Keynote Address by President Danny Faure at the Seychelles Consuls Conference 2016
Je voudrais, avant tout, vous dire combien je suis particulièrement heureux de vous recevoir aux Seychelles à l’occasion de cette importante conférence. Votre présence est avant tout le témoignage de l’amitié et de la considération qui prévalent entre les Seychelles et vos pays respectifs. Plus important encore, elle traduit votre dévouement, votre intérêt et la générosité dont vous faites preuve dans l’exercice de vos fonctions. Je veux que vous soyez tous remerciés.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen
On behalf of the people of Seychelles and on my own behalf, I would like to express our gratitude to all our Honorary Consuls and Consuls General who are doing a sterling job at protecting the interests of Seychellois nationals and promoting Seychelles in their respective consular jurisdictions across the globe. Through your active presence you have not only made a difference in the lives of Seychellois nationals and provided greater traction to our country’s foreign policy, but you have, above all, portrayed the real image of the type of society that Seychelles is.
By being there in the hours of need of Seychellois nationals, whether they are residents or visitors, you demonstrate that Seychelles is a caring society which leaves none of its citizens behind, no matter where they may be. Through the consular assistance brought to our fellow citizens, you extend to your respective consular jurisdiction the principle of people-centred development that is the cornerstone of my Government’s domestic policy.
Your role even goes beyond the traditional confines of consuls. From time to time, you are called upon to take on certain diplomatic responsibilities. The limited number of our diplomatic missions, their size and very hectic schedules necessitates that. Through the execution of this secondary function, you have given greater reach to our marketing drive, promoting Seychelles as a well sought-after tourist destination. In doing so, you have contributed your fair share to the success of our economic diplomacy.
Under President Michel, we have seen the reinforcement of our bilateral and multilateral relations, giving rise to tangible and concrete programmes of cooperation. The role and image of Seychelles in the international arena has been enhanced. Our small nation has a strong and respected voice in the concert of nations. Our views are listened to with attention and our contributions more and more solicited.
The results of the presidential and parliamentary elections which have just been held have confirmed the democratic principles of Seychelles; they also usher a new era in our political development.
As I stated last week, all acts of government will be inspired by the three principles of good governance, transparency and accountability whilst we continue to promote sustainable growth and defend the ideals of fairness, equality in opportunity, social justice and distribution of wealth, to continuously raise and maintain hope.
All of it, in order to build a prosperous Seychelles, faithful to the principles that have shaped its image as a Creole country, both democratic, open to the world and rooted in its values, of a country that cultivates and promotes peace.
The actions of the Seychellois diplomacy must, naturally, continue to be part of this dynamic.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
As a small island developing state, our opportunities and challenges are interwoven with that of the rest of the globalised world. Our Foreign Policy is orchestrated in accordance with the unique opportunities and threats our country faces. We are a small group of islands nestled in the Indian Ocean. We are therefore exposed to certain vulnerabilities that we must be able to address and remedy. As a result, our greatest resources should be nurtured and harnessed so that we can utilize them effectively without ever shying away from our sustainability objectives. Sustainability is the bedrock of our livelihood.
It is the bedrock of our future.
Geopolitically, we aspire for global peace, security and equality. We believe these to be the fundamental pillars and backbone of global development. In lieu of this we are determined to see Africa reach its full potential.
Africa is a continent with an abundance of natural resources at its disposal. It is also a continent that is growing significantly in population. Therefore, the challenges and opportunities are very many and unquantifiable. A strong and democratic Africa will take time, but the wheels have been in motion for a while and the signs of progress are undoubtedly promising. With the necessary infrastructure, improved human resource development and the continuation of large scale investment we believe that Africa can thrive; and if Africa thrives, the opportunities are endless.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
The economy is always of fundamental concern when analyzing the current state of a specific country. It needs to be strong and stable and it needs to be able to grow and respond effectively to prospective changes in market conditions. However, it needs to do these things whilst reflecting our ideals of fairness, equality of opportunity, social justice and distribution of wealth.
In certain respects, Seychelles performed undoubtedly well in 2015.
We were reclassified as a high income country by the World Bank, for the first time in our history. We are also the only country to hold this status in Africa for the period. This was achieved against a backdrop of a reduction in the level of our public debt, which is a strong reflection of the sustainability of our growth.
However, there is one aspect where our gains are not as clear-cut and that is with respect to reflecting the ideals of social justice and wealth distribution.
The statistics of the National Bureau of Statistics suggest an uncomfortably high rate of poverty in Seychelles. On the other hand, the World Bank’s analysis expects our poverty rates to remain amongst the lowest in the world outside the OECD. The two sound a bit confusing and unclear.
What is clear though, is that the principle of the distribution of wealth is one that we strongly believe in. We remain committed to people-centred development, and it is of paramount importance that the gains of our national economic growth is felt by all sectors of the population. Especially our Brothers and Sisters in the lowest income decile.
Consequently, in the past twelve months there have been several measures which we have undertaken to address the distribution of wealth. The first was the increase in the retirement pension to address those whose efforts in the past have gotten us this far, and who now count on our efforts to keep them in dignity.The second was to eliminate Personal Income Tax on the lower earners in our society.
Both measures have had a quick and considerable impact on the lives of the poorest in the country.
Nonetheless, we in Government are determined to uplift our citizens who are currently under the poverty line. Through building a society where we continuously strive for equality of opportunity, fairness, distribution of wealth, and social justice we can simultaneously continue our sustainable economic ascent AND narrow the gap in living conditions between the richest and the poorest members of society. That is the challenge I present to Government, and upon which I would like to see increased improvement.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,Further afield, it has been a big year for Seychelles on multi-faceted dimensions. We have just been recognized for Achievements in Advancing the Economic Rights of Women at the AU Kigali Summit in Rwanda. We have moved up to 4th position in the Mo Ibrahim Africa Governance Index, whilst maintaining our number 1 rank for human development. And, we, of course, had the pleasure of welcoming the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon to Seychelles for the first time. Coming to the end of his tenure as United Nations Secretary General, I must say what an honour it was to have him visit our shores. It has also been a year where Seychelles held the Chairmanship for the contact Group for Piracy off the Coast of Somalia. In this respect, our efforts to curb the scourge of piracy have been largely successful.
The initiatives and regional efforts of which we have partaken have ensured that there is reduced threat within our Exclusive Economic Zone rendering maritime traffic of all kinds more viable. The statistics are impressive indeed and we are immensely grateful to those who have contributed to making our seas safer and more desirous to travel through again.
Seychelles also successfully undertook its second cycle under the Universal Periodic Review process of the United Nations in 2016, whereby it accepted 142 out of 150 recommendations received from the international community. This is reflective of Seychelles’ commitment towards the full realization of human rights for all persons, and our continued collaboration with the UN and international community. It also shows our willingness for constructive and yet critical dialogue at the international level.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen
To be a winner in a globalised world order, Seychelles will have to seize opportunities coming its way and take initiatives to advance her own agenda in a win-win context with other countries, regional bodies or international organisations. As foot soldiers of Seychelles Foreign Service, you are duty-bound to scout for these opportunities and advise the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on initiatives it can take. We can achieve that ambitious goal provided we are smart and forward looking.
In line with our goal of making Seychelles a winner in the community of nations, I call for a strengthened partnership between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and our network of Honorary Consuls and Consuls General. With the same goal in mind, I ask the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to further expand the current network of Honorary Consuls to those countries and key cities where we do not yet have any representation.
Let this Conference be an occasion for you to gather fresh information on Seychelles and allow you to share your ideas, exchange views and interact with your Minister and some of his colleagues and senior officials in Government and the private sector. I look forward to reading your recommendations to improve our work for the service of our nation.
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I now have the immense pleasure to declare officially opened this eighth edition of the Seychelles Consuls Conference, and wish you successful deliberations.I thank you!