- The government of Seychelles has announced that wealth creation by its citizens is the key to re-accelerate economic growth in the country. The 2005 budget outlines tools for ordinary Seychellois citizens to create wealth, including tax reductions and trade liberalisation policies.
New government provisions announced by Seychelles President James Michel earlier this week "will put ordinary citizens on the frontline of the economy," declared Secretary of State Alain Butler-Payette.
Mr Butler-Payette was speaking in an interview at State House, where he also went into greater detail about some of the initiatives the President announced in his budget address to the National Assembly on Tuesday.
The priority for the government, the President said, would be to re-accelerate the economic growth. Many of the new measures - including trades tax reductions, the elimination of import permits and other efforts to liberalise trade - will go into force in January, the government of Seychelles announced in a statement today.
Mr Butler-Payette said the government was giving the population the tools to create wealth, and that it was "up to people themselves to take advantage of them while the government acts as a guide."
- We all have a part in [what was announced for] the budget; every Seychellois must see him or herself in it, the Secretary of State said. He reiterated that the first priority for the government was to "generate confidence in the country's economy."
Reducing the cost of living was said to be another important step in the 2005 budget, which could be eased with the removal of all duties on more than 50 food items, but Mr Butler-Payette said the official list of these items would be presented next week. The cost of living in the Indian Ocean island nation traditionally has been very high.
Meanwhile the trade's tax reductions, not only on food but household items and industry-specific goods, come earlier than expected as President Michel originally announced they would be reduced in 2006, he said. Mr Butler-Payette added that in light of the new measures put in place to spur economic growth, the government felt it could sustain the loss in trade's tax revenue.
When asked about foreign exchange allocation with respect to the elimination of import permits on items for resale, the secretary of state said that President Michel, in consultation with the banks, intends to "put in a more equitable system of distribution," with priority given to the most important needs of the country.
Mr Butler-Payette added that at a time when the country lacked certain essential goods, "we shouldn't import beer when we have a [locally produced] beer that is better than imports."
The Seychellois Secretary of State also revealed more information about President Michel's proposal to make the Central Bank an independent institution, legislation for which should pass through the National Assembly in a matter of weeks. He said the Central Bank would no longer have ties to the Ministry of Finance. "There will be a new governor of the Central Bank," he confirmed.
Sweeping changes in the public sector were also apparent. Mr Butler-Payette said the President had made it "very clear" that changes need to be made. "He expects the public service to work properly," Mr Butler-Payette said of the President, verifying that a major ministry re-shuffle is expected early next year.
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