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National Assembly approves numerous budget allocations | 03 December 2019

The National Assembly yesterday approved budgets for entities under the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries and the Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development.

 

Seychelles Agricultural Agency

The first budget allocation to be considered and approved by the assembly yesterday was that of the Seychelles Agricultural Agency (SAA), represented in the assembly by Minister for Fisheries and Agriculture Charles Bastienne, principal secretary for agriculture Antoine Marie Moustache and chief executive of SAA, Linetta Estico.

Mrs Estico explained that the budget allocation for 2020 is R65,555,000, over R3 million in excess of the 2019 budget, to finance new schemes of compensation for the employees of the organisation, and a further R1 million to finance services from security providers.

Members of the assembly were interested in the latest developments and effectiveness of programmes and initiatives of the entity, emphasising the need to improve local production and to attract youths into the sector.

The panel spoke of the provisions of the Agriculture Comprehensive plan, a three-year strategy aimed at revitalising the sector, infrastructure projects and facilities such as the poultry abattoir at Le Rocher.

Mrs Estico announced an insurance scheme for farmers to be enforced as of January 2020.  

With regards to the entity’s forecasted revenue for agricultural land which is leased to farmers, Mrs Estico noted that the rate for such land is R0.32 per square metre annually. A total of R612,000 was forecasted as receipt for 2019, although the entity has only managed to recover R410,000 thus far.

She noted that efforts are being made to fast-track leases, mainly in the instance where the land has not been demarcated, to allow the entity to generate such revenues and enable the farmers themselves, to benefit from loans and other services.

The assembly also unanimously approved the budget for the National Biosecurity Agency (NBA) for R30,764,000 with 28 votes.

 

Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development

Minister for Education and Human Resource Development Jeanne Simeon, principal secretary for early childhood, primary and secondary education Odile de Comarmond and principal secretary for tertiary education and human resource development Linda Barallon appeared before the assembly during the afternoon session to defend the ministry’s increased budget, amounting to R944,281,000.

The budget was approved by 27 votes.

Explaining an increase of around R64 million under tertiary and non-university education, Dr Barallon noted the construction of the Seychelles Business Studies Academy (SBSA) and Seychelles Institute of Art and Design (SIAD). A further component is for high-tech equipment for the Seychelles Institute of Technology (SIT). It must be noted that professional centres are in the process of becoming autonomous.

Minister Simeon further elaborated to list numerous educational institutions that are old in structure and in need of maintenance, attributing the allocation of around R16 million under infrastructure to maintenance of existing facilities.

With regards to the increment in the allocation for Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) and office expenses under the heading, from R227,000 to R2,115,000, Dr de Comarmond referred to the new TVET institution to be established and the stationery requirements for the facility.

In response to queries about a new crèche and primary school for Grand Anse Praslin, Minister Simeon noted that the project is expected to be underway as from July 2020, once STC vacates the premises. Work on the Praslin secondary school has been allocated R15.7 million under the budget whereas the construction of the primary school and crèche is expected to amount to R9 million, for which provisions have been made in the budget.

As for two allocations, namely, R1,300,000 and R8,646,000, it was explained that the R1.3 million is an ongoing sum and is dedicated towards more urgent maintenance on schools but on account that last year the ministry was forced to undertake emergency works on some schools upon the request of parents and district authorities, the allocation will finance other works.

It was also explained that the R8,646,000 is for improvement of recreational facilities at state schools.

Numerous members of the assembly were concerned about the role and functioning of school councils and the number of expatriate teachers employed with the ministry. Minister Simeon revealed that in the coming year, the ministry is planning to recruit more expatriate teachers, noting a R5.87 million increment in the budget allocation towards salary and housing payments.

The assembly further questioned the panel as to security within educational institutions, projects at primary and secondary schools within their constituencies as well as remuneration for educators and employees within the ministry.

The assembly also approved the budgets for the Seychelles Qualification Authority (SQA) for a sum of R7,874,000 and that of the Institute of Early Childhood Development (IECD), totalling in at R16,983,000.

A sum of R3,720,000 for the Tertiary Education Commission (Tec) was also approved along with the budget allocation for the Agency for National Human Resource Development (ANHRD) for R205,189,000.

The assembly will resume this morning with an urgent question by leader of the opposition in the National Assembly, Wavel Ramkalawan, on the supplementary allowance for public servants, announced by President Danny Faure. The budget debates are scheduled to start at 11am whereby the budget allocations for the Landscape and Waste Management Agency, National Botanical Foundation and Electoral Commission will be considered.

 

Laura Pillay

 

 

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