Tuesday, December 30, 2014


Opposition supporters converged on the normally sleepy Seychelles' capital, Victoria to make their voices heard against the Michel Administration's decision to hike taxes on vehicles, road tax, alcohol and cigarette amongst others. Protestors say the burden of taxes are too much, that the Government is punishing middle income earners but that the increase will spiral the cost of living domestically.

One of the protestors John Servina who is a truck driver expressed his concerns regarding the increase in taxes especially the 67% increase in road tax. "Next year, I will have to increase the fees that I charge for my trips and pass on the taxes to the consumers," he said.

“Today marks the beginning of our political involvement. We’ve been quiet for the past three years but we intend to start mobilizing at district and national levels. We are back at the forefront!”, the leader of the Seychelles National Party (SNP), Wavel Ramkalawan, stated  after his party’s demonstration against this year’s budget speech yesterday.

The objective of the peaceful march, which saw the participation of more than 100 people yesterday afternoon, was to denounce the increase in a raft of vehicle-related taxes introduced earlier this month. Mr Ramkalawan announced that this event was the first in a series of activities his party intends to conduct next year. In January, the SNP will pronounce itself on whether or not it plans to take part in the next presidential elections. But if yesterday’s declarations are anything to go by, it appears likely that the party will contest the 2016 electoral joust.

Despite having granted permission to the SNP to conduct its demonstration in Victoria, the police offered no traffic management support to the marchers brandishing placards with messages like “Too many taxes in Seychelles”, “Reduce transport taxes” and “Stop making Creoles suffer”. This did not appear to faze them in the least however and the march proceeded in an orderly fashion from its starting point at the Stad Popiler car park, past the Victoria Clock Tower and Central Police Station before veering right towards the Immaculate Conception cathedral, then past Camion Hall and back to the car park. The demonstration drew smiles and comments from onlookers who captured the event on their mobile phones.

As Mr Ramkalawan explained at the outset, the march wasn’t solely for the benefit for those who will be handicapped by the rising cost of purchasing and owning a vehicle. Indeed, higher transport costs will doubtless be passed onto consumers who are already suffering from the depreciation of the rupee and attendant inflation.”We’re not just defending vehicle owners. These transport taxes will trickle down. The cost of living will increase. The people of Seychelles as a whole will feel this increases”, the SNP leader railed. He denounced the wastage of public funds which, he believes, is at least partly responsible for the introduction of these new fiscal measures. “It’s not because we own vehicles that we have to pay for bad planning!”, he declaimed.

 At the end of the march, his speech took on a more political dimension. “When we look at the direction the country is going, each of us should become leaders. If we all stand up for what we believe in, things will change. It’s not just about a new government; what’s more important is that whole population is treated with dignity and respect. There shouldn’t be the need to satisfy politicians for one to get ahead in life”, he boomed before warning that Seychellois run the risk of becoming second class citizens in their own country. “Next year the message will come out. We will go all out starting in January”, he announced. Among the issues the SNP will address in 2015 are pensions and social security disbursements, which Mr Ramkalawan deems inadequate in the face of the rising cost of living.