Vice-President Vincent Meriton’s quarterly press conference | 22 November 2019
‘We will never give up on setting up an embassy in Mauritius’
“We will never give up on setting up an embassy in Mauritius. It is a necessity for Seychelles to have a representation in the region as we have a joint maritime management area with Mauritius to look for resources in our seas.”
Vice-President Vincent Meriton said this yesterday at his office at State House during his fourth quarterly press conference to comment on the portfolios falling under his responsibilities.
The other hot topics of the press conference included the budget of DICT which was voted down by the National Assembly and the case of the three Seychellois imprisoned in Egypt.
Department of Information, Communications and Technology (DICT)
“Following the non-approval of the DICT budget I met with the 72 staff of DICT and reassured them that the government will do whatever is takes to ensure the security of their employment. I also gave the assurance that there is no disruption in the services that they are providing to the government, to the private sector and to the population in general. We have to appreciate that their services are omnipresent in all services of the government. I also compiled a report with all the required information and options on DICT and sent it to the President Danny Faure. He formally told me that once he studied the case, he will address the issue in due time. I gave the reassurance that all staff will keep their job and DICT will continue to fulfill its mandate.”
Speaking about the sale of C&W to a group of Seychellois and if that will improve the service of technology in the country, the VP said that we should wait until all formalities are done.
Access to information was also raised and the VP noted that an Information Commission had already been appointed and the commission is currently working with the information officers so that they know what kind of information they can provide to the public.
Department of Foreign Affairs
Case of the three Seychellois incarcerated for drug trafficking in Egypt
It has been five years since the three Seychellois – Ronny Norman Jean, Yvon John Vinda and Dean Dominic Loze – were sentenced to death by execution on April 7, 2013 and have had their sentence commuted to life imprisonment. So far, there has been no news from the Egyptian government about transferring them to Seychelles to continue with their sentence.
The VP noted that “our team in Addis Ababa remains in contact with the detainees and the family. Whenever there are possibilities, our ambassador visits them and make sure they receive the basic needs such as food and medical assistance. We are giving the necessary support within the convention we signed with Egypt and we already made an official request for the three Seychellois to be expatriated to Seychelles for their sentence to be served here, but so far we have not received any news from them, although several reminders have been sent to them.
“In our diplomatic relationship, each country has its norms when treating different issues. We cannot force any country to change their decision but we can negotiate with them and for now we are still waiting”.
“Let me seize this opportunity to remind all Seychellois to guide our children and families when we visit other countries, and that we should conform to the laws of that country and let us not fall prey to illegal activities. We do have embassies and consulates to advise us if we need any guidance.”
Embassy of Seychelles in Mauritius
VP Meriton was clear about this subject and said that “we will never give up on setting up an embassy in Mauritius. It is a necessity for Seychelles to have a representation in the region as we have a joint maritime management area with Mauritius to look for resources in our seas.
If there is any company who wants to invest in our seas, it is important for us to be present there. Mauritius has a vibrant international life and they have 16 embassies, 5 consulates and four international and regional organisations present in their country. They also host many international organisations and having a presence there is very important. The importance of having an embassy in Mauritius was outlined in the National Assembly itself. Already a committee has worked on a report to be presented on this issue and we hope that the R1.9 million will be unfrozen.
The Civil Society, portfolio for Religious Affairs, and Outer Islands
“Government will continue to support the civil society in general as we feel that the work being done is a follow up of government’s work for the population. Civil society is a partner for the government. It is normal for the government to support them but at the same time, they should also look for funding with the private sector.”
VP Meriton also talked about the collaboration that the civil society should have with the private sector and work more with the Seychelles Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI). “Civil society helps in the work being conducted directly with the community such as projects regarding environment, family life or even religious. This is why the government is reinforcing the partnership with Ceps (Citizens Engagement Platform Seychelles) by signing a few memorandums of understanding which will allow them to get funding from other sources also,” he said.
Civil society plays a key role in the development of the country and if we do not involve the civil society, internationally we do not look good. We gave the assurance that we will continue to work with Ceps and its different commissions.
Seychelles Interfaith Council (Sifco)
Sifco falls under the Vice-President’s Office and VP Meriton meets with them twice a year and four times with the principal secretary to address various topics relating to religions and faith. “Together we see how to bring the words of God and new spiritual dimensions in the society and improve the quality of life of our family.”
Department of Industries and Entrepreneurship Development
A concern was brought about how locals are still having challenges to do business in Seychelles even if the government has put in place several mechanisms. The locals say that they still cannot go through.
In this regard, VP Meriton noted that “in general the government is working a lot to ease the business arena for more locals to venture in. With various agencies and department, we are working together to make the environment better. We are also offering specific training for those interested. There are many small businesses that are contributing and playing a major role in the country. ESA is working with some 10 000 small businesses and trying to find out their challenges. With the Seed capital grant of R50,000 some 75 people are benefitting. Once someone enters a business, we have to take full responsibility of our business and not just spend all the money earned without control”.
VP Meriton also spoke about the “Seychelles Made” label where 50% of the process should be made locally and encourages transmitting the knowledge to the younger generation
Comment on the budget: “Let’s take heed of the words from the young Misael Bristol who wants to see Seychelles develop for his parents, for his government, for his judiciary and we remain the country that is a model for the world. If we let ourselves be guided by these thoughts we will come out with a good budget.”
The press conference was also attended by Shelda Commettant, Special Advisor (Information) in the Office of the Vice-President; Angelique Antat, principal secretary, Department of Industry and Entrepreneurship Development; Denis Rose, principal secretary, Department of Information; Xavier Estico, chief executive of the National Institute for Science, Technology and Innovation and senior representatives from the Department of Information, Communications & Technology (DICT) and the Department of the Blue Economy.