauguration of the Trade Information and Promotion Centre (TIPC). TIPC aims to serve as a comprehensive one-stop hub, operating from Monday to Friday, providing vital information to a wide array of stakeholders including exporters, importers, trade support institutions, researchers, academics, and the general public.
Another key event was the reopening of Nouvobanq’s newly revamped currency transaction agency at the Seychelles International Airport; a significant enhancement in its customer service offerings. The revamping of the kiosk and the installation of a new ATM were undertaken to elevate the customer and staff experience.
Compiled by Sunny Esparon