NA approves motion to investigate islands lease transactions |23 June 2022
The National Assembly yesterday afternoon approved a motion asking the government to conduct an investigation in the leasing of islands to private individuals and as a result establish if the people of Seychelles and the country’s economy are benefiting through these arrangements.
The motion was brought forward by Linyon Demokratik Seselwa’s (LDS) elected member for Mont Buxton, Honourable Gervais Henrie. He stated that he had tabled the motion as there are suspicions and speculations of illegal and non-transparent dealings that took place in the facilitation of the lease transactions of islands and that only a minor few have benefited.
He further stated that as the country has limited land resources, it (land) is considered as a precious commodity for every Seychellois.
He noted that there are 819 properties that are in the hands of foreign individuals and foreign group of companies in the country including some which have been leased by government for a period up to 99 years.
Hon. Henrie explained that his motion is only querying on what are the islands that have properties that have been leased out, who are the lease owners, how much they have paid, how many were refused a lease and why, how many leases have changed hands, is this type of economic model still worthwhile for the country and is the country and the people benefiting from those lease transactions, among others.
He noted though that the state has the right to lease land to private individuals or companies to use and develop those properties but up to a specific contracted period and for economic benefits.
He said that state land should be leased for specific activities only such as tourism, agriculture or sports and telecommunications facilities.
He stated that all potential lease properties on all islands should be made known to the Seychellois public and the transactions, among others, should be transparent to avoid suspicions and misperception among the public.
Only three LDS members intervened on the motion and the first to speak was proportionate member Doyace Poris, who seconded the motion.
She stated that such an investigation would be important as it is not known who are the people leasing the plots of land and how many they are, taking into account the many land abuses in the past.
Proportionate member Flory Larue said because of the limited land resources and with a growing population, government must make sure that all decisions taken in regard to leases of land bring a tangible benefit to the economy and the people.
The last member to speak in favour of the motion was the elected member for Bel Ombre, Hon. Sandy Arissol, who noted that it is important that the people are given all the information about the lease transactions and what is happening on all the islands to avoid speculation in relation to fraud and corruption and to further encourage people, especially young people, to go and work on these islands.
In his summing up, Hon. Henrie thanked his LDS colleagues who intervened on his motion which he said is pressing government for action.
A total of 16 members voted for the motion, none against, while 8 members abstained from voting.