Wednesday, February 24, 2016


Dear Editor,

I refer to your article on page 2 in yesterday’s newspaper and wish to make the following observations.

 As a member of the Seychelles Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) for over a decade, I find it disrespectful to all members that the SCCI Chairman Mr. Marco Francis has gone on record to make several comments in regards to the 13th paycheck or end-of-year bonus that was introduced last year by President James Michel as a populist measure in order to woo the electorate to vote for his party.

Firstly, the SCCI should have consulted with and should have asked the views of all its paid members. According to Mr. Francis, the majority of businesses in the private sector are already giving a 13th month salary and that most of the companies agree with the President’s proposal. Can Mr. Francis please provide the members with the survey that he has done personally, or perhaps one that SCCI has done to prove this? In reality, no such survey was done and therefore, Mr. Francis’ comments do not reflect the views nor the will of its members. Lest we forget, Mr. Francis was an avid supporter of President Michel in the last election and he is once again showing that his allegiance lies not with the SCCI members but with the President instead.

Secondly, Mr. Francis states that “we cannot have two systems whereby one group is having a 13th month salary and a few is (sic) not getting it.” Why not Mr. Francis? If our already bankrupt Government wants to waste more taxpayers money by dishing out election favours in order to win votes, does that mean that the private sector has to bankrupt itself as well?

Thirdly, “we cannot have an unfair system in Seychelles”, Mr. Francis tells us. Has it not occurred to Mr. Francis that we already have an unfair system for housing, for land allocation, for welfare, for jobs, for pensions, for security clearance, for licenses, for GOPs, etc...? All condoned by the same corrupt Government I might add. Therefore, if STC pays out 15 paychecks each year or SPTC gives out 2 bonuses, do we in the private sector have to agree with this madness?

Fourthly, Mr. Francis now wants certain companies who cannot afford to pay the 13th salary or companies in financial difficulties to be exempted. Seriously? Please tell us who will approve or disapprove such exemptions? Or shall we see the creation of another “13th Month Bonus Commission” by the President, which will probably comprise of some familiar board members, with Mr. Francis himself appointed to chair the board?

Fifthly, Mr. Francis contradicts his “unfair” statement by wanting expatriate workers in the construction companies exempted as “this will adversely affect construction businesses in the country”. He also wants to exclude people above managerial positions from receiving a 13th month salary, stating that the proposed 13th month salary “is to help ordinary people and not high earners”. I assume that Mr. Francis considers all management staff as “out of the ordinary” and undeserving of such bonuses. Thus, here we go again in creating an unfair system for workers in our country, all courtesy of a President who by the way has never owned nor managed a private business in his life. He did manage to bankrupt the country as Minister of Finance though, so I guess he now qualifies to bankrupt most businesses in Seychelles as well, all with the assistance and wisdom of Mr. Francis, a man at the helm of SCCI who ironically is supposed to work on behalf of the private sector.

The appalling business decisions taken by President Michel in the run-up to the election and the additional measures announced during his State of the Nation address only serve to underline the weaknesses of this Government, one that can only be seen to be grasping at straws in order to hold on to power. Giving away taxpayers money so frivolously will only serve as a short-term pacifier and while welcomed by many, will come back to bite us all in the medium term as companies curtail investments and cut back on employment in order to keep their heads above water. This country is already bankrupt, courtesy of an inept Government. And whoever coined the term “intellectually spent” prior to the elections when referring to the Government in power should receive one of those fake, honorary degrees. And both Mr. Michel and Mr. Francis are experts in that domain.

 In the end, the 13th month salary would not require a discussion if it had been publicly debated first before any announcement was made. It is clear that this is yet another misconceived idea that will have serious impact on employment in the years to come if it becomes law, and one that could force certain businesses to close down. Simply put, the private sector cannot be made to pay for the folly of James Michel and his irresponsible Government, and Marco Francis should know better than to misrepresent the views of the SCCI members.


Source:Today in Seychelles