National Disaster Relief-Funds start coming in


05-February-2013

Members of the National Disaster Relief Fund during their meeting yesterday

The contributions to the fund came to light during the second meeting of the National Disaster Relief Fund board held at the Oceangate House yesterday in the presence of Designated Minister and Minister for Social Affairs, Community Development and Sports Vincent Meriton, who chairs the task force set up by President James Michel in the wake of the disasters caused by the recent heavy rains.

The meeting learned that President Michel has donated R136,800 which is his annual gratuity for the year 2012, and the Mauritian cabinet has agreed to Mauritius making a contribution of US $100,000 to Seychelles for reconstruction works on Mahé following widespread structural damage to roads, bridges and houses caused by severe flooding on January 27, 2013.

The National Disaster Relief Fund has replaced the National Emergency Foundation created in 2005, with the introduction of new legislation last week allowing for the incorporation of the foundation’s assets into the new fund.

National Disaster Relief Fund chairman Lekha Nair, who is also the principal secretary for President’s Office Administration, said a sum of R1.5 million which was in the account of the National Emergency Foundation has already been transferred to the National Disaster Relief Fund account at the Nouvobanq.

In fact, the National Disaster Relief Fund has two accounts – one in US dollars (32-0-02-043457-00-4) and the other in Seychelles rupees (01-0-02-043457-00-4) – at the Nouvobanq and all cheques should be made out to National Disaster Relief Fund. The swift code is NOVHSCS.

Mrs Nair added that the National Disaster Relief Fund has also approved, during its first meeting last Friday, to disburse R130,000 to the Red Cross Society of Seychelles to buy food for people who have been directly affected by heavy rains which hit four districts situated on the east coast of Mahé – Cascade, Pointe Larue, Anse Aux Pins and Au Cap – from January 26-29.

She said the National Disaster Relief Fund decided to meet the task force chairman, Minister Meriton, to plan ahead and see how they can work in close collaboration as all requests are being made through the task force.

“The task force has most of the information we need. This is because those affected by the flooding disaster and are seeking financial assistance still need to make their requests at the district administration office. These requests are then sent to the task force. Liaising with the task force makes it easier for us to identify people who are in need,” said Mrs Nair.

Minister Meriton added that the assessment team, made up of experts in different fields, has concluded that a sum of R120 million will be needed to rectify the damage caused by the disaster and put preventive measures in place.

“A number of international organisations have pledged their support to Seychelles and those who have been directly affected by the bad weather,” said Minister Meriton, who added that for all maintenance or construction works to be done, three quotations will be needed.

This, he notes, will bring fairness in how the money raised by the National Disaster Relief Fund is being used.

The National Disaster Relief Fund board has to keep proper accounts and other records of the monies of the fund and prepare for each calendar year a statement of accounts, and has to get its accounts audited under article 158 of the Constitution.

Mrs Nair added that a weekly report of money collected will be made available so that people see for themselves how much money has been raised and how much has been disbursed.

The third meeting of the National Disaster Relief Fund is on Thursday.

Other than chairperson Nair, the other members of the National Disaster Relief Fund appointed by President Michel are Patrick Payet, Alain De Commarmond, Colette Servina, Bernard Pool and Nirmal Jivan Shah.
The National Disaster Relief Fund has four main objectives:

• To raise funds from governments, private individuals, corporations, associations and other institutions or bodies in Seychelles and elsewhere;

• To use the funds to assist persons in cases of emergencies, such as floods, fires, tsunamis, landslides and other natural causes;

• To provide temporary relief to small businesses which have suffered significantly through above causes by extending short-term loans for purchase of equipment, raw materials or related products;

• To assist charitable organisations in achieving the above objectives.

Among the issues that the task force has tackled are public infrastructure such as retaining walls which have sustained severe damage, new walls that need to be erected, drains and roads, housing, a number of which have been severely damaged and need to be assessed, other personal issues where properties have been damaged or lost.

Besides its chairman Mr Meriton, the task force also comprises the Minister for Environment and Energy, Professor Rolph Payet; Minister for Land Use and Housing, Christian Lionnet; the principal secretaries for Community Development and Sports Denis Rose, and Finance Steve Fanny; the leader of government business in the National Assembly, Marie-Antoinette Rose; the chief executives of the Seychelles Land Transport Agency Parinda Herath and the Seychelles Agricultural Agency Marc Naiken; a representative of the Red Cross, Public Health and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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