State-of-the-Nation Address 2013-‘Time to play greater role running country’


President Michel delivering his State-of-the-Nation address yesterdayPresident James Michel said this yesterday in the National Assembly where he delivered his State-of-the-Nation Address 2013 before its members, Vice-President Danny Faure, chief justice Fredrick Egonda-Ntende, president of the Court of Appeal Francis MacGregor, ministers and other key guests.

"It is time for us to take greater ownership. It does not matter where we work, what rank or position we hold. We have to realise we form part of government; we are part of this enterprise. We and the government are not two separate entities,” he said.

“Government assets are our assets. When we waste government resources, when we waste time in our offices, we are wasting our own resources, our own time. Let us develop this awareness of ownership. “We are not just employees, but we are part of a team. We are part of government. We are part of the private enterprise. Working hard is worth it!" he said, during his 9th State-of-the-Nation Address.

Mr Michel called on all Seychellois to continue working hard in 2013 and to continue making Seychelles’ star shine in the Indian Ocean and in the world.
He noted that the Seychelles economy is continuing to grow and that the macroeconomic perspective is more than encouraging. In 2012, the government exceeded its targets and achieved an estimated 6.4% surplus in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The inflation rate stabilised to 5.8% in December 2012 and the foreign exchange reserves have reached US $308 million today, which represents approximately 2.8 months of imports.

The Fitch Ratings agency has also classed Seychelles as “positive,” one step up from the previous rating of “stable”.
Furthermore the 2010 Populations Census results indicate 92.7% literacy, 97% homes have electricity, 93% have treated water, 70% of the population own their own house, 90% have a mobile telephone and 94.6% have a television set,” said Mr Michel.

He presented the government’s priorities in terms of working to ensure a (1) solid economy, (2) jobs for all, (3) decent housing to Seychellois, (4) education, (5) health, (6) youth empowerment, (7) sustainable development (8) order, peace and security, (9) rule of law, (10) Seychelles shining on the international scene.

On the sale of land, he said the government will be amending the State land and River Reserves Act to ensure individuals, who do not have Seychellois citizenship, cannot buy land on a “freehold” basis. They will only be allowed to buy a long-term non-renewable lease of 70 years. The government will offer amnesty to foreigners who have bought land through nominee companies through transfer of shares, in order to regularise their situation. If they do not do these, then the government will repossess their land. The aim of the initiative is to eliminate the evasion of sanction procedures and unlawful acquisitions of land by foreign nationals. The only exemption to this land policy will be for development of villas in tourism resorts in order continue attracting foreign direct investment, and therefore maintain the investment and development policy for villa developments.

A partial view of guests and members of the National Assembly listening to the President’s address

On citizenship, Mr Michel announced that new stricter laws would be put into place for the acquisition of Seychelles citizenship by foreign nationals. Applicants for citizenship will be expected to know, understand and appreciate Seychelles, its constitution, its people, its history, its culture, aspirations and heritage, and a period of residence and marriage will not suffice for citizenship. Persons applying for citizenship will need to be loyal and sincere towards Seychelles and show the contribution they have towards the development of their adoptive country. The new law will also outline the conditions for the revocation of citizenship when the national interest is threatened.

A new “permanent residency” status will also be introduced which will allow foreign nationals to live in Seychelles, who have the necessary financial means to do so, without enjoying the rights of full citizenship such as social security, pension, voting rights. They would however be able to work and invest in businesses in categories which are not reserved for Seychellois.

He said housing applicants who are contributing to the “home saving schemes” would be given priority for housing, and he urged those who are waiting for a house to work hard and make their payments towards a house, which will be deducted from their loan once they have a house.

In 2012, the government allocated 327 housing units on Ile Perseverance. A further 166 units have been completed and allocations will take place in the coming weeks once the infrastructure for the houses has been completed. This year a further 274 housing units will be built on Ile Perseverance. The government has completed another 16 units in other districts, and a further 25 units are planned for construction in the districts later this year.

The President announced that a major housing project would start this year for the construction of 180 housing units in three districts, with the assistance of a generous donation from the government of Abu Dhabi.

The President interacting informally with guests after the address