Four more budgets approved | 14 November 2019
The National Assembly yesterday entered into its third day of cross-examinations of the 2020 budget, where it approved the sums allocated for the National Arts Council, National Sports Council, Agency for the Prevention of Drug Abuse and Rehabilitation and the Regional Maritime Security bodies.
All of these entities fall under the portfolio of the Designated Minister Macsuzy Mondon who was again present at yesterday’s sitting.
A total of R8,865,000 was approved for the National Arts Council (Nac), a sum which is around R2 million less than the council received in the 2019 revised budget.
Nac was represented by its chief executive Jimmy Savy accompanied by the special advisor for culture Emmanuel D’Offay.
Its 2020 budget has been apportioned to two main programmes – R5,150,000 for governance, management and administration and R3,133,000 for arts promotion services.
Mr Savy explained that the decrease in Nac’s budget for 2020 is due to the fact that the council does not have any capital project lined up for next year as it did last year.
He noted that the budget would be sufficient for the council’s plans for 2020, although he added that the Nac “would like to get more funds but we will try to deliver as much with the amount we have been given”.
This was followed by the approval of the National Sports Council (NSC) which this year got less allocation (R77,736,000) than in 2019 (R85,330,000).
R45,001,000 will be apportioned to sports management and development and from this sum R2,304,000 will go towards sports medicine, R31,778,000 to sports development and training, R5,226,000 to the programme sports for all and R5,962,000 to regional sports development.
LDS member for Bel Air Norbert Loizeau wanted some clarity to the status of the basketball federation which has not been conforming to proper auditing norms since it is no longer holding any matches.
“The federation was found not to be in conformity with the registrar. It has been asked to come up with an action plan to get out of this problem but it will have to make the first step before NSC can assist,” the chief executive of NSC, Jean Larue, said.
He added that the basketball federation can still hold sponsored competitions but that its executive committee will not receive grants from the government until it fixes its internal issues.
Proportionally elected US member Sebastien Pillay asked the NSC to review its ‘hands-off approach’ in regards to federations since he asserted that the country cannot afford to have some of its best athletes sidelined due to internal conflicts within federations. He asked the NSC to be more proactive and come up with its own development programmes for sport in Seychelles, particularly when it comes to the national teams.
Mr Pillay also questioned whether the NSC is satisfied with the level of maintenance work on sports facilities to which Mr Larue replied that he was not satisfied because many facilities have not been properly maintained.
Minister Mondon asserted that the council is looking into acquiring the services of more than one agency to conduct maintenance works on these facilities and stated that there is a possibility for tenders to be sent out by the start of next year.
In response to a question from LDS member for Anse Boileau Phillip Arrisol, Mr Larue revealed that “the Victoria Gymnasium is 99% completed and we are expected to receive the keys tomorrow [November 14, 2019] from the contractors.”
“The handover had been scheduled for two weeks ago but this was not possible due to the fact that PUC had not yet tested all of the lighting and wirings,” he further noted.
According to the CEO, the only jobs left to be done at the gymnasium are to install the scoreboard and the PA system.
The renovations on the gymnasium have amounted to a total cost of R7. 4 million.
The National Assembly also approved the R73,233,000 budget for the Agency for the Prevention of Drug Abuse and Rehabilitation (Apdar), which is a massive increase from its 2019 revised budget of R47,443, 000.
Around R10 million has been dedicated to the construction of its rehabilitation village which Minister Mondon yesterday confirmed will not be built at Cap Ternay as initially planned.
Apdar was mainly represented on the panel by its chief executive Geralda Desaubin and the secretary of state for prevention of drug abuse and rehabilitation Dr Patrick Herminie.
Ms Desaubin defended Apdar’s R2.4 million annual rental fee at the KB Emporium building, Providence by stating that they were previously paying a larger sum of R3.6 million while the agency was spread out in three separate buildings.
She noted that this makes a saving of around more than R1 million.
On his part, LDS member for Anse Etoile Ahmed Afif questioned the reasoning behind the agency’s overseas airfare and subsistence budget head which has even surpassed the National Assembly’s R936,000 allocated for the same heading.
Dr Herminie replied that given that Apdar was recently created, it needs to reinforce its capability and human resource through various trainings which are sometimes hosted overseas as well as with overseas visits to identify best practices and to attend various forums for networking.
He stressed that these trips are neither excessive nor unnecessary and further stated that his own trips and per diems are financed through the President’s Office rather than Apdar’s budget.
A hot topic for debate yesterday was the allowances for peer educators – the recovering addicts who conduct outreach programmes in ‘ghettos’ to get more people off drugs.
They are currently being a paid an allowance of R6,500 for their services and the leader of the opposition Wavel Ramkalawan strongly felt that this is not enough given the challenges of their work.
Finance principal secretary Damien Thésée replied that the ministry of finance would evaluate the situation in conjunction with Apdar since the peer educators are presently not employed with the agency.
The last budget to be approved yesterday was that of the Regional Maritime Security bodies with a sum of R9,061,000.
The Regional Maritime Security bodies comprise the National Information Sharing and Co-ordination Centre (NISCC), the Regional Centre for Operational Coordination (RCOC) and the Regional Fusion and Law Enforcement Centre for Safety and Security at Sea (REFLECS3).
Their common mandate is to coordinate information and operations on maritime safety and security and any other related issues in conformity with national legislation, the Africa Integrated Maritime Strategy (AIMS- 2050) and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea 1982 (UNCLOS III).