National Assembly approves R11 billion budget |14 April 2021
The National Assembly yesterday voted to approve the R11,013,648,296 budget proposed by the Appropriations Bill, 2021, which was tabled before the assembly by Minister for Finance, Economic Planning and Trade Naadir Hassan, on February 16, 2021.
Following just over a month of deliberations regarding the allocations to different ministries and agencies, leader of government business Bernard Georges, proposed the motion for the third reading of the Bill as it was proposed, with the exception of a R1.5 million freeze on the proposed R6.5 million allocation as subventions to political parties, pending further consultations.
A total of 24 members voted to approve the Bill, officially making it the Appropriations Act, 2021. No votes were registered against the motion, although ten members abstained from the vote.
Prior to moving on to other business for the day, Speaker Roger Mancienne gave both leaders in the assembly an opportunity for their concluding remarks on the budget debate process.
Leader of the opposition in the National Assembly, Sebastien Pillay, thanked all United Seychelles (US) members for the determination and resilience in participating in the budget deliberation.
He noted that his party has displayed support for public sector workers and other measures proposed by government, although they also hold some reservations with regard to the position taken by government in relation to prominent matters.
“We remain engaged towards ensuring that government spends the funds in a responsible manner, but we also remain engaged to ensure that the voice and concerns of the Seychellois public are put forward when necessary,” Hon. Pillay stated.
For his part, leader of government business, Bernard Georges, echoed similar sentiments to those of Hon. Pillay, in thanking Speaker Roger Mancienne, Minister Hassan and principal secretary for finance Damien Thesee for his contributions towards the deliberations, as well as members on either side of the table.
Budget presented on February 16,with two main objectives, to bring about stability in the government budget, and to render it more sustainable, as well as placing emphasis on the re-launching of the economy.
“To ensure that the budget can become sustainable, we are ensuring that wastage within government is eliminated, that expenses are reduced, that abuse and corruption are eliminated, and that dependence on government is reduced. Therefore, I want to give to the assembly my commitment and the government’s commitment that all ministries and agencies that depend on a government budget, that all efforts will be channelled into ensuring that the funds that they received in the 2021 budget is well spent, and in accordance to laws and regulations in place.”
The finance minister went on to highlight the major developments since the budget presentation, all of which are helping towards the recovery of the domestic economy. In particular, Minister Hassan made reference to the successes of the national immunisation campaign against the Covid-19 pandemic and government’s decision to reopen the country on March 25, 2020.
“Since that date (March 25, 2020), 9049 tourists have arrived in Seychelles, which represents 75 percent of the total number of tourists who have come to Seychelles since January. With the arrival of visitors in the country, the foreign exchange rate is dropping. Today, April 13, a USD at the Nouvobanq costs R17.14, as compared to February 16 when I presented the budget, and a USD cost R21.80. The decision by government, under the leadership of President Wavel Ramkalawan to reopen our country has been a brave but necessary one,” Minister Hassan stated, conveying thanks to members for their support.