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Speech By President Of The Seychelles Chambers Of Commerce, Mr. Oliver Bastienne, Business Summit

Speech By President Of The Seychelles Chambers Of Commerce, Mr. Oliver Bastienne, Business Summit
  Admin   |     09th July 2018

Speech By President Of The Seychelles Chambers Of Commerce, Mr. Oliver Bastienne, Business Summit


Thank you very much. Firstly, I want to thank all you who have attended this summit today. Special mention must go to the team at SIB under the helm of their new CEO Cindy Vidot. Minister Loustau-Lalanne and PS Nalletamby, we thank you for allowing the collaboration with the SCCI. We need your leadership especially in the formulation of key policies and regulations in the investment, economic and fiscal space for us to become that ENGINE of GROWTH.

So it is such a pleasure to be with you at one of the most exciting gatherings of business minds. With this summit, we carry forward a conversation about the role that the private sector can and must play in a healthy, thriving, prosperous, stable society, and how each of us, no matter where we live or who we are, how big or small, can help to spread the principles and the benefits of a thriving private sector to our people. Whilst we do understand that not all the private sector is here today, I believe that the importance of such summit cannot be underestimated and we encourage the Government to keep having these summits and as we grow maybe consolidating the key areas for dynamic intervention and discussions.

The purpose of the summit is to address factual issues and formulate tangible solutions such as:

  • A start up that would like to have to have access to grants to develop their concept and finally have the ability to source affordable financing after incubating their business concept.
  • Artisans that finds the current cost of raw material too expensive, wanting to learn and find new ways to enhance their productivity, better packaging and marketing to depict the authenticity of their goods. We need to promote the Made in Seychelles Brand.
  • Local investors that finds themselves frustrated as they feel that the Registrar is in bad need of modernization and reinforcement of human resources.
  • As mentioned a comprehensive and clearly articulated growth plan for Seychelles is badly needed. It is imperative to work this in somewhere as this should direct/prioritize where we invest locally – key sectorial analysis must be done.
  • We need to look at our financial services industry to ensure that we de-risk our jurisdiction as a safe place to do business which is in the SCCI’s view a national imperative for growth as it drives confidence from the international communities/investors
  • CEO's of large companies find themselves spending too much time handing HR issues due to an Employment Act that badly needs to be reviewed to reflect more fairness to employers. An example, we at the SCCI have a similar sentiment for extending maternity leave, its ok to extend it but then give something back to the business’ which have to fund those extra two weeks, such as a reduction in sick leave from 30 days to 15 days.
  • Apart from the scourge of substance abuse, risky behaviour and poor well-being in the population efforts to get people as a whole to take ownership of their destinies is flagging. Opportunities are abundant but side-lined. The wealth gap is not closing naturally as a result. Using taxation to remedy this is only punishing those who perform and are making the sacrifices. Everyone needs to have a share of the pie BUT not for free.

Whilst there are many amazing success stories and rapidly expanding businesses in Seychelles, for despite all the sweeping changes of the last few decades –- from the reform of taxation policies, the famous 13th MONTH SALARY, to the technological revolutions that continue to shape our economy -– it has been people who have driven our progress. It is individual men and women like you who put their shoulder to the wheel of history and push. Individual men and women who have invested so much into our local economy to create wealth and jobs. Today the SCCI would like to thank you for being the risk taker and we ask you to keep believing and investing into our local economy. Your determination and determination must not be ignored, but celebrated and respected.

So I make a plea to the Government, as you have heard today, let's tear down barriers that slows us down and get in the way of doing business. Let's build up the infrastructure -- the roads, the land, the ports, the electricity -- that connects and facilitate business. Let's create more and sell more and buy more from each other rather than importing everything. Small needs the Big, the Big needs the Small. Let us be bold, innovative, lets don’t take things PERSONAL. IDEAS from the private sector are not meant to be an attack on you Government, they are meant for us to collaboratively work together. We too, we are passionate about our Seychelles.

I agree and I'm confident that we can make certain changes that we have discussed and agreed today and also in the next few weeks. And when we do, we won't just propel the next era of Seychelles growth, we'll create more jobs and opportunity for everybody – for our people.

Today, the vision outlined by our President in his SONA is to make major investments in its infrastructure and creating greater transparency to support growth and entrepreneurship. Going forward, that commitment must be matched by a steady reduction in barriers to trade and invest -– from agriculture to infrastructure, from retail to telecommunications. Because in the new world economy, new growth and jobs flow to countries that lower barriers to trade and invest. We must not leave our Micro, Small and Medium business. We must understand the value chain analysis to ensure that all stakeholders and players are adequately ripping the rewards of the risks that they take. The SCCI believes that everyone should have the opportunity to have a piece of the pie.

What gives me the most confidence about our future is our greatest resource -– the drive and ingenuity of our people: workers and entrepreneurs- students and innovators; including the expatriates that also assist us to bind this wonderful nation. The SCCI supports and welcomes expatriates that believes in our vision and display the right attitude to work alongside us and if needs be let us learn from you. However, our workforce and education system must be enriched with a new surge and vision of skills development that we are in dire need in the private sector. We recognise the work that has been done, but we are still far behind.

I will conclude by pleading to everyone in this room. Government or private sector! A study which was commissioned by the Agency for the Prevention of Drug Abuse and Rehabilitation was conducted to determine the population size of heroin users out of the present population of people aged 15 and over.

The results showed that the population of heroin users in Seychelles aged 15 years and above is around 4,800 which equals to 5.6 percent of the population range. It is worth noting that an average size of family is 3.2, making approximately 15,000 being implicated. This also has a direct impact on the alleviation of poverty for our small country and a detrimental impact on our workforce.

Today the SCCI encourages all business leaders that radical solutions need to be made as soon as possible if the country wants to have a productive future generation. Let’s not only consider our short terms gains but let us look at a much longer term sustainable solution for our small country. To all Private Sector, the Country needs you!!!! LET US HELP ONE ANOTHER. Let us get involve in the rehabilitation of our youth.

So thank you for being part of this exciting adventure that we have launched today with this summit. I’m so pleased that you all were willing to come and maybe take a little bit of a chance on what you were going to find at the other end, to try to figure out what was this really all about and where was it leading, if anywhere. But now it’s up to both the Government and the Private Sector. I think both the GoS and SCCI has realised that we need to take the discussion to our brothers and sisters on La Digue and Praslin and those that were not here, so we must keep working and seek for their input before we submit our first draft to Cabinet in August.

Once more Thank you very much, everybody. Thank you.