The two leaders in the Seychelles National Assembly on Tuesday responded to President Wavel Ramkalawan’s State of the Nation Address.
Sebastien Pillay, the Leader of the Opposition, said the President did not give the real state of the nation.
“This kind of State of the Nation address has no place in an evolving democracy and it does not show respect and do justice to the people who elected this President,” he said.
Pillay said instead of a plan on the direction that Seychelles is taking, what is being done to re-dynamise the fisheries sector, the plan to reinforce our agricultural sector, and how to tackle the cost of living are some of the subjects that were not touched at all. Instead, the President talked about his frustration.
Sebastien Pillay, the Leader of the Opposition. (Seychelles Nation) Photo License: CC-BY
“If the government was doing a formidable job as you said, people would not be frustrated. […] The truth is that Seychellois is not satisfied with the present leadership and this is why they are frustrated and venting on Facebook,” added Pillay.
The Leader of the Opposition said that a President must know the true state of the nation as he has to give inspiration and encouragement to his people.
“Today I will talk about the reality of the state of our nation. Today many of our Seychellois are in trouble and not many have been assisted and the budget of the Agency for Social Protection is being rationed. Why doesn’t the President talk about a comprehensive plan for the more vulnerable in our society?” he asked.
Pillay said that the private sector is facing a lot of challenges and “we no longer hear about the diversification of the economy. Even worse, the government is entering into direct competition with the sector. […] The government wants to collect more taxes, almost SCR 9.2 billion, but how can you collect more money if you are strangulating the businesses?”
On criminality and the drug situation in Seychelles, Pillay said it is becoming worse largely due to the closure of two agencies fighting against drugs and that “we no longer have a residential treatment programe. APDAR [Agency for Prevention of Drug Abuse and Rehabilitation] had already negotiated with UAE for a rehabilitation village and if this plan had gone ahead today we would have a residential programme for the addicts that are working.”
He said that there are simple elements to consider when leading a country and one is that you respond to situations in a reasonable time and this applies to the farmers affected by the bad weather last year. There is still no plan in place to assist them.
Pillay concluded by saying “let us together take a good decision to bring a real government transformation in 2025 and we will put in place a government for the people, by the people.”
On his side, the Leader of Government Business, Bernard Georges said, “There are two ways to look at what is positive in our country – one on the structural development and the other on the socio-economic development.”
He said that development must take both into consideration and that list of accomplishments made by this government is very long.
The Leader of Government Business, Bernard Georges. (National Assembly) Photo License: CC-BY
These included the renovation of the National Institute for Health and Social Studies (NIHSS), the renovation of the National Library and the La Digue Hospital among others.
“With the restructuring of the salary scheme and the increase in salaries in April there is already a relief for all government employees,” he added.
Georges said the President talked about how Seychelles is getting international recognition through his participation in international forums.
“He does not only talk about the environment and climate change but also the responsibility of the developed countries. He has said it not only once but keeps repeating it until he becomes a champion of the vulnerability index idea.
In this way, Seychelles can expect more benefits that we would not have got otherwise,” he added.
The Leader of Government Business said that with the democratic reform since 2020, Seychelles remains politically stable and has been able to climb on all the democratic indexes in the region.
“This is the future. If we are applauding the advancement Seychelles has made, we cannot ignore the challenges that are a concern for our President and ourselves. There are too many social issues in our country and the biggest one is the issue of drugs and alcohol,” he added
Georges said that drugs, especially heroin and cocaine, are entering Seychelles and the country despite the relentless fight of the police and the coast guard, despite sentences of 10, 20 and 30 years or life in prison imposed by the court, drugs are still entering the country.
“The people who elected us expect us to work to eliminate these scourges and this government will work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to destroy bad practices such as drug trafficking,” said Georges.
He added that although there is a lot of negativity from some people, “this will not stop us from working for the betterment of our country. The more difficult things are, the more determined we are to surmount the problem.”
“We have to fight to surmount the challenges and we need to find solutions to remove the frustration among many of our citizens. We have to use all the tools available including seizing ill-gotten gains of drug traffickers,” he said.
George said that “our government has given Seychelles a new direction, a new breath, new hope, and a new way of living. The choice is before us.”