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National Assembly

‘There will be no increase in the price of essential commodities’ – Minister | 06 May 2020

There is sufficient essential commodities, namely, salt, rice, onions, potatoes, red lentils, sugar, milk, oil, apples, oranges, infant formula, flour, margarine and toilet paper, on the market and in stock and there will be no increase in the price of these essential commodities despite the devaluation of the rupee.

Fisheries and Agriculture Minister Charles Bastienne, who also heads the high- level committee on food security surveillance, said this in the National Assembly yesterday.

Minister Bastienne assured the assembly that there is no cause for concern in terms of supply of essential products as such products are still being imported into the country and on account that the committee is in regular contact with the Seychelles Trading Company (STC) and other major importers of essential products for stock analysis, and discussions.

With regard to the supply of fuel, Minister Bastienne assured that the Seychelles Petroleum Company (Seypec) has sufficient stock to last from eight to sixteen weeks for certain oil-based products as well as a six-month stock for liquefied petroleum gas (LPG).

During the session, Minister Bastienne also addressed the issue of artisanal fishermen, who have since the local outbreak and shutdown of the tourism industry struggled to sell their catch.

The minister noted that the ministry has stepped up to ensure significantly reduced operating costs for fishermen including the price of bait and ice, and that they have established set prices at which they can sell their catch to fish processors, to be eventually distributed by STC. Thus far, 42 tonnes of fish have been purchased from artisanal fishermen, 8.5 tonnes of which have been distributed to STC and other retailers.

As for those engaged in the sea cucumber trade, Minister Bastienne announced the decision to extend the season for one month, ending June instead of May.

During the lengthy session, members of the assembly expressed concerns over whether artisanal fishermen are being disadvantaged against the fish processors and STC, who make significant profits per kilo of fish.

Concerns and queries were also centered on agriculture and the necessity to revitalise the sector towards improving food security and encouraging more to join the sector.

It was proposed that farmers and potential farmers have easier access to financing to develop farms and agricultural land allocated to them.

The high-level committee was established by President Danny Faure towards the end of March to manage and ensure the country is on solid footing in terms of food security during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Laura Pillay

 

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