UN trade body’s SG calls on finance minister-‘Seychelles has made the right economic decision’


Dr Panitchpakdi and his delegation (left) in talks with Minister Laporte and other finance staff

Invited by the Seychelles government as a guest at the celebration of country’s 20th National Day of the Third Republic, Dr Panitchpakdi made the declaration during a short meeting with Finance, Trade and Investment Minister Pierre Laporte at Liberty House on Monday afternoon.

Dr Panitchpakdi said that by choosing to embark on the reform programme, Seychelles adopted the Austrian economic theory whereby “good decisions are made during bad times”.

He advised the finance minister to remain “economically cautious”, but stated “he believed that at a difficult moment, Seychelles has made the right decision”.

The UNCTAD secretary general mentioned the country’s efficient management of foreign debt and the independence of our financial institutions such as the Central Bank and the Fair Trading Commission as good components of the reform programme which can be a model to other countries.

“Seychelles has been a good example in managing foreign debts, example which can be useful to other countries within the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa). I have also seen very competent people at the Central Bank and the Fair Trading Commission. I would like to see the independence of those institutions being preserved and not absorbed by bureaucracies which would affect their effectiveness. Your country’s good practices can be shared among other countries,” he said.

Minister Laporte responded by saying  it is very important for Seychelles to have the visible support as shown by the UNCTAD, which confirms to both the government and the people that we are doing the right thing.

The finance minister was also thankful to the United Nations agency for its assistance which has come in three main areas: The drafting of the Fair Trading Commission’s competition policy which has brought considerable change in the trade sector since the country recognised the need of a modern framework, the introduction of the computerised customs management system known as ASYCUDA World which the minister feels will be fully operational in a week’s time despite a difficult transition, and the process of Seychelles’ accession to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) which will be completed this year.

Dr Panitchpakdi commented that ASYCUDA World will be beneficial to the Seychelles economy as the quick handling of goods will reduce importation costs.
He said he was hopeful that Seychelles will be admitted to the WTO, admission which he feels will be a good thing as it will offer the opportunity for the country to continue to be a good voice for small island developing states (Sids). 

The UNCTAD secretary general promised that although sometimes life is made hard in the international arena for small economies, his organisation will continue to respond to any extra help our country could need in the areas of trade policy elaboration or staff training, and will maintain its support for any policy towards good business and good governance which will put in place regulatory framework and ease the business market.

“Working with Seychelles has been a great experience. By helping you we are helping other countries by applying the Seychelles experience to those countries,” he concluded.