Thursday, 18 February 2016

President Michel’s SONA 2016- Ensuring economic growth with social justice and stability

President Michel’s SONA 2016- Ensuring economic growth with social justice and stabilityPresident James Michel delivered his 12th State of the Nation Address to the Seychelles National Assembly this afternoon, placing emphasis on social justice, welfare, the fight against drugs, healthcare improvement, democracy and good governance.Mr. Michel said the year 2015 had produced a positive economic outlook for the country.

He noted that a growth rate of 4.34% was recorded and the foreign exchange reserve in the Central Bank was US$536 million. This represents almost five months’ worth of importation. Seychelles continued to service its external debt regularly, and reduce debt stock to 62% of our Gross National Product (GNP). Seychelles remained well on track to achieving its public debt reduction objective of 50% of GNP in 2018.  A level which many European countries have not been able to reach. The rate of inflation was 3.2% at the end of 2015.

The tourism industry experienced considerable growth, with a 19% increase in visitor arrivals, and a 17% increase in revenue. Approximately 40,000 Seychellois travelled overseas last year, which represents 44% of Seychelles’ population. The government enable 1,612 people to enter employment in 2015, and the unemployment rate was at 4.2%. Up to December 2015 a total of 538 loans valued at SR507.3 million were approved under the small and medium enterprise (SME) scheme; a total of 117 new small businesses were created, and this brings the number of small and medium enterprises in Seychelles to 2,290.More than 270 Seychellois obtained university degrees either from the University of Seychelles, or from universities overseas. Statistics show that today, approximately 75% of Seychellois families are owners of their homes. Seychellois purchasing power has increased, mainly as a result of the reduction in the cost of fuel, electricity, water, LPG gas and certain goods.

“I represent a party that has struggled for more than 50 years for the liberation, freedom, dignity and emancipation of all Seychellois.  We fought for social justice, for equality, for fraternity, for unity. And we’ve taken the Seychellois nation far – very far – over the 38 years that we have been in power,” said President Michel during his State of the Nation Address.

“We will continue working to build an even better Seychelles. Encompassing change, because it is we, Parti Lepep – and always we – who have brought about real change in this country. And we shall always do it when necessary. With respect to our fellow citizens. In peace and unity. In dignity. With fraternity and compassion. Without hatred and without the desire for revenge.  Without personal agendas. Without JCBs, without bulldozers. Without arson.  Without stamping on anyone.”

He said that this year Seychelles will celebrate the 40th anniversary of Independence, which would be a moment for greater solidarity and national unity. “If we have reached where we are today, it is thanks to our determination and our conviction that, within us Seychellois, we have the courage to stand up and do what is right for our Seychelles.  We have done it TOGETHER.  Now my call as the President of Seychelles is for us all to rally together to consolidate our unity, to preserve our stability and to continue to make the Seychelles that we love remain that country of peace and unity in the world.”

The President presented several Government decisions and priorities for the year. The following is a summary of the main points made:

Minimum wage increase and income tax
The President announced that there will be an increase in minimum salary for a 35-hour week, from SR4050 to SR5050 monthly. There will be no personal income tax deduction on the minimum salary.  This measure will take effect in April.

Furthermore, as from July, persons who earn a salary of SR 8555.50 or less will also not pay income tax. The President announced that a progressive income tax system for other tiers of salary would be introduced as of January 2017.

Pensions
The President announced that the social security/retirement pension would increase to 5050SR, to match the minimum wage. He also announced that his Government would propose a new law which would change conditions of pensions for Government Ministers and Members of the National Assembly. They would not get automatic pensions after leaving post following a period of service. They will get their pensions only at the national age of retirement, and this would include both past and present office holders. Read more....

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