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National Assembly – State-of-the-Nation address by President Wavel Ramkalawan |23 February 2024

National Assembly – State-of-the-Nation address by President Wavel Ramkalawan

President Ramkalawan delivering his State-of-the-Nation address (Photo: National Assembly)

‘Fixed election dates, no more presidential immunity’


By Laura Pillay


President Wavel Ramkalawan urged lawmakers during his annual State-of-the-Nation speech yesterday to back the 11th Constitutional Amendment.

The proposed amendments aim to establish fixed election dates and stem from the Linyon Demokratik Seselwa (LDS) manifesto on which he was elected to power in October 2020.

Aside from implementing fixed election dates, the amendment seeks to eliminate presidential immunity provisions.

"It will also remove the Article which gives the president the possibility of stepping down and immediately calling an election to test the waters, as we say. There is no testing of the waters. If a president steps down, this means that he/she goes out and new elections will be held,” President Ramkalawan clarified.

Furthermore, the proposed changes would redefine the circumstances under which the vice -resident assumes presidential duties after an elected president steps down, specifying when new elections would occur.

The amendments will be tabled to the National Assembly in the first quarter of this year.


Truth, Reconciliation and National Unity Council (TRNUC)

Regarding the Truth, Reconciliation and National Unity Council (TRNUC), President Ramkalawan echoed the commission’s call for a national apology. He expressed remorse for Seychelles' past, urging all victims to accept the state's apology and join efforts for national unity, reconciliation, and perpetual truth-seeking.

“I want to express regret for all that has happened, all the sufferings which our nation went through during these dark years,” the head of state said.

He noted that even before receiving the TRNUC’s final report in March 2023, his administration initiated steps towards national reconciliation. Notably, the State Land and River Reserves (Amendment) Act 2023 paved the way for returning undeveloped land acquired by the government, to rightful owners.

President Ramkalawan pledged further implementation of TRNUC recommendations, particularly regarding victim compensation, which he acknowledged as a significant challenge.

The president emphasised the need for collective solutions to address the substantial compensation required, encouraging national reflection and recommendations. He highlighted additional compensation obligations, such as those for La Misère residents who were affected by polluted water, residents of Baie St Anne Praslin who were affected by the Public Utilities Corporation's (PUC) power station, and others affected by fungus infestation, which the government must fulfil.

The TRNUC cost the state R54.1 million, he added.

The TRNUC was established following a motion by President Ramkalawan before he assumed office, as the leader of the opposition in the National Assembly. Former President Danny Faure endorsed the law with a shared perspective of seeking the truth, and working towards reconciliation and national unity, he said.

President Ramkalawan's call to the nation was to uphold unity, placing the country above all else. Highlighting the potential for Seychelles to serve as a global model, he expressed confidence in the nation's future if unity is maintained, regardless of differences in religion, skin colour, political beliefs, or sexual orientation.

"What I see today is a dynamic country, a country that is complicated, a country which has achieved a great number of things, but at the same time, a country, which when looking forward sees a lot of challenges."

"Seychelles is for each of us… we all form one people, and that is the Seychellois nation," President Ramkalawan said.

He further stated that he envisions a Seychelles admired by future generations, filled with trust, solidarity, pride, and joy.


Role of government and civil service

Addressing the public, President Ramkalawan expressed concern over misconceptions about the role of government and citizens' responsibilities. He emphasised that the government is not separate from the people, but begins with individual actions and responsibilities. He stressed the importance of citizens taking ownership and contributing to the functioning of the government.

The president urged a better understanding of the government's role and asserted the need for citizens to support and strengthen it.

Regarding leadership training, Mr Ramkalawan outlined its importance, mentioning executive programmes undertaken by top officials in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to broaden perspectives.

Mentioning ongoing training for civil servants, President Ramkalawan declared zero tolerance for sabotage or inefficiency in the civil service in 2024.

"I want to make it clear that Seychelles belongs to all of its children, but bad children who do not want to work for Seychelles will be asked to stop working and to seek alternative jobs," he said.



Highlighting the importance of strengthening democracy, President Ramkalawan urged for a commitment to truth and balanced media coverage.

He highlighted the need for government institutions to maintain independence, even if it means facing challenges from other branches.

Addressing the media, he called for fair and accurate reporting, cautioning citizens against blindly accepting information.

He assured the public that his administration is open to feedback and willing to adjust policies based on consultations.

Moreover, he stressed the urgency of fighting corruption which still remains an issue, whilst respecting all branches of government to uphold the rule of law, he added.

“The law in Seychelles applies to all Seychellois. And if we want to live as good citizens, we need to uphold the law.”


Welfare and cost of living

Tackling welfare, President Ramkalawan said it was imperative that there were significant reforms as there was a lot of corruption, preference and victimisation within the system.

In 2023, the government increased assistance to those in need. As from January this year, seven statutory benefits were increased. These are paternity and maternity benefits for self-employed and casual workers, semi-orphans and orphans, foster children and foster parents, as well as allowances for expectant mothers from the inner islands.

A new benefit targeting women who are having multiple births was also introduced.

The increases vary from 81 percent up to 233 percent for the different benefits, he stated, adding that the government is committed to caring for those in need, through the Agency for Social Protection (ASP).

He however urged home carers to take opportunities to up the standard of care to older citizens.

President Ramkalawan acknowledged the global issue of high living costs, mentioning efforts by the Ministry of Finance, National Planning and Trade, along with the Seychelles Trading Company (STC), to reduce prices of commodities, including essential goods and construction materials.

“I want to call on the private sector to join us as the administration in our efforts to lower the cost of living,” President Ramkalawan said.

Expressing concern about youth unemployment, he stated that even under 5 percent of unemployed youths is too high.

President Ramkalawan added that the employment department remains dedicated to training and improving skills among young people, while continuing the localisation programme.

The National Assembly will debate on a new Employment Act during the year.


Peace and order

The president reassured that his administration is continuing its fight against drugs.

“I want to make it clear today that out administration and the party which I represent is against drugs”, he said, calling on all political parties to stand against drugs and not politicise the war on drugs.


Facilities and ease of doing business

The Seychellois diaspora in the United Kingdom (UK), France and the UAE will soon be able to access their biometric passports.

All Seychellois will be able to access birth, marriage and death certificates online.

In regards to ease of doing business, President Ramkalawan said a lot of work is ongoing towards digitalisation, and the government’s role as a facilitator for the business environment.

The imminent Investment portal and government accelerator projects are expected to greatly improve ease of doing business.


Youth and sports development

Speaking about sports facilities, President Ramkalawan announced that the track for Stad Linite has been delivered to the country, and Chinese contractors will arrive in March to install it.

He urged National Assembly members to arrange additional activities for young people, and commended the Seychelles National Youth Council (SNYC) for its renewed focus on youth engagement.


Government projects for 2024

Government will undertake numerous projects in 2024, including the Port Victoria rehabilitation and extension, the new airport, and West Coast road project.

Other ongoing projects include the La Rosière school, the Drugs Rehabilitation Center, Remand Centre, SRC House, Independence House renovations, the Regatta site development, the Victoria Waterfront development.

“All of these seek to make our nation’s lives more comfortable,” President Ramkalawan said.

The government remains committed to deliver on housing and smaller district-level projects,   President Ramkalawan added. In 2023, 151 smaller projects to a sum of R19.6 million were realised. The 2024 budget has been increased to R26 million, which is expected to fund 240 smaller projects.

An additional R10 million has been earmarked for the construction of small roads.

President Ramkalawan stated that the government is exploring various funding sources for housing projects.

He highlighted efforts in 2023 to provide more land to Seychellois families, noting that a land bank project in Anse Royale is presently underway.



President Ramkalawan shared positive news about Seychelles' economy, stating that the economy grew by 3.3 percent in 2023.

He highlighted a budget surplus of R487.8 million and a reduction in government debt to 60 percent of gross domestic product (GDP).

Addressing misinformation about Seychelles' tourism industry, he noted a 6 percent increase in visitors in 2023 compared to the previous year.

“The reality is that by February 11, 2024 there were 40,422 visitors who arrived in the country. And when you compare February 11, 2023, this represents an increase of 17 percent,” President Ramkalawan stated.

He mentioned upcoming developments in the tourism sector, including new hotels and increased airline connections.


Agriculture and the environment

President Ramkalawan announced progress in agriculture, stating that government’s intervention to subsidise animal feed has been crucial to the development of the sector.

The agriculture department will this year undertake projects such as a farmers’ market on La Digue, Anse Boileau and La Retraite.

There are also plans to upgrade the Praslin abattoir and build a new facility in Providence, as well as assisting farmers with smaller infrastructure projects.

However, President Ramkalawan also seized the opportunity to urge Seychellois to be mindful of the environment, emphasising ongoing efforts to address environmental issues.

As for fisheries, one of the administration’s priorities is on improving services and facilities for fishermen. Projects are earmarked for Anse Etoile, English River and Anse à la Mouche.

“This year, at Anse aux Pins, we will open the largest fishing facility in our country, since this administration assumed power,” President Ramkalawan stated.

The government is also accelerating efforts to make zone 14 a fish processing zone, whilst also exploring facilities to repair industrial fishing vessels, and aquaculture.

Measures aimed at protecting stocks of marine resources should not be perceived negatively, President Ramkalawan stated, urging collective effort to protect the industry.


December 7, 2023 disaster

Addressing the December 7, 2023 disasters, President Ramkalawan expressed pride in the way his administration has handled the disasters and the crippling Covid pandemic.

He thanked the nation for the show of solidarity during the crises.

All affected families have received the R25,000 assistance, to a sum of R 21 million, he added.  Within two months (February 7, 2024). The Property Management Corporation (PMC) had repaired 175 houses, President Ramkalawan stated.

Some 80 percent of affected business are back in operation, he said.

The president added that the investigation into the CCCL explosion is still underway.

In concluding, President Ramkalawan stated that Seychelles has over the last three years become a global model with whom many countries wish to be associated.

He thanked all Seychellois and partners for their contributions, once again reiterating his plea for national unity, hard work and reconciliation, to safeguard Seychelles’ future.

President Ramkalawan also reaffirmed his dedication to work for a bright and prosperous Seychelles.

“Forget the noise, focus on the work,” he said.

The Sona is in line with Article 65 of the Seychelles Constitution.

The replies to the Sona will commence on February 27, starting with leader of the opposition in the National Assembly Sebastien Pillay, followed by leader of government business Bernard Georges.


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