National Assembly |29 March 2023
LWMA payments, land allocation and PUC works addressed by Minister Joubert
The Ministry of Agriculture, Climate Change and Environment (MACCE) will soon be signing a new agreement with the Development Bank of Seychelles (DBS) to allow farmers to borrow more, and for a wider array of activities to be supported under the loan facility.
Minister Flavien Joubert made the announcement while answering the National Assembly’s questions yesterday.
The minister noted that following works to survey 6 agricultural plots measuring some three hectares at Grand Anse, La Digue, last year, six applicants who will be producing vegetables and engaging in bee farming have been allocated with a plot.
The department of Agriculture has already budgeted for an irrigation system, road access and electricity access for the six plots, Minister Joubert stated.
The farmers will also be able to access loans through the Agricultural Development Fund with the Development Bank of Seychelles (DBS).
Additionally, the farmers will be able to access agricultural products on the Praslin store for the present time, until the completion of the La Digue store by the end of the year.
The seventh applicant has also been proposed a plot to meet their needs, meaning there will be no more applicants from La Digue.
Review of payment date for LWMA contractors
The Landscape and Waste Management Agency (LWMA) has no intentions of modifying the payment calendar for contractors working with the agency, as this is in line with the contractual conditions, Minister Joubert clarified.
As per the minister, payments are effected on time for services rendered by contractors, unless they submit their invoices late.
For the month of February 2023, 92 percent of all payments had been remitted to Treasury by the 27th and 28th, with the Treasury taking two days on average to effect the payment transfers.
In a bid to better control the process, LWMA is exploring other options, including digital payments.
“Payments cannot be effected earlier as this would be an anomaly in our system, as was raised by Auditors in the past when payments were effected prior to the services being delivered,” Minister Joubert added.
Invoices are supposed to be submitted between the first and fifth day of each month. Verification is done by the Procurement Oversight Unit (POU), prior to the payments being issued.
Plans to continue installation of pipes from Hilton Northolme hotel up until North East Point
“PUC recognises that the pipeline is degrading and that there is a necessity to replace part of the pipe immediately,” Minsiter Joubert said of the pipeline running from the Hilton Northolme hotel, up to North East Point.
The entity is to carry out works in two phases, the first which will begin this year and which will see the replacement of around 2 kilometres of pipes from the Sorento area to Vista do Mar, Glacis, where there are major breakages frequently. This is estimated at a cost of R5.7 million, and the works are expected to be completed by the year end.
A second phase, the replacement of some 2.5 kilometres from Vista do Mar to North East Point will be undertaken next year, based on PUC’s financial situation. It is expected to come to around R7.3 million.
Over the past five years, PUC has replaced some 26 kilometres of the 50 kilometres of pipes which need replacing in its network on Mahé. However, the company faces a number of constraints in doing so, namely, limited financial and human resources, way-leave negotiations and agreements, and the synchronising of its programme with the road resurfacing activities of the Seychelles Land Transport Agency (SLTA). Emergency projects also take precedence and cause delays in some instances.
PUC plans on replacing the remaining 24 kilometres over the next three to four years.
The Sorento to North East Point pipeline is the weakest point in the network within the Northern Mahé area. This means water shortages whenever water pressure is low for some Glacis residents.
Efforts to review situation of people illegally farming on government land
Any person farming on agricultural land belonging to the government without formal documentation, early entry certification or land lease, is doing so illegally, Minister Joubert stated.
A substantial proportion of land is yet to be surveyed due to the shortage of surveyors, Minister Joubert clarified. The process to issue lease agreements can also be time-consuming, although the Office of the Attorney General has committed to dedicating additional resources, so as to accelerate this process.
According to the minister, a number of farmers have been issued with an allocation letter, which means that their allocations cannot be deemed as illegal.
Although the practice is not encouraged, in instances whereby individuals are engaging in ‘illegal’ farming on government land, the ministry engages in discussions with the Ministry of Lands and Housing to designate the land as agricultural land. This is not always possible depending on the surrounding community and a number of other factors.
Progress on Comprehensive Agricultural Plan
The Strategic Plan for the agricultural sector has been revised to reflect the realities of modern society, inclusive of the opportunities made possible by partners and which will impact positively on food security, especially following the pandemic.
The review to the Comprehensive Agricultural Plan has reviewed a number of documents relating to the agricultural sector, the production status and state of food security in Seychelles, and government’s ambitions for the sector.
“The vision of the strategy is in line with that of government, to expand the role of the sector and transform it into a national revenue source, which contributes more to the economy,” Minister Joubert stated.
Reducing dependence on importation and generating more foreign exchange from the sector are the main aims.
The four main objectives under the plan are to increase local production, grow the sector’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) contributions towards the economy and other economic factors, improving production capacity to satisfy local demand in case of external shocks and to attain the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) related to agriculture.