Assembly approves budgets under several ministries | 27 November 2019
The National Assembly yesterday resumed its debates on the Appropriation Bill 2020 and approved the budgets for the Seychelles Land Transport Authority (SLTA) and the Ministry of Tourism, Civil Aviation, Ports and Marine among others.
Seychelles Land Transport Agency (SLTA)
The Minister for Habitat, Infrastructure and Land Transport (MHILT) Pamela Charlette, chief executive of SLTA Parinda Herath and deputy chief executive Nicola Hoareau appeared before the assembly yesterday morning to defend the R211,162,000 budget allocated to the entity for the upcoming year.
Members of the assembly were particularly concerned with specific projects within their own constituencies and whether the budget will serve to rectify some of the issues pertaining to access roads and asphalting works among others.
The panel confirmed a series of projects which are either underway or are scheduled to start in 2020, to be financed by the budget, including R1.5 million towards the ongoing reconstruction of the road from La Gogue dam to St Jean Baptiste Church, Glacis, an ongoing project which is expected to be completed in 2021.
It was also highlighted that one of the biggest challenges faced by the agency is way-leave negotiations with private land-owners who are often reluctant or unreasonable in their expectations and cause major delays in some planned projects.
Members were also concerned with budgetary increments as compared to preceding years, questioning the efficiency and efficacy of the agency. The 2020 budget increased by R6.2 million as compared to 2019.
CEO Herath explained the R1.71 million to finance the new scheme for the 57 employees involved with asphalting and resurfacing, in line with standards established by the Department of Public Administration (DPA).
He noted a further R2.775 million for the relocation of the Petit Paris asphalt department to Zone 20. According to Mr Herath, the location at Petit Paris is to house a project by MHILT and it is thus necessary to vacate the premises at the earliest and to transfer staff and equipment to the new site at Providence.
With regard to an increment of around R3.5 million under wages and salaries, Mr Herath explained that R900,000 is to finance a scheme for project officers and quantity surveyors, R84,000 for long-service allowance and a further R400,000 to finance salary and 13th month salary increases.
Mr Herath also explained an R8.7 million increment in goods and services primarily for asphalting works and road maintenance and small projects across all districts.
Seychelles Tourism Board (STB)
Twenty-four members of the assembly voted to approve the R145,182,000 budget for the Seychelles Tourism Board (STB), which was represented before the assembly by chief executive Sherin Francis and Minister for Tourism, Civil Aviation, Ports and Marine Didier Dogley.
CEO Francis noted that there has only been a minor increase in STB’s budget from last year, of around R1 million, primarily to finance compensation of employees.
The assembly questioned the panel as to the budget allocated to marketing, as well as a R19 million for professional services, of which R17 million is allocated to service agreements. CEO Francis noted that service agreements were formerly called legal fees and is used for legal services to formulate employment contracts, among other legal needs of the entity.
Other concerns revolved around initiatives to support small tourism establishments who cannot afford large marketing budgets, the leasing of beach beds as well as the budget allocated to international marketing, whereby members were interested to know the different markets in which STB has a permanent presence and the finances allocated to them.
The assembly also voted and approved the budget for the Ministry of Tourism, Civil Aviation, Ports and Marine, totalling in at R60,646,000 by 27 votes and 20 voted in favour of the R12,299,000 allocated to the Seychelles Maritime Safety Administration (SMSA).
Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC)
During the afternoon session, the assembly considered and unanimously approved the Anti-Corruption Commission’s budget, amounting to R19,000,045.
It was noted that the budget for the entity increased by R5 million, the majority of which has been allocated to wages, to which chief executive of ACC, May De Silva, and three other officials from the commission, explained that the team of investigators has expanded by 50 percent over the past year.
The entity’s parent regulation underwent some changes in August, imparting powers to the commission to prosecute persons which will require some structural changes within the commission, Ms De Silva said, although most of the provisions for this will be included in next year’s budget.
Ms De Silva also, upon request, outlined the procedures when an individual files a complaint. She also proposed certain weaknesses within the Parent Act of the entity which she cited as leading to delays in resolving cases before them.
The assembly will resume its budget debates this morning with the department of Culture, starting with the Creative Industries and National Events Agency (Cinea), the department of Prison and Office of the Mayor.