First Session Of The National Economic Council 12 January 2012 Remarks By President James A Michel

Mon, 16 January 2012

Members of the National Economic Council,

It gives me great pleasure to welcome you all to this first meeting of the new National Economic Council which I appointed on 5th December.  I thank you all for accepting to serve on this Council that will serve to advise Government on future economic policy. It also buttresses this year’s theme of “Striving For Our Seychelles” as it will provide us with an important sense of direction in the work we do for our country.

As you know, the Government of Seychelles embarked on a series of economic reforms that began soon after I assumed office, and which were brought into sharp focus by the world economic crisis of 2008.  At the time we sought the assistance of a number of foreign governments and international organisations, in particular the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, in adopting a programme of financial support that has provided a degree of debt relief and macroeconomic stability so essential to national growth and development.

However, as I speak, the world economy itself is undergoing major upheavals, especially in countries which have been our traditional tourism markets.Seychelles can and should expect turbulent times ahead.

Consequently, in this context and as we approach the end of this first phase of formal collaboration with international financial institutions, I think it is not only appropriate but imperative for my Government to engage with local economic experts and representatives of our major economic institutions and stakeholders in the private sector in defining the way forward.

Whilst I am concerned with developing sound economic policy, I am equally concerned about the impact of economic policy on employment and on social welfare, especially the adverse consequences it can have on the more vulnerable sections of our society.  It has been shown that unbridled neoliberal approaches to economic development tend to widen the gap in incomes, and generally work to the benefit of those who already wield economic power.

It is the priority of my Government to ensure that Seychelles continues on a path of economic growth that fairly benefits all Seychellois.  This is a goal that we must never lose sight of. Our economic cake must not only be bigger, but we must also ensure that it is shared fairly. At the same time, we need to stimulate more business activity and get more Seychellois involved in entrepreneurship. We can do this by making more credit available to them and on easier terms. And in this, the banks have a crucial role to play. I will say so again: the banks have to be proactive and reach out to all entrepreneurs, big and small.

We must also continue to encourage foreign direct investment in our country. It is crucial to stimulating growth in all sectors. As crucial FDI is to our survival in a fiercely competitive and globalized world, we must not neglect investment in our country by Seychellois for Seychellois. We must do everything possible to encourage and promote investment and re-investment by Seychellois entrepreneurs. This includes creating the enabling environment, putting the right policies in place, empowering our entrepreneurs, removing all obstacles and hurdles in their way ¦

Our economic development must always take account of the specificities of our country.The models of large economies or - for that matter - precepts and theories taken from textbooks are not always directly transferable to small island states like ours. We need an economy that reflects our democratic principles of social justice, and not one based on technical considerations alone.  We need an economy that empowers and benefits our people and puts their interests first. My Government will continue to improve the policy framework that will enable all economic actors to feed the engines of productivity and economic growth.

That is the raison d’etre of this National Economic Council.We need to work together, across our organisations, in smarter and more innovative ways that serve the national interest. We need to find innovative solutions to problems we are confronted with. Our national economic direction must be based on our shared experience and on a sound understanding of the underlying principles of fairness and social justice.Seychelles is too small for myriads of little empires, where getting simple things done finally takes just too long and costs too much. We must always put Seychelles first! We must keep on striving for our New Seychelles!

I look forward to hearing your ideas, suggestions and concerns, and those of the various sectors you represent, as well as the proposals you have on the way forward.

Thank you.

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