One Seychelles reacts to statements made by President Danny Faure in his televised address to the Nation |25 March 2020
‘The only constructive way forward is to strive for unity’
One Seychelles, a political party representing Seychellois in the 26 electoral districts in Seychelles, is under the leadership of former Minister for Tourism Alain St Ange.
It is important to state that our call to the government of Seychelles for an open dialogue between the head of State, leaders of political parties and the relevant authorities and stakeholders to discuss and agree upon immediate affirmative action moving forward as our vulnerable Nation grapples with COVID-19, has remained unanswered thus far.
One Seychelles is again advocating for a needed strategy of containment to ensure the health and livelihood of the Seychellois is protected.
Our call has thus far gone unanswered and unacknowledged by the other politicians, with our head of State continuing to operate in isolation and in the shadows. The fear and anxiety being felt by the public is escalating steadily, with many businesses, as well as private and governmental bodies, taking matters into their own hands and closing their doors for two weeks.
Different countries reliant upon tourism have taken drastic measures to preserve and safeguard their citizens by closing their borders, including Mauritius and Madagascar our sister islands. Meanwhile, Seychelles continued for much longer to receive visitors daily from Europe, which had become the epicentre of the coronavirus. Seychelles must now move to curtail tourism arrivals from all coronavirus-infected areas while simultaneously working to keep businesses afloat and continue providing employment for the people of Seychelles.
While the country is feeling the mounting pressures associated with the virus that has now reached our shores and infiltrating society, the only constructive way forward is to strive for unity. Unity is our strength, division is our weakness. Our government has a duty to prioritize the health and security of its people. It must also protect the public from the economic impact of this global health crisis; family-operated businesses in our tourism-reliant country will need support to weather the crisis.
‘One Seychelles’ acknowledges and joins the President in recognising that we are now living in unprecedented times and unchartered waters that have never before been tried and tested in Seychelles.
Desperate times do indeed call for exceptional responses. The President has attempted to do just that, however, like every new and novel approaches, the devil usually lie in the practical and implementation details. Thus there would as a consequence be multiple queries to the rationale that substantiate the chosen approach.
The President of One Seychelles, Alain St Ange, did propose that the major representatives of the people of Seychelles do meet to be part of a consensual approach for SEYCHELLES. In the end of his speech the President of the Republic rightly requests all Seychellois to get on board and recognise that each and everyone has a role to play in this fight against the spread of coronavirus in Seychelles.
However, the President declined to bring the various political leaders and stakeholders to seek their input and secure their respective consensus that would today have to support all his measures unreservedly. A lot of responses to doubts would have been given and we could all together focus on implementation. This was a missed opportunity. We do acknowledge that this is a national emergency and timely intervention is critical. However we still live in a young democracy where consultation and consensus are key. In fact, as a small country with relatively small population this task does not warrant much effort or time. Government's presence in the National Assembly to respond to queries and concerns of the representatives of the people. This has gone a long way to ensure that wide support for the measures are assured. Nevertheless the President’s decision to go it all alone instead of being politically inclusive remains very unfortunate.
The mis-opportunity is ‘water under the bridge’ now. We are now going to move forward with what has been pronounced. One Seychelles have the following exhausting queries for clarification:
1. The guarantee of salary by government for Seychellois and their foreign counterparts for three months in this trying period is welcomed. This will help local businesses.
2. What is the fate of the large number of self-employed Seychellois who earn their living in the informal sector inclusive of the performing industry? They are many in our society. They are not employed and do not earn a monthly salary yet their informal economic activities will also be affected and some have a personal loan too. With the decline in economic activities they will be affected too. Do they go to Agency for Social Protection? If that is the case, will the R30 million allocated to ASP be sufficient?
3. Seychellois cannot travel – good idea – but will Seychelles still be receiving foreigners from abroad to come to our shores? If yes from which country?
4. We are by now aware that coronavirus is extremely contagious. The army reserves have been called in to increase our manpower and ensure security and stability. However, in this combat we need to ensure that all our manpower are very well equipped and protected. Yet in the speech we seem to be depending on ‘friendly countries’ and WHO for equipment and protective items. In our view, this is not sufficient. Our doctors, nurses, police officers, volunteers and every worker on the frontline MUST have easy access to equipment (ventilators, relevant medicine), protective gear and the necessary rapid training and instructions on how to operate in this new environment. We would have wished that more clarity was given to reassure all that the aforementioned is indeed a priority.
5. The speech and the measures are focussed on 6 months and assumes that by September 2020 normality would settle in and life will normalise as we knew it yesterday. Assuming that this is really the case, it is our view that we may have underestimated the efforts that will be required for business to bounce back and begin to perform. But we at least have some time to cross this bridge when we get to it.
6. We call on the National Assembly to urgently move on the proposed stimulus package to develop measures, in consultation with the Seychelles Tourism Board, that will ensure businesses are kept alive and Seychellois employees do not lose their jobs. This as the tourism industry is being encouraged to offer a re-booking option, if they are unwilling to offer a refund, to clients who booked their accommodation or excursion packages prior to the pandemic.
7. The Central Bank needs on its part to urgently call for a drop in interest rates. This will help businesses remain afloat as loans are rescheduled and payments calculated on the new rates deferred for September 2020.
8. Seychellois have been encouraged to work from home and the local telecommunication companies are encouraged to do their part and drop the applicable rates.
9. Utilities charges (electricity & water) provided by PUC also needs to be reduced as more Seychellois are staying at home and would be burdened with extra costs in a period of national difficulty.
10. Daycare centres must remain open as working parents have no other facilities to care for their babies. This is a necessity.
11. Finally, we feel that the President could have reserved some more space to emphasise the importance of 'social distancing' and all the novel behaviour that we have to adopt to ensure we limit transmission to the bare minimum.
In ending, the economic measures are welcomed and we again put on record our appreciation for the work being done in this difficult time by the team at the department of health.
Contributed by One Seychelles