National Assembly calls for urgent national dialogue for solutions to COVID-19 challenges | 28 May 2020
The National Assembly yesterday resumed debate on a motion forwarded by Honourable Bernard Georges during last week’s sitting which calls on the government to rally together all important sectors and initiate an urgent national dialogue on the measures aimed at protecting the health of the nation as the country gears up to open borders, measures to mitigate the impacts of the downturn of the economy and country, during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.
Honourable Egbert Aglae expressed support for the motion urging collective action and responsibility in the interest of the population and for the national dialogue to address inflation and the elevated price of life, the unprecedented rise in unemployment and uncertain times ahead for businesses in the wake of the pandemic.
Honourable Terrence Mondon also expressed support for the motion noting that there is often a lack of consultation on the part of the government in taking major decisions and the necessity for government to create an environment in which honest national dialogues and discussions are welcomed and valorised, towards more effective and efficient policies and decisions.
United Seychelles (US) elected member for Baie St Anne Praslin, Honourable Churchill Gill, called for an evaluation of the employment sector to formulate a re-skilling programme and ensure jobs for the many who are now seeking employment.
Both Linyon Demokratik Seselwa (LDS) member Honourable Florry Larue and Honourable Audrey Vidot, the US elected member for Roche Caiman, expressed support for the motion while Honourable Jean-François Ferrari, the member for Mont Fleuri, centred his intervention on the necessity to do things differently going forward and to find new opportunities and adapt to the new reality, urging a positive approach.
Numerous other members intervened on the motion, each taking every opportunity to fire shots at the rival party and to make propositions as to issues and challenges brought about by the pandemic which should be addressed and prioritised during the national dialogue.
“Dialogue, listening and consultation prior to taking decisions that impact on our people and country are really important and we need to take different perspectives into account before such decisions are taken. Through this motion, an individual is given hope because being given an opportunity to voice out will make Seychellois more patriotic than ever,” Honourable François Adelaide, LDS member for Baie Lazare, stated confidently.
Honourable Sebastien Pillay, a US member, acknowledged the merit of the motion but asserted that members of LDS, who have majority seats in the assembly, brought forth the motion so as to ensure that discussions are per LDS’ terms and conditions, and pointing out that the government prioritises consultations when needed.
Similarly, leader of government business Charles De Comarmond argued that consultations and dialogues are a priority to President Danny Faure, highlighting the diversification on boards and committees and the numerous forums which members of the assembly themselves are invited to for dialogues, which seek to unite the nation.
“The division we create in here also causes division outside and this is not good for our people. In spite of this COVID-19 situation, it is important as it allows us to see what opportunities can be made from it and how we as a nation can move forward,” he said, however expressing support for the motion and calling on the authorities to consult the public in relation to the pandemic.
LDS elected member for St Louis, Honourable Sandy Arrissol, in his intervention cautioned of the possibility of the motion falling on deaf ears, arguing that the plea for consultations dates back a few years, claiming that not much has been achieved on that front thus far.
He presented to the assembly numerous examples in which he claims that consultations either failed or were not considered as a basis for major decisions taken by the government.
Leader of the opposition, Wavel Ramkalawan, was last to intervene and referred to the ongoing discussions to put in place policies to address the issue of employment, re-training and reskilling, pointing out delays in finalising a policy and amendments to employment legislation due to outcry by the private sector that there were no consultations.
“The motion is one for the future. Its time will come and we will have to look at things in a different way,” Honourable Ramkalawan concluded.
In wrapping up the motion, Honourable Bernard Georges said the motion looks forward urging collective action to finding solutions to the challenges posed by the pandemic.
He clarified that he does not intend that LDS nor the assembly be included in the urgent national dialogue, but that rather it is up to government to decide who important players are.
“If we don’t do this, we won’t be able to overcome the problem, as it is one which we all have to face together. At this moment, we need all ideas to be put together and to spark other ideas. We need to all sit together and contribute ideas and continue to meet for the conversation,” Honourable Georges said, urging that everyone, most specifically leaders, be proactive.
The motion was approved by 29 votes in favour.