Assembly approves nomination of three ministers | 29 October 2020
On the order of business for the seventh cohort of the National Assembly during the first sitting yesterday were thirteen motions pertaining to the nomination and approval of thirteen ministers, as proposed by President Wavel Ramkalawan, in accordance with Article 63 (1) and 69 (2) of the Constitution.
Due to time constraints, the assembly was only able to hear from three of the nominees, all of whom had their nominations approved by the assembly.
They are Naadir Hassan, Peggy Vidot and Patricia Francourt.
From the onset, the motion was met with some pessimism, most notably from leader of the opposition Sebastien Pillay, who noted that United Seychelles (US) members were yet to receive the CVs of the proposed ministers, a standard which was established by the sixth assembly.
Honourable Pillay asserted the importance of adhering to established standards, especially in relation to appointment of individuals into offices whereby they will be working in the interest of the population.
Members of the assembly were remitted with the required CVs, in preparation for the motion.
The three motions were forwarded by leader of government business Bernard Georges.
Thirty-eight year old Naadir Hassan hails from Anse Royale. He holds qualifications in finance and economics, holding a degree in International business, finance and economics and a Masters degree in Banking and Finance. Over recent years, Mr Hassan has served at the Ministry of Finance, where he started off in 2005 as a policy analyst, before moving on to the Central Bank of Seychelles (CBS) where he was Head of Financial Surveillance, where he has been involved in leading numerous projects including the 2008 economic reforms, as well as liaising with international partners such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank.
As of four months ago, Mr Hassan joined telecommunications company Cable and Wireless as chief digital and risk officer.
Despite not having been assigned a specific portfolio yet, the assembly was mainly concerned with proposed financial and economic strategies to address the downturn in the local economy.
Mr Hassan asserted the importance of a sustainable budget, highlighting that financial stability is an important element for economic stability.
Mr Hassan added that it is necessary to diversify the economy in the medium to long-term.
In response to the assembly’s questions, Mr Hassan highlighted the importance of helping businesses and citizens through the difficult economic times brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“I think a lot of things can be explored in relation to the cost of living, there are numerous factors that impact on the cost of life. There are factors such as foreign exchange, what affects the foreign exchange rate, there is tax, other factors such as competition in the market, a lot of commentary has been made on the role of Seychelles Trading Company, and even utilities, telecommunications, electricity and water. I think these are all elements that need to be analysed and assessed so we can reduce the cost of living,” Mr Hassan stated.
In concluding his motion, Hon. Georges commended Mr Hassan, referring to him as the right person to work under the government that President Ramkalawan has envisioned for the next five years.
He suggested that Mr Hassan would be best suited to the position of Ministry of Finance.
Hon. Pillay was also in agreement with Mr Hassan’s appointment on account that Mr Hassan has shown sincerity and determination, and is talented and competent for the position.
Mr Hassan’s appointment was endorsed by 32 votes.
Peggy Vidot has forged her career in the healthcare and medical field, where she has worked as a nurse and midwife. She holds a Masters degree in Health Services Management and has over the years had a long and varied career in Seychelles, having worked at the hospital, and to establish primary healthcare facilities and later directed nursing for numerous years.
She has also worked at the Commonwealth Secretariat London where she held the position of Health Advisor to other commonwealth countries, as well as other international organisations, including the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Upon her return to Seychelles, Ms Vidot worked as a health advisor with the Ministry of Health where she was also tasked with implementing reforms to improve the level of care within the facilities.
Ms Vidot highlighted that health workers need to be valorised and equipped with the right knowledge, aptitude and opportunities to gain experience, resources and tools, to encourage them to deliver the quality level of service expected of them.
“That’s what I would like to see, a healthcare service that delivers a quality service to the population, in an equitable manner, in an acceptable way and at a level which meets international standards,” she said.
“I suppose the vision we have for health is to improve the health of our people in general. This is done through various means and at each time, there is a more suitable method. Improve the service and elevating the standards,” she stated.
As with Mr Hassan’s proposed appointment, the majority of members from both sides of the table were in favour of Mrs Vidot’s nomination based on her talent, vast experience and excellent work principles.
The assembly voted to approve her proposed appointment. No votes were recorded against the motion and it was approved by 26 votes in favour.
Patricia Francourt is a Seychelloise who has lived abroad for quite some time, having left for the United Kingdom (UK) in 1987, a place where she grew and flourished. Having started off her career in banking, Mrs Francourt then found her passion for volunteerism, before opting for re-training and switching over a career in education.
After 23 years in the UK, Mrs Francourt returned home “to be part of Seychelles and bring my expertise”, she said, introducing herself to the assembly.
In Seychelles, Mrs Francourt established her own business consultancy whereby she conducts workforce training.
The assembly was particularly concerned with inclusivity, youths and social ills in Seychelles, to which Mrs Francourt noted that her first task as minister would be to determine what the issues are in whatever portfolio she is allocated, rather than trying to find solutions without knowing the extent of the problem.
She further enlightened the assembly as to the various projects that she has initiated for and with the youths since her return, and her involvement for good and charitable causes, leading the assembly to speculate that she might be assigned the Family and Social Affairs portfolio.
Mrs Francourt’s nomination was approved by 25 votes in favour.
The nominations of a further 10 candidates for the position of minister are expected to be tabled before the assembly today, prior to the swearing-in of approved nominations.
Photos: Thomas Meriton