Seychelles’ public services workers to get 5 percent raise; new prescription fee to be implemented

Public service workers will see a five percent increase in their basic wages in the third quarter of 2019, the minster of finance announced Monday.

Meanwhile, the government plans to introduce a prescription fee within the public health service.

Those announcements came Monday during the national budget presentation by Maurice Loustau-Lalanne, the Minister of Finance, Trade, Investment and Economic Planning.

Loustau-Lalanne presented the proposed national budget of nearly SCR8.5 billion ($625 million) for 2019 to the National Assembly. This represents an increase of 6.6 percent compared to the 2018 budget.

A sum of SCR42 million ($3 million) has been allocated in the budget to accommodate a five percent increase in the basic wages of public service workers. This will take effect as of July next year.

Other benefits for workers that Loustau-Lalanne announced was that the government will introduce a long service allowance for the public sector non-contract employees from July 2019.

Depending on the number of years in service, a staff will receive between SCR500 to SCR4000 ($37 to $295). The scheme starts once a staff has worked for five years in public institutions and will increase by SCR500 every five years.

Loustau-Lalanne said that SCR3.5 billion ($257 million), which is 41.9 percent of the total budget, has been allocated to the ministries of education, health and family affairs. The minister said that this shows the government's commitment towards access to education and health care.

The Ministry of Education has the biggest allocation of the budget -- SCR1,036,891,000 -- which represents 12.1 percent of the total appropriation bill.

The health sector follows with SCR 1,019,147,000 and Loustau-Lalanne said that for the first time this sector's budget went over 1 billion. He said that as a country we will need to re-think how we continue to sustain such an investment in the future.

Everybody will need to start to take care of their own health. Therefore, the time has come for the government to charge a fee for prescription of only SCR 25 ($1.2), he added. This will be implemented first quarter of next year.

Medicine will still be free of charge and children under 18, full time students, elderly and patient with chronic diseases will be exempted from the prescription fee.

With the government's commitment to ensure that housing is more accessible to its population a total of SCR161.4 million has been provided under the 2019 budget for the different land and housing projects, said Loustau-Lalanne.

The minister added that Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, will have the support of the Indian government to finance the construction of 3,000 houses.

A grant from the Chinese government of SCR102 million will also be used for housing projects.

Tourism is an important sector for Seychelles and the top contributor to its economy. A provision of SCR 91.7 million has been made for the Seychelles Tourism Board, which is responsible for promoting for the tourism sector of Seychelles. The tax collection from the tourism sector represents 31 percent of the total tax collection.

Another important sector -- agriculture � has been allocated SCR 115.9 million. Loustau-Lalanne said the ministry will aggressively promote the use of tropical greenhouses for the production of crops.

Using the greenhouses, farmers in the country will be able to enjoy relatively same production all year round. It is estimated that a greenhouse of 500 square metres will cost SCR200,000, said Loustau-Lalanne.

In order to achieve this objective, the government will need to bring in new technology such as hydroponics and an assessment has already been made to allow for two such technologies. One such facility is presently being installed at the Research Centre at Anse Boileau for research purposes.

To encourage an increase in the workforce for agricultural sector, gainful occupational permit (GOP) fees of SCR500 per month will go down to SCR250 per month.

The 2019 Budget has not make provision for the Seychelles Fisheries Authority (SFA) and the Seychelles National Parks Authority (SNPA). The Public Enterprise Monitoring Commission will have the oversight role on these two entities from January 2019.

The two leaders in the National Assembly will give their reactions to the proposed budget on Thursday.

Source: Seychelles News Agency