One Seychelles Vice-Presidential candidate Peter Sinon |20 October 2020
‘My dream of Seychelles becoming the Singapore of the Indian Ocean is more alive today than ever’
Seychelles NATION: What are you hoping to achieve in the role of vice- president?
Peter Sinon: I am hoping to implement the real changes that the Seychellois electorate are yearning for and that has come from them and articulated in summary in One Seychelles manifesto.
Seychelles NATION: The role requires decisiveness. Share some examples of your ability and willingness to be decisive.
Peter Sinon: Indeed it does require decisiveness. In my career I have had many occasions where I have been confronted with very challenging decisions to make – the list will be too long if I have to list them all. However, those that mark me most are those that I made and paid the heaviest price for doing so. Although not directly told, I believe I was replaced in my post as Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries because of my uncompromising support for the investment of the Port Handling Facility on Ile du Port that was still a forest of casuarina trees when I took office.
The port is now operational and is now serving the number one pillar of our economy – fisheries. In this endeavour I did not leave local artisanal and industrial fisheries behind. The debacle at Roche Caïman with regard to fishermen selling their fish in front of ‘Angel Fish building’ where the police were frequently being called challenged the sector and a partnership with Eden Island produced the facility that exists today. This is an example for all such facility for fishermen in all districts although not all in the same design.
And finally it was with the agricultural sector where I single-handedly had to go out and re-establish relations with the International Fund for Agricultural Development (Ifad) after 25 years of non-collaboration to mobilise US $3 million for the Competitive Local Innovations for Small-Scale Agriculture (Clissa). It is the project that kept the sector going for quite a long time being quoted by my successor after I was replaced. Those were some of my decisive moments that can be capped by my public voicing out of my concern.
Seychelles NATION: Who or what have influenced your principles and way of thinking?
Peter Sinon: My principles have been nurtured to full maturity by Guy and Rita Sinon (his parents). They implanted in me the belief in myself and the Seychellois people. My ways of thinking have further been refined by some greatest philosophers and politicians ‒ they include Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela who I had the honour to meet personally. At the very foundation of my personality are the teachings of Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour who I believe still watches and protects our people and beloved country in this time of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Seychelles NATION: What are some major challenges the society is presently facing?
Peter Sinon: I would say that at an initial glance one would quickly respond that it is the adverse socio-economic effects of Covid-19. However, this is not really the case. Challenges such as the pandemic have and will continue to come and go. Overcoming the obstacles is however always dependent on the strength of our resilience and collective abilities to overcome the challenges that we encounter as ONE NATION.
Hard drugproliferation and the resultant addictions affecting our youth and our future lie at the core of our challenges. Reviving our tourism industry with the full participation of Seychellois in the process is the other with a renewed attention and resources allocation to import substitution strategies to substantially improve our food security status. The former would involve building confidence through the establishment of the robust and working structures to ensure that Seychelles remains a safe destination to visit and in the case of the latter it is a new and more effective support for our farmers and fishers.
Seychelles NATION: When entering this position, what would be your top three priorities and how would you tackle them?
Peter Sinon: My top three priorities would be:
- Reduce the cost of food and increase minimum salary to R7,500 monthly and remove people out of poverty.
- Revival of the economy, promulgate the public private sector partnership (PPP) legislative framework as well as install the ‘Public Service Commission’ to ensure a more effective and efficient public service delivery. This will include the tax structure reforms, improvement of the ‘Ease of Doing Business’ to kick-start the economy. Diversification through the promotion and push for export-oriented as well as relevant import-substitution activities that the Seychelles can viably implement will also have my undivided attention. Incentives for investment by Seychellois entrepreneurs in industrial (tuna) fishing and fish value-addition as well as other sea-food products through an aggressive and much enhanced mariculture industry will be given a boost. Seychelles will move from ‘Blue Economy concept’ to ‘Blue Economy sustainable actions’.
- Reform of our educational structure: We need to have a human resource development plan that is comprehensive and takes cognisance of the skills and qualified human resources to replace our growing number of expatriates. Vocational training facilities will be given much more resources and attention than it has been receiving to date. Discipline will be restored in our schools.
Seychelles NATION: What will you do to hold accountable the individuals and institutions responsible for mismanagement of public funds?
Peter Sinon: Mismanagement of public funds is unacceptable and will be dealt with by the internal regulations or the rule of law! There will be no tolerance for corruption by all parties involved in such unacceptable practices.
Seychelles NATION: Do you have the qualities for the position and why people should trust you with their vote?
Peter Sinon: I have thus far proven my worth in the public service, in international multilateral financial institution that is still the number one Development Banking Institution in Africa and in the Cabinet. I ride and uphold the track record of my father and mother. They were there in politics since 1964 through 1977 at the highest level in Cabinet without a police, soldier or even a gate at their entrance at Copolia. The Truth, Reconciliation and National Unity Commission (TRNUC) has not mentioned either Guy or Rita to this point. I hail from a stock that can be trusted and that had principles as well as belief in the good in the Seychellois people.
Seychelles NATION: What made you accept the position of vice-president?
Peter Sinon: The conviction of Mr Alain St Ange to do something positive for Seychelles and the urge to follow in his footsteps and give a helping hand is what prompted me to accept the position. There is a need NOW at this juncture to further re-establish Seychellois at the centre of all our developmental efforts.
Seychelles NATION: Why do you believe you can complement the work of your presidential candidate to make the team that the people will look up to?
Peter Sinon: We have already proven that we are a formidable team. We have overcome multiple obstacles that were purposefully put on our road to have a party that can reach this far in the national elections. We overcame each and every one of them and we are still in the race one week before the elections. We ran a clean campaign, we scared no-one and spoke badly about no-one or other party. We remained focused on the real change that we are offering the people of Seychelles – the youth, the working population and the retirees. The choice is in their hands.
Seychelles NATION: How do you plan to help manage public expectation?
Peter Sinon: The public actually has not got much expectation at this juncture. They know the situation that we are in and know that times can get a bit harder before it gets better. As much as I am aware and keep saying that no other nation or friends will come and do it for us, Seychellois is also aware that as we are, we will all have to roll up our sleeves and rebuild our economy – together. Together we know that the days of giving a fish to live for today is expiring fast – our focus will be to teach and equip our youth to fish so that they feed their family everyday.
Seychelles NATION: People will be looking up to you to bring a lot of changes at different levels. Are you ready and fully prepared to face public concerns?
Peter Sinon: Yes – indeed I am – more motivated, experienced and determined than ever before!!!.
Seychelles NATION: If you were to convince the people that you will bring a new way of doing things in government, what would you tell them?
Peter Sinon: What One Seychelles has always repeated like a broken record – we need to work more efficiently and effectively to respond to our employer – that is the people of SEYCHELLES. We will ensure that as wide a segment of our working formal and informal sector pay an affordable relative and progressive tax. Tax will no longer be seen as a punishment to be avoided or evaded but a legitimate contribution that is acceptably paid to contribute towards the services that we all benefit from. The larger number that pays the more effective the scrutiny and demands for excellence in service delivery!
I would thus tell them that we are well-paid to deliver excellence. My dream of Seychelles becoming the Singapore of the Indian Ocean is more alive today than ever.