Getus’ position paper on financial support for private sector amid COVID-19 in Seychelles | 01 April 2020
The General Employer Trade Union of Seychelles (Getus) fully supports the Seychelles Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) with regard to the importance of assisting the private sector financially and also morally as we all are facing a very difficult period.
The fragility of our little archipelago is affected like any other country in the world, but as we are a small island state which depends in the main on tourist and export, there is a need to review all the businesses’ strategies and think of new ways of doing business.
The press conference held on Sunday March 29, 2020 by SS Patrick Payet and the chairman of SCCI, Oliver Bastienne, representing the private sector, has clearly shown the commitment of the private sector to work and support the government of Seychelles by presenting the private sector’s views and concerns.
It is important to underline the disappointment Getus has felt when it was announced that the government did not accept the private sector’s suggestion of self-evaluation as process for the financial support claims.
It is important to bring to the attention of the government and the private sector that self-evaluation could have been applied to specific sectors with a low income and with no proper financial department, such as CFOs, finance officers, etc.
The government’s approach is imposing a long process of assessment (lots of paper work in a short space of time) and a very difficult process to those micro and small businesses and self-employed who do not have the resources in place.
These small businesses will need to find a way to create in less than 15 days a financial department, put together a series of documents that they probably don’t have, in a situation where staff are requested to work from home, stay home, take leave, or where businesses at the moment are closed and not able to operate due to the nature of the business and lack of customers.
Getus is also supporting the taxi association with its concerns as there are many self-employed and micro businesses who are living on a daily basis income, working hard to be able to support their families and cannot produce pay slip, bank statement or tax return. These categories of entrepreneurs should have
been considered differently, allowing self-assessment. Businesses such as:
• Taxi operator
• Omnibus operator
• Street vendors
• Cleaning agencies
• And any other self-employed, micro or small business with a yearly income below 150K.
As per the statement of the chairman of the taxi association, the nature of taxi operation is based on daily incomes and daily expenses (e.g. fuel, maintenance, etc). Taxis do not have regular incomes, and the same applies to musicians who also have regular expenses (equipment maintenance, transport, etc) or street
vendors and omnibus operators. The monthly income varies, based on the tourist, on the weather, on a large range of factors that cannot be predicted.
Their bank statement will never reflect the actual income as per other categories of businesses with a more regular income as their expenses are paid on a pay-as-you-go basis. This will not mean that they are not working hard to cover their expenses and it will not be fair to suggest that because they don’t have complicated financial systems, or financial department (e.g.: pay slip, tax return, contract, or cash flows document) they will have to be rediverted to social assistance or receiving only the minimum wage.
As per the statement of SS Payet, the financial committee did not accept the self-assessment due to a potential risk of abuse; this is understandable, as it is the Ministry of Finance’s responsibility to ensure that tax payers’ money is used correctly. Getus supports the entire system for those businesses with high income, but for those small businesses listed above, with a yearly income less than 150K, govbernment could have considered conducting random checks; this will have ensured reduction in abuse and discourage fraudulent claims.
As conclusion, Getus is of the view that the government is making it very difficult for businesses to qualify so that a lot of them would simply not claim. Unfortunately, most of these would be the medium and small businesses, sole traders, etc. At the end of the day it will be survival of the fittest with this type of
approach. Getus will always be present to defend the private sector, from the micro to the largest entrepreneur, and with the support of all the other stakeholders from the private sector we will continue to work together to reach the best solution for all.
Contributed by Getus