President Danny Faure held his third live presidential conference on Thursday evening at State House, where journalists from eleven media houses questioned him on a number of issues.
SNA presents an overview of some of the issues raised.
Government’s plan to ensure constant power supply to La Digue
Faure said that following a fault over a week ago with one of the two undersea cables linking Praslin and La Digue, the second and third most populated islands, the government will be investing in a third undersea cable to prevent the disruption of power supply on La Digue.
This will be funded through the $9 million under the Abu Dhabi fund which was supposed to go towards improving electricity distribution on Mahe. I have asked the minister responsible for finance to inform the Abu Dhabi Fund of this decision, said the President.
Faure said that although two generators are being installed temporarily to ensure there is electricity on the island which is a tourist destination, it was never government’s plan to have these generators on La Digue as they cause noise and air pollution.
Sugar tax, measures on the sale of alcohol and cigarettes
The President said the government will maintain the new measures to control and limit the sale of sugary drinks and the use of alcohol and cigarettes, despite complaints from retailers.
The new measures to tackle alcohol abuse include separating the sale of alcohol from other commodities in shops, taxing alcoholic products as per alcohol content and a moratorium on licences for local production of alcoholic beverages.
Faure explained that Seychelles is a party to WHO (World Health Organisation) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and as such the country has to abide by the convention, which among its measures, limit the sale of single cigarettes.
He added that this will not only prevent minors from having access to cigarettes but helps with the ministry’s drive to address cigarette-related health issues.
On the sugar tax which came into force in April, Faure said, The measure was aimed at tackling obesity among children and the government remains committed to this fight because we see how young people are being affected.
Government’s stance on Assumption following report by Preserve Seychelles
President Faure confirmed that Preserve Seychelles — a new association aimed at protecting the sovereignty of the island nation — has submitted a report to his office following the group’s visit to the islands of Astove and Assumption in July.
I have analysed the report and I welcomed it. However, my views differ from that of Preserve Seychelles to have a coast guard base on Astove instead of Assumption. This is practically impossible because of the island’s environment.
He emphasised government’s plan to have the base on Assumption and said it is hoped that Preserve Seychelles and the whole nation will eventually be on board with the project, which is in the best interest of Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean.
International Business Company, BitMex and allegations of bribery against some local officials
The President confirmed that the Financial Services Authority (FSA) has contacted BitMEX’s lawyer following a statement given by their CEO in a live debate two months ago in Taiwan that his company registered in Seychelles bribed local officials.
Faure who met with the Co-Founder and chief executive of Bitcoin Mercantile Exchange (BitMEX), Arthur Hayes, last December said these comments were unfounded and baseless and that Seychelles was not for sale.
Mr Hayes should not have made such comments, which could be detrimental to the Seychelles’ financial sector. Discussions are ongoing between FSA and BitMEX to resolve the matter and I want to reiterate that I am not for sale and the country is not for sale.
On Monday, BitMEX’ parent company, HDR Global Trading Limited, announced that it had added Seychelles to its list of total trade access restrictions.
White Flag designation Interrupted by fraud allegations
Faure confirmed that Seychelles’ relationship with Ocean Alliance Conservation Member, an international environmental organisation, is a good one and the country will proceed with its plan to work with the organisation once the fraud allegations levelled at its president, Kristijan Curavic are resolved.
Curavic met President Faure last week to discuss plans to have 40 beaches recognised with the White Flag Certification for being clean and plastic-free.
This was put on hold following allegations of fraud involving the state of Malta.
There was no exchange of money between Seychelles and the organisation and three ministers had a meeting with Curavic after the allegations of fraud had surfaced and the government was satisfied with the explanation provided by theOcean Alliance Conservation Member.
He also confirmed that there is due diligence done by his officials prior to any visits by foreign personnel to State House to prevent such eventualities.
Source: Seychelles News Agency