Thursday, July 31, 2014

A crime against ordinary citizens

This is our first edition for 2014 and we have revisited the salary increment awarded to Constitutional Appointees, the Executives and the Legislators, in the budget for this year. We are of the view that this is a felony against the ordinary man/woman/child and the taxpayers in general. We have produced a chart above to provide our readers with the extent of the criminality against the ordinary citizen. This is clearly an abuse of power by the people who raise their hands to legislate their own salaries and that of their political masters. It is also a bigger crime by those who proposed the increment to the National Assembly – when they above everybody else know the true state of the economy.

 The people’s representatives in the National Assembly accepted what had been put before them by the Executives and gave their approval without any form of consultation with the people who had voted for them. In doing so the Members of the National Assembly broke a fundamental rule of democracy by acting unilaterally without seeking the opinion of the people (electorates) who will have to pay for the increment.

The local economy will not be able to sustain this increment in the long term and it will become a burden on society. The President, Minsters and MNAs are making sure that they are well taken care of when they finally retire. Currently, there are two former presidents, about ten former ministers and at least seventy-five former MNAs who will all partake in this increment. This is a burden on the economy it will put a lot of pressure on the wealth creation sector of the country. It is common knowledge that government does not generate revenue they fund their activities from money collected from the general public, workers and the business community through various taxes; income tax, VAT, trade tax, CSR to name a few.

A close look at the chart above will show you that the salary increment for the President, Ministers and Members of the National Assembly starts at 62.1% and reaches a high of 215.1%. This is in sharp contrast to what has been awarded to the ordinary workers, which starts at 10% and reaches a high of only 20%.

On top of the monthly salary increment the President, Ministers and MNAs will benefit further with an increment on their annual gratuity and end of term bonus. This is so because the yearly bonus is calculated on their salary for twelve month and 25% of that is paid to them as an end of year gratuity. Additionally to the monthly salary and the yearly gratuity they will also collect an end of term gratuity, which is 50% of their total salary over their term of office.

The President will collect an end of term gratuity of 2.8million rupees, the Vice President will get 2.2million rupees, ministers will be awarded 1.6million rupees, an MNA will pocket 936,450.00 rupees (0.9million).

All kinds of arguments have been put forward by government to justify the increment for the Constitutional appointees and the politicians. However, they have failed to convince public opinion that the self awarded increments are reasonable.

Source: Seyweekly

Deception unmasked, the true story behind the Seychelles electoral reform process

Following the boycott of the last parliamentary elections by the main opposition parties, politics in Seychelles had reached a stalemate. President James Michel, humiliated in the eyes of the international community after more than 30% of the electorate had spoilt their ballot papers, promised electoral reforms and vowed to modernise the laws in accordance with best practices. His dilemma was how to get the main opposition parties to participate in the process. He turned to his chief diplomat, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Jean Paul Adam who established informal contacts with the main opposition parties.

Foreign diplomats, namely the former French Ambassador Delacroix and British High Commissioner Forbes added their goodwill to the effort and engaged the political leaders. Initially, the informal meetings were held at the National Library building where several undertakings were given by Minister Jean Paul Adam on behalf of government. The undertakings were straightforward and simple. Parliamentary elections will be held once the reforms are complete and the commitment of government to the process would be total.
As a result of a series of meetings between the foreign diplomats, government and the political leaders, the Electoral Reform Commission (ERC) came into being and started deliberations at the National House. The Electoral Commission received the expert advice of Earl Simpson, the Commonwealth representative who assisted in drafting the recommendations. The first series of recommendations was the Public Assemblies Bill. At the end of the deliberations of the ERC, the Commonwealth representative, in an interview on SBC commented that the set of recommended laws were in accordance with international norms and should be implemented by government without amendment and in case of amendment, it should be returned to the ERC for further discussion.

The photo depicts President James Michel of Seychelles protesting and demonstrating during the Cable and Wireless strike in 1971. The question one must ask; would this type of protest and demonstration be able to take place under the new public order act today?

 All the recommendations received the unanimous approval of all political parties including Parti Lepep represented by Lawyer William Herminie, Mr. Simon Gill and Ralph Agrippine.

 The repealed Public Order Act assented to by the President has come as a blow to the Electoral Reform process; an affront to the international partners and all those who have given the best of themselves to provide Seychelles with the best laws. It is deception of the highest order.


Opposition Parties deplore the Public Order Act

In a press conference held at Arpent Vert recently, the leaders of the SUP (Seselwa United Party) and the SNP (Seychelles National Party) deplored the POA (Public Order Act) in its entirety. Mr. Ralph Volcere and Mr. Wavel Ramkalawan briefed the press on the main reasons they are disappointed at the new piece of legislation. The main objections covered were:

• Change in definitions in the new bill
• The powers given to the Minister of Internal Affairs over the Commissioner of Police
• The power of the Commissioner of Police to prevent an assembly
• The appointment of the Appeals Board by the President
• The new powers of search and confiscation given to the customs, police, NDEA and immigration officers
President James Michel afforded the right to assembly at the 1974 SPUP political rally

The leaders also noted the deception of James Michel as the new POA opposes all the recommendations proposed by the Electoral Reform Commission.

The two leaders will take a case to the Constitutional Court to challenge the constitutionality of the new Act.