Seychelles’ President: Pfizer vaccines to arrive; tourism numbers back to normal
Seychelles will receive a storage facility needed for Pfizer’s version of the COVID-19 vaccine on Saturday in time for a consignment soon to arrive in the country, President Wavel Ramkalawan said in his third live news conference.
Ramkalawan told media representatives on Thursday that the country is recording some success with the continued downward trend of the COVID-19 numbers.
“We are no longer on some countries’ red list and I am appealing to members of the public to continue to take precautions to keep ourselves safe from the virus,” he said.
Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, along with other African countries is set to receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine through a donation from the United States under the COVAX programme.
The President said that the Seychelles’ economy is getting back on track with the number of visitors back to what it was in 2019.
“Tourism numbers have more or less reached that of 2019 when we set a record with the number of visitors who had come to our shores,” he said.
Seychelles reopened its borders in March to relaunch the tourism industry, the top pillar of its economy, and Ramkalawan said that this was a good decision.
On the issue of cost of living, the President said this is going down due to the efforts of the Seychelles Trading Company’s (STC) new board.
“Since February to the present day, STC has managed to save around SCR20 million ($1.3million) due to the way it is being run,” he said.
“I am happy to see that the country is moving in the right direction. It was a difficult situation when we took office and it is still difficult, but I am satisfied that over the last two days the dollar has gone down to less than SCR16,” said Ramkalawan.
On the subject of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) assisting Seychelles in its economic reform, Ramkalawan said that this shows that the organisation trusts the way the country is running its finances. This resulted in the approval of the $105 million under the Extended Fund Facility.
“We are hoping that the money will be there as a reserve and as we continue to strengthen the economy, we will not need to use the funds to pay certain expenses,” he said.
IMF has already made the first disbursement of the fund which will go towards the financing of the government budget.
On whether Air Seychelles features in the reform plan with the IMF, the President said that one of the conditions is that none of the funding is given to the Seychelles’ national carrier.
He said that a committee has been set up to evaluate the Air Seychelles situation but affirmed that “no one’s salary will be cut and no one will lose their jobs, IMF is only asking that the government exercise discipline in its spending.”
The President also said that there are currently foreign investors who have shown an interest to invest in which is a sign of trust from the international community.
Ramkalawan also talked about his administration’s battle against drugs.
“We are not doing a public relations exercise, we are serious. When the Coast Guards leave the port and seize over SCR20 million ($1.3million) worth of drugs, this shows that we are serious,” he said.
On the issue of corruption, he said that the Anti Corruption Commission is working to bring cases to court, as more effort is being done to tackle the issue.
“There are certain procedures that have to be done, but I can guarantee that there are cases that have already been brought to the Attorney General’s office,” he added.