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Seychelles National Day: phenomenal progress in 20 years

Seychelles National Day: phenomenal progress in 20 years ( NATIONAL DAY: PHENOMENAL PROGRESS IN 20 YEARS
Seychelles National Day: phenomenal progress in 20 years

Seychelles, national day, Seychelles anniversary, Seychelles tourism, Seychelles travel

On the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the Third Republic, President James Michel has described Seychelles as a model of “peace, unity, tolerance and good governance” and has pledged to ensure that it remains this way. He called on all Seychellois to look to the future in confidence and unity, and to reconcile where there is division. The President was speaking during his National Day address at the Stad Linite, following the National Day parade, where the navies of France, India, China, Denmark and Russia also took part. The event was also attended by the Secretary General of United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), Dr. Supachai Panitchpakdi.

“On the economic front, in 1993, our GDP per capita stood at US$6,400. Twenty years later it is US$13,900.In 1993, our gross domestic product was US$469M. Twenty year later it has reached US$1.2B.In 1993, our foreign exchange reserve was around US$35M. Today the foreign exchange reserve is more than US$345M. In 1993, we were classed as a middle-income country. Today Seychelles is defined as an upper middle-income country. In 1993, the United Nations Report on Human Development ranked Seychelles as 63rd, and categorized it as a country of average human development. In 2013, Seychelles is ranked 46th in the world and first in Africa. Today we are rated as a country of very high human development," said President Michel as he recalled the progress the country had made.

He said that in order for Seychelles to continue to prosper, all Seychellois have to work hard as an investment in the future.

“The progress we have achieved since the foundation of the Third Republic is phenomenal. This is recognized by the international community. We are proud of our accomplishments – and rightly so. But it did not happen by the waving of a magic wand. We had to make many sacrifices. We had to face a lot of difficulties – especially at a time of unfavorable international economic climate. We had to take some tough and unpopular decisions. Objective decisions that were above politics. We persevered. We demonstrated our resilience. We remained united. We worked hard. And this has enabled us to reach the summit of the mountain, and see the horizon before us with much hope."

The President acknowledged that rapid economic growth had created social and economic gaps in Seychellois society, and that one of the primary tasks of the government is to correct “all the inequities that may exist in our society” and strengthen social justice.

“For me – and I know for the majority of Seychellois – the two concepts of ownership and empowerment, which are closely linked, play a fundamental role in creating greater social justice. We have to take ownership of the New Seychelles. We have to continually empower our people to shoulder our responsibilities, our obligations, our health, our education, our economic and social activities."

In line with these concepts, President Michel furthermore announced three new measures to ensure economic growth as well as social justice in the country.

New SME Loan Scheme
The President announced that the Ministry of Finance will be introducing a new program next month which will enable entrepreneurial Seychellois to set up their businesses within a reasonable period, without difficulty accessing credit and without bureaucratic constraints.

Overall, the program will cover loans of up to SR3 million. It will apply only to businesses in the productive sector. Interest on loans will vary from 5% to 7%, and the repayment period will be between 5 and 7 years, with a 6-month grace period on repayments. The applicant’s personal contribution will not exceed 2.5% of the value of the loan. To enable them to facilitate the launching of their businesses, they will benefit from tax concessions for a certain period.

Government will also provide workshop facilities free of charge for a period of 6 months. After that they will pay a reasonable rent for the space they occupy. Land has already been identified at Providence for the necessary infrastructure. Work will start during the first half of 2014.

Smart Subsidy for Housing
The President said the government is addressing the issue of access to bank credit for housing construction. Presently, it is too complicated, particularly considering the criteria and the interest rates that the commercial banks charge to secure a loan. To resolve this situation, government will soon introduce a new program called Smart Subsidy. This is a new partnership between government, the commercial banks and the Housing Finance Corporation (HFC) which will benefit certain categories of applicants who are either building or buying a house for the first time. Under the Smart Subsidy program, government will give a subvention to applicants whose individual salaries or combined incomes are between SR6,000 and SR20,000. The level of subvention will depend on the salary levels of qualifying applicants.

Applicants with earnings of between the minimum wage and just below SR6,000 will also be considered for the subvention on an exceptional basis if their personal contributions meet other criteria. For those who do not fall in this particular category, the government will aid them to have their own homes through existing programs.

The President also announced that from August 2013, the HFC will resume the disbursement of loans, while at the same time it will increase the second housing loan levels from SR200,000 to SR300,000.

Salary Review
The President has instructed the Ministry of Finance to work on a comprehensive plan to ensure that the salaries of all Seychellois workers are reviewed, taking into account the country’s economic capacity. This will apply for all salary levels, including the national minimum wage. This will ensure that both public and private sector workers will benefit.

The Ministry of Finance will set up a mechanism to help the private sector absorb the salary increase. This salary increase will take effect early in 2014. This will be in addition to the salary increases that will be implemented from July 1 this year.


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