Minister Vidot continues familiarisation visits |11 November 2020
As part of the familiarisation programme, new Minister Devika Vidot yesterday continued her visit to agencies falling under her portfolio, namely the Industrial Estates Authority and Seychelles Bureau of Standards.
The minister for investment, entrepreneurship and industry was accompanied by principal secretary Angelique Antat, responsible for investment and entrepreneurship development.
First to be visited was the Industrial Estates Authority (IEA) in Providence, where Minister Vidot was welcomed by its chief executive, Lucy Athanasius. She also met some of the staff of the IEA.
It was an opportunity for the IEA to set down its objectives and bring its challenges in the forefront.
High on their agenda was the immediate moratorium placed on the transfer of land for industrial purposes while an audit is undertaken.
Minister Devika stated that work is underway to analyse what needs to be done in regards to the audit, and decisions that will be taken will depend on the information collected. The full length of the moratorium is yet to be determined.
“The rationale behind the moratorium is because we have found lots of plot of land attributed to holders that have not been honouring their agreements to pay lease. This is the main reason we had to bring everything to a halt.”
Coupled with additional meetings during the coming weeks, the ministry and the IEA are hoping to formulate a new way forward for the agency.
At the Seychelles Bureau of Standards (SBS), Minister Vidot and PS Antat were welcomed and guided around the premises by chief executive Andy Ally and deputy chief executive Sreekala Nair, who explained the various functions of the departments and laboratories, before settling into a meeting in which they discussed the challenges faced, as well as the way forward for the institution.
During the visit, Mr Ally highlighted that while SBS issues standards for numerous products, the biggest challenge is monitoring the standards of imported products on account of lack of human resource capacity, as well as ensuring the quality of some locally manufactured products, for which the law makes no provisions for SBS checks, such as bottled water.
With regard to imports, he proposed that due to the large volume of imported products, a risk-assessment be conducted in order to determine the types of control to be imposed at the borders, so as to ensure that Seychellois consumers have access to quality products.
“I learned a lot about all their facilities, their laboratories, the services they offer. I am learning a lot of things that although we were already aware of, it is always good to have a refresher on how much of an important role they play in our business industry,” Minister Vidot said.
“As was explained, we cannot simply impose standards for all imported products as it will cause delays and hold-ups and problems for everyone. However, there are certain key products that we have to analyse, to conduct surveys to include in regulations so it will be mandatory for these products to be tested by SBS, to ensure that the population is consuming products of standards, and to the benefit of everyone,” Minister Vidot stated.
Minister Vidot and the SBS management team also addressed the means by which SBS can be of more use to Seychellois entrepreneurs and business persons, to further boost industry and entrepreneurship, increase exports and revenues generated from exportation.
Mr Ally noted that SBS recently established standards for coconut oil manufacturing, which could open up export opportunities for the country, as well as products derived from plants with medicinal properties, on which SBS has collected a large amount of highly-sought after raw data, to be made available to the government and industries once a framework is established on how to manage the data.
“From what I am observing, the most important thing to address now is relating to local products that our businessmen and women and entrepreneurs want to export, and we have seen that SBS can offer this support in terms of accrediting samples of the products to ensure that it meets international standards. So, I am foreseeing that in the future there will be close collaboration, ensuring that all our agencies work together to achieve that objective to facilitate the ease of doing business for our Seychellois, and to help them open the door to exportation,” Minister Vidot stated.
Minister Vidot vowed her commitment to focusing on the exportation of local products, with SBS having a pivotal role in ensuring products are up to the level and standard, so it can be competitive overseas.
SBS is mandated to provide standardisation in relation to commodities, processes and practices by offering services related to laboratory testing, metrology, product certification, development and implementation of standards and Science and Technology information management and dissemination.
SBS has numerous laboratories dedicated to different tests, namely, a Food Chemistry lab, Gas Cylinder Laboratory, Legal Metrology laboratory and Construction Material Laboratory. One of the services offered by the institution and which generates significant revenues for the country is the testing of fish for export markets. According to Mr Ally, SBS generates on average R9.5 million annually, although with the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent economic downturn, it is expected to this year rake in around R8 million.
The accompanying photos show Minister Vidot and her delegation on her visits yesterday.
Laura Pillay & Elsie Pointe