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In everyday life, everyone needs a budget whether it is in a home or at work. We must have a budget with which to work and a salary to cater for a month, enabling one to pay bills and do everything else. The principle also applies for a family. It needs a budget for members to put together and move forward. When we look at Seychelles as a country, election comes and a political party is elected. Then a government comes to power. This government is there to administer the country for the period of time it has been voted into office. It works in many ways. It has to come forward with a budget in order to run the country in such a way as the society has decided. There are ministries such as for health, housing and employment etc…… All those ministries need money to make the country function.

When we look at the budget presented by the government last week, it is quite a reasonable one. Many people expected that because there will be an election next year- the budget would have been much more favourable to people in business, construction and other sectors. But the budget does not show all of that. So, certainly with such lacks, there will be some criticisms. Perhaps for some reasons our leaders at the helm have decided to administer the government better or for some other reasons. But when I look at it in general, I would like to congratulate areas in which we have done well.
For example, when we look at SCAA and SEYPEC, they are two parastatal organisations which have done well so far. They will continue to perform well. It is a plus for the government, a plus for our country and a plus for the Seychellois people. They are two organizations which have invested a lot in infrastructures thus showing that they have worked a lot to make things move and have not relied on the government. They are also not asking money in the proposed budget for anything.
In agriculture, fisheries and the blue economy, I will also say that the country is doing well. At the same time, we see the association for fishermen becoming more active nowadays and venturing into the semi-industrial and industrial fishing. But those fishermen are saying that they would like to see more Seychellois engaged in long- liners on an industrial basis. Seychellois, however, hesitate to enter into such a venture for various reasons. Our waters belong to us and if we remember vessels which we had in the past such as the Spirit of Koxe which later sank because of a problem. After it, we did not see anything else along the same line. There has been no other big vessel built, handled and administered by Seychellois.
In the field of agriculture, we are moving forward, but wherever I go, I can see that our farmers are striving hard to survive in this country. The problem is not with the farmers themselves. Something ought to be done in the budget to compensate them a lit bit more.
PUC is one of the main culprits for the high cost of living in Seychelles. The cost of its services continues to rise. It has never been heard to have lowered the cost of its services considerably at any point in time. Those services are at the base of a family budget because all families have to pay for water and electricity they consume. Today when I hear the Minister for Finance come up with the argument of importing more electric cars- for me it is O.K from an environmental point of view. But my question is as follows: From an economic point of view, will we now transfer the fuel burden to that of electricity? Will that mean that if today a family is paying an average of R1000 for electricity consumption per month, then it will have to pay over R5000 to get the house and car connected as well. Will a family afford to pay an electricity bill of R5000 per month ? The government should re-look at this policy. It is not a question of because something has been put in the budget, we must all accept it as has been presented to us. Probably someone has tried to add his contribution to the budget in that sense, but what has been proposed is not realistic and practical in general. It will destroy the very category of Seychellois who needs protection based on the principle of the present government.
On the innovative economy, there are certain questions. How can we talk about innovative economy if we cannot sit together with the Central and commercial banks to help Seychellois find solutions as to how to move forward in a business venture ? There are countries where government intervenes to unlock doors if a business is finding itself in difficulty. I know of situations whereby Indian businessmen come to Seychelles and start a business. If stuck anywhere along the way, they go back to India, raise a loan and then return to Seychelles to put the business back on course. They have been helped and assisted by their country to sustain their businesses. But unfortunately, in Seychelles, we are not doing it. We are not holding the hands of our countrymen in business who may have fallen down or facing problems.
On environment sustainability, with regards to PUC installing solar panels on Ile De Romainville and converting them into electricity and using electric cars, they are both positive moves. But there is not a single garage today in Seychelles which can repair electric cars at a 100%. If we cannot find solutions to the mechanisms of electric vehicles, how can we go a 100% in that direction? Electric vehicles are more suitable for European countries where there are mainly flat and level roads. Here we have roads that are mountainous where at times even fuel engine vehicles face problem. Electric cars will similarly face that problem. I have known owners of electric cars who have waited months for mechanics to solve a problem. Some have even decided to return the vehicle back to where it was purchased.
In 2020, workers will get 24 days annual leave. I can live with that. In fact, I am totally O.K with it. But there will be employees who will still abuse the new rules. They will go on sick-leave throughout the year. They will also benefit from all public holidays. Most of their time will be spent on holidays instead of at work and being productive. Let’s hope that does not happen.
On the increase of taxes on fuel engine vehicles- for private, I do not see any sense in it. Commercial is another story. Not all youths will be able to afford a hybrid or electric vehicle. I have personally conducted my research and have opted to use a fuel engine car instead of an electric one because the cost is far less.
The Minister said that he will be working with SEYPEC to install panels at fuel stations so as to recharge electric vehicles. But batteries can catch fire and explode. One is not supposed to be recharging a battery on a fuel station. I do believe the Minister was ill-advised on that one.
I have a belief and principle as an individual. The over R1.4 billion for the social welfare of our people is a good thing. All countries have safety nets. They are managed in various ways on a country by country basis. Here in Seychelles, when people face problems they are not assisted on time. They have to wait for months before being assisted. It creates a problem in itself. By the time the assistance comes forth, the person may have already come out of this trouble, but did not receive it when he needed it the most. Because the necessary formalities have been made, he will go on to collect the money for three or four months, despite not being in need then. France has a very good welfare system whereby people are assisted immediately if they have satisfied the authority that they are really in need. They do not have to wait for months. It is this waiting that gives rise to abuse. A person who has lost a job will not inform the system even if he has later regained employment. Because he has already registered, he will go on and collect the money. Then we have the sort of people who want to stay forever on welfare assistance. The government is responsible in a way for such abuse, but it is not responsible at the same time. Why do I say that it not responsible for such abuses ? A social worker is placed in a district. It is up to him or her to investigate all claims of welfare assistance and report to the person in the position to authorize payment. It is not up to the President or a Minister to do it. Now if all politicians in the country volunteered information on people seeking welfare assistance, they would be helping the government and our country at the same time. They should all be blowing the whistle if anyone is receiving welfare assistance undeservedly, irrespective if the person supports United Seychelles or LDS.
The introduction of cards to receive food and other items at STC is a humiliation to the recipient. Not everyone must know when there is a problem of food shortage in a household. We should never do it because we are robbing the person of his or her dignity. It should be abolished immediately. What can be done instead is identify a merchant in the district where the person lives and make sure that he gets the commodities he needs on credit. Then the list and its corresponding overall cost can be brought down to the welfare office for payment.
On this issue of personalized number for vehicles, I believe a person should not pay anything if he or she is a first-time owner. The youths especially should be given at least one chance in their life to have a personalized vehicle registration number for free. If they come for a second or a third one, then it will be justified for them to have to pay for it.