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Vice-President Meriton represents Seychelles at Commonwealth Covid-19 Virtual Meeting

24 June 2020 | Foreign Affairs

The Vice-President of the Republic, Mr Vincent Meriton, in his capacity as the Minister for Foreign Affairs, represented Seychelles during the Commonwealth COVID-19 Virtual Meeting which was chaired by President Danny Faure earlier this afternoon. 

During his address, Vice-President Meriton shared Seychelles’ perspective vis-à-vis COVID-19 and urged fellow member states to act in solidarity to respond to the pandemic and its adverse economic impacts, taking careful note of the impact on the more vulnerable countries.

“The global crisis has induced a significant decline in our tourism-based economy with a substantial increase in unemployment, a drastic drop in the value of our currency and an estimated contraction of our economy by negative 10.8%.  This is the case in 2020, but it is clear that it will take several years for our economy to recover and many more years before we reach the levels of pre-COVID-19,” said Vice-President Meriton speaking about the economic impact on Seychelles.

During his intervention, Vice-President Meriton also shared how Seychelles is adapting to the ‘New Normal’. “Our country yesterday announced its tourism and travel economic recovery strategy following broad and inclusive national stakeholder consultations.  Commercial passenger flights will resume from 1stAugust.  Countries will be classified as low, medium and high risk and health conditions applicable to passengers will vary according to these categories.

All countries are deciding on how best to open up to international travel and tourism.  It is critical that the world agrees on a harmonized set of standards that all must follow, similar to what happened after 9/11.   The Commonwealth should call upon international travel organizations like ICAO, IATA and the UNWTO to agree with the WHO on universal health standards to be used by all international airports and international airlines,” said the Vice-President.

He also touched on the urgent need for concessionary financing, explaining that Seychelles is unable to access international development aid given its high GDP per capita. “Seychelles cannot access international development aid, including loans at preferential rates to fund our post-COVID-19 recovery and adaptation efforts.  We are in dire need of fiscal space. This pandemic highlights the arguments which SIDS have been making for several decades on the inappropriateness of GDP per capita to determine eligibility for Official Development Assistance,” said Vice-President Meriton. He urged the Commonwealth to call on the G20 and multilateral institutions to recognise and integrate a vulnerability resilience index into aid packages.

The Vice-President also touched on the importance of promoting tolerance and social cohesion, noting Seychelles’ diverse heritage and its enshrinement in the Constitution, adding that “we remain conscious that the fight against racism and other forms of discrimination is not achieved by proclamations and words alone.”

The Vice-President ended by congratulating the Secretary General Rt Hon. Patricia Scotland for convening the virtual meeting and working hard to ensure the Commonwealth continues to support its members.

Vice-President Meriton was speaking on behalf of Seychelles alongside 45 other member state nations.

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