Economy at top of President Michel’s agenda


22-April-2009

“During the remaining two years of my mandate the focus will be the economy, the economy and the economy,” he said.
“I am determined to forge ahead with the economic reform I have started because I know it’s a good reform that will bring about a modern and strong economy, and subsequently a better life for our people.”

Mr Michel was speaking in a recent interview, excerpts of which were aired on Sunday evening as part of a programme put together by the local television station SBC to mark his fifth year in the highest office of the land.
Mr Michel took over from former President France Albert Rene on April 14, 2004, and two years later was elected President in the July 28-30 election.
In his interview, he recalled his commitment to create a society in which the people feel safe and live without fear, and for this reason he will continue with his reforms in the police force.

“These reforms have started, we have reached a significant stage in this process and now we will intensify these reforms to ensure we get a professional and efficient force that will inspire confidence in the population and make them feel they are living in a country where peace and order prevail,” said Mr Michel.

Another challenge he will work hard to overcome during his remaining two years is the drug scourge, which he said is affecting our youth.

“Today we are faced with a big social problem linked with drugs, and we must at all costs tackle this situation,” he said.
He spoke of the National Drugs Enforcement Agency (NDEA), which has been set up to deal with the drug problem in a systematic way at both local and international level.

Recapping his five years in office, Mr Michel said the highlight was when he took his oath and pledged to serve the people of Seychelles, and explained his vision to propel Seychelles to a new stage of its development.

Describing his five years as a long, hectic journey, Mr Michel said it has been at the same time a satisfying one, during which he has felt he is fulfilling his promise to the people of Seychelles that he will bring about a transformation, with a modern economy in a country where everybody is united. 

He said as soon as he took over the presidency, he set about putting in place a solid foundation on which to transform our economy. Two years later, in the presidential election, the people endorsed these plans to transform Seychelles and its economy.

Along the way new challenges and obstacles emerged, culminating in the financial crisis that has rocked the world’s economy and forced us to readjust our strategy, Mr Michel explained.
He said in view of the impact this financial crisis was having on us, at the same time as we were experiencing certain structural weaknesses in our economy, he had to react and take some difficult decisions but ones that were necessary to save our country.

This was the reason for the economic reforms, which he said were necessary to create a solid base on which a new and modern economy would grow.

He said his satisfaction is that he realises today the decision he took was necessary and correct, and we are on the right track in our quest to transform our economy into a solid and modern one.  
What also makes him happy is the realisation that the reforms have changed our way of doing things and made us look again at our responsibilities.

He said the reforms have instilled a sense of maturity into our people, who have realised the need to take their responsibilities seriously, both on a personal and national level.

Describing the decision to begin the reforms as difficult and one that has called for a lot of courage, Mr Michel said he is happy we are beginning to see the fruits of these measures, citing the availability of foreign exchange in the banks as one of the positive outcomes.

Talking about his style of leadership – that of consultation and keeping in touch with the population – Mr Michel said when the people choose you to be their President, you must not stay aloof but always be in contact with the same people who have put their trust in you and whom you have had the privilege to serve.

“Whenever it is necessary, or whenever you have the time, you should always be going back to the people to seek their views and concerns,” he said.

“When you discuss with them and get their views, you have your finger on the pulse of what they are feeling, what they would like to see, and this guides you better in the decisions you take for the benefit of the country and its people.”

Mr Michel added that these consultations are also a means to make people come closer together, saying his five years in office have given him the chance to develop further this concept of unity.

On the great importance he attaches to youth, Mr Michel said he believes in young people because he believes in renewal.
He said the older people will tomorrow be gone, and we need the youth to replace them. For that to be possible you have to empower the youth from an early age and instil in them a sense of discipline and responsibility so they can take over the running of the country in the years to come.

In his interview, Mr Michel also spoke about his vision to give Seychelles its place in the international community and about success that has been achieved in this area.

He laid special emphasis on Seychelles’ lead roles in championing the cause of small island states and in environmental protection.

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