Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Seychelles Column - By Christopher Gill

Michel Takes To The Districts To Save Himself

Recently, President James Michel took clown and pony show from Abu Dhabi and the Dubai shopping malls and moved the parade of horribles to the districts. Surrounded with uzzy holstered body guards wearing sun glasses in the dark, and all the ministers available and in country, plus an entourage of advisors of bad advise, and no advise, Michel made his way to Pointe Larue, the traditional  SPPF stronghold which has garnished 64% plus votes in past elections.

After 45 minutes, it was clear, for all Seychellois, that aside from the senior citizens on crutches in the front row, the populace, of Point Larue, were not very amused with the promises of riches in 2006 and the gift of poverty being bestowed on them in 2008- 2009, by President James Michel, the man who feels for all our pain, in spite, of being, the man himself responsible, for inflicting our pain upon us.

Let us break down the main lies as Mr. Franke of Point Larue challenged Mr. President and our dear leader ran for cover under the arm pits of Cuban trained Minister Danny Faure. Cuba you will recall teaches its pupils in political Science, to lie to your death or until the Revolution dies. 

The minor lies, we leave to the People of Seychelles to handle as they try to catch Jack Joker Liar at his game.

Mr. Franke is frank!

As Mr. Franke of Pointe Larue challenged Mr. President to account for the $2.4 Billion missing in our accounts, as disclosed by IMF to Seychelles, Mr. Michel cowardly evaded the question and told Danny Faure to “play it again Minister” as he did in December to trick the SNP MNA’s into believing that money is not missing.

Under instruction from the man at State House, Mr. Faure said again, in a very arrogant tone of defiance becoming only of a Communist trained in Cuba, that the $2.4 Billion IMF has alluded to, is in fact money held by offshore companies.

Mr. Franke was denied a follow up question of clarification as traditional in free democratic states. Instead, State Security officials with wires in their ears, sun glasses covering their eyes, slowly made their way to Mr. Franke, should he ask for a floor again. Had Mr. Franke been allowed one more pertinent question, JJ Spirit, for all of Pointe Laure, and for all of Seychelles, would be finished.

The question Mr. Franke had to pose was along these lines below and it is damning on the SPPF regime.

Question Time For Spiritless Spirit

Of course Mr. Faure and Mr. President, we know the $2.4Billion is held by offshore companies. Former dictators and their cronies like perhaps, maybe, France Albert Rene and company do not usually hide stolen money from the people, in their own private accounts in their names. Dictators and cronies use offshore companies to hide this wealth stolen from the People. To keep it on shore, would lead the People to notice it everyday, when they go to work, like for instance, all the buildings on Providence highway, belonging to cronies and lovies.

Dictators and cronies use numbered accounts to secure and transfer wealth offshore. In Seychelles, only Nouvobanq has numbered accounts registered with the Central Bank of Seychelles. Mr. Laporte, has easy access to that information.

Nouvobanq happens to be Standard Chartered Bank, the largest bank in Africa, but it is also Government of Seychelles, SPPF controlled through majority shareholdings. Mr. Saeed the Managing Director, works for his shareholders, the SPPF Government, and even accompanies Michel on trips to the Arab world (or maybe underworld)!

What IMF said is correct Mr. Faure, SPPF Finance Minister, that is, that these companies offshore, that hold these funds, are owned by bona fide Seychellois Citizens.  Consequently, we want Mr. Faure, to ask IMF to publish the list of those companies in order that we can proceed to execute on ill–gotten funds, if they do exist, to the amount, of $2.4 Billion held in overseas accounts (which are mostly investment accounts and not bank accounts), as per the implication of IMF’s statements.

We can cross check this list with the information Mr. Pierre Laporte has on the total amount of numbered accounts held at Nouvobanq, aka Standard Charter Bank, created while Mr. Francis Chang Leng was Governor of the Central Bank.  Surely there are records of foreign exchange transfers from Nouvobanq or CBS, unless of course those huge shredders that were brought in a few years back have been working overtime!  OR maybe there will be a mysterious fire soon to destroy all evidence!

The list and subsequent transactions will show where much of the $2.4 Billion has gone and tally with IMF declarations. We will have helped Mr. Faure, help himself and at the same time, help poor, pitiful Mr. President.

Faure Says Offshore Is Not Seychelles

Faure says monies offshore is not in Seychelles. He seems to want the People of Seychelles to forget about the $2.4 Billion IMF declaration of missing funds. He and SPPF aspire, and dream, to have the Opposition beaten to death mentally, over just the mentioning of this amount in Public.

President Michel, a man that cannot even ride a horse, or likely, drive a car on his own, says the $ 2.4 Billion missing from our coffers is the horse of battle for the Opposition. It is not. It is our money you arrogant SPPF failure, that can only claim to be educated when you are surrounded by men with AK-47’s to protect you when making false speeches in public.

People of Seychelles can be forgiving about many things. But when it concerns the People’s money, there is no compromise and no pardon, SPPF. So resolve to give back the money and stop firing people in Government because they tell you to do that.

Remember The Mango Lesson

When a thief is holding your mango in his hands, remember well, he will tell you, the mango was broken off the tree by himself, he will have you believe because he took the mango, it now belongs to him. Now SPPF want us to believe, that because the corrupt took this $ 2.4 Billion belonging to the People of Seychelles, it belongs to them now.

Do not be fooled by a thief! We need this money to help us through a period of great hardship, which SPPF has dragged us into since they drove Seychelles into financial bankruptcy well before we ever heard anything about a world financial crisis.

Now, as time goes by, the days become weeks, the weeks become months, SPPF will have us believe that the world financial crisis is the cause of our problems in Seychelles today. Do not be fooled.

The only thing that the world financial crisis brought to Seychelles is one fact: SPPF will now have to repay all its debts. Because they have fooled us before, we will pay the price for failure as long as SPPF is around. When we rid Seychelles of SPPF, much of our debts will be forgiven and even pardoned; we will be able to live as a decent People, gifted, with a most special place by God, on Earth.

As the next District meeting gest underway, People of Seychelles, gather your courage like Mr. Franke and tell it like it is.

Mr. Payet Calls For True Unity

At Point Larue, Mr. Payet bravely, with great courage of a true Seychellois, cut through Mr. President’s charades and challenged him to cause to be resolved, as a Nation, the atrocities committed by James Michel and Albert Rene regimes, during the one party state. Mr. Payet, made a call for a Commission on National Reconciliation to be formed, to hear and bear witness of wrongs committed against fellow citizens to help the Country heal a wound that SPPF wants to believe does not exist. Being indecisive and wiggly for fear of offending France Albert Rene, and murderers that still walk our streets, James Michel said the suggestion can be placed before a Committee.

People of Seychelles, in this moment of despair, how many issues will be placed before how many Committees. We live in an era, wherein we require leadership, true leadership, to navigate through the disaster upon us. Michel proposes that Committees handle even basic and simple but important ideas. He has none of his own.  He goes to the Districts and converts frustrations into ideas, and then sends the idea to a Committee. To lead a Committee he needs Irishmen and South Africans. Michel has taken Seychellois pride and competence and reduced it to a basket of in-competency.

How many more years can we survive with this kind of putzy, in-competent, leadership? In no time, we will need a Committee to decide when we can use the comfort room, when we can use electricity, when we can fill up our gas tanks. We will need three (3) stamps and two (2) seals to buy one (1) packet of 6kg Pampers for our young babies. We will need a Committee to approve use of S-26 infant formula, since it is better then the donkey’s milk products from China they want us to use to feed our babies with.

I salute Mr. Payet for his great courage to face an armed putzy, incompetent leader and to ask for the formation of a Commission of National Reconciliation and in not so many words, to put an end to the June 5th misery and charade. But Mr. Payet should have also asked for a committee to pour water for the Commission as well, and one to approve of the water pouring for dry seasons, since the idea of $25 Million for desalination plants has not worked out too well. But the commission money has been banked.

May God Bless All Freedom Loving Seychellois and our beloved Seychelles!

Contact writer: sezfree4u@yahoo.com

Where is the truth On Public Land Management in Seychelles

There seems to be something that is not right with Public Land Management in Seychelles.

Take these reports by the Nation of 31.03.09 regarding land at Grand Anse Mahe, Beau Vallon and Desroches Island.

At Grand Anse Mahe, a 20Ha state (public) property by the coast with some 700m sea front running more or less parallel with the west coat road from the La Misere Junction, at a varying width from 140 to 400m (for the purists, this area is centered at 4°40’39”S 55°27’00”E) was slotted for private tourism development.

Much of that property is taken up by some streams and their combined marshy estuary. For as long as I can remember, and that covers a span from the 1980s to date, the rest of the property has, over the years, seen some cultivation under the management of the public Agricultural Development Agencies, often more haphazard and experimental than a serious long-term goal in the quest of food security. For the better part of the last 10-odd years, the whole property was left more or less idle.

Somewhere in the labyrinth of the Seychelles’ Pubic Land Management machinery, somebody must have succumbed to the promise of converting yet another swath of apparently useless, and certainly unused, land into ready money and, in the process, hand over to foreigners, another part our national territory and heritage.

In all similar past conversions and transfers, there was never any consultation with the local population and district authorities. Both had little to say, in how state (public) land was managed, other than to rubber stamp the decision handed down from up or to swallow one’s indignation and frustration at being reduced to mere powerless spectators as our heritage is sometimes squandered.

One is therefore somewhat amused to read that the Government of Seychelles, on the merit of “very strong objections from the district’s authorities and some of the inhabitants,” is back-tracking on its decision to turn this property into tourism development. 
If there is any truth in that, then one can take comfort that maybe from hereon, our voices can be heard, if we all call out loudly together. Maybe, from hereon, we may just have a chance to slow and eventually stop the process, which could otherwise risks us being turfed out as foreigners in and on our own land!

It takes a hefty dose of courage for one not used to being humble to come forward and, to all practical purposes, admit to clumsy handling of public property. But was this really the case? Let me not be too naïve. 

We do not seem to have a Land Use Plan, as required by law, to determine the breath and scope of development in given areas. “Acceptance by the people” is not something that JJ just came up with! It’s been there as a requirement since Independence and always ignored. (Not surprisingly, the Minister responsible for Land Development seems to be completely ignorant of the Town and Country Planning Act, 1975 which does not grant, in the matter of publication / consultation with regard to LUP, the leeway ‘ if necessary the population as well’ )
At best we have only aborted attempts to Land Use Plans (1986,….) and some nice glossy displays that are merely wall decorations for some public land offices.

Did the Seychelles ‘Government not take into consideration that it “should not stop agricultural development when food security is an issue and that the land should be kept for agriculture rather than using it for tourism” before it even gave consideration to the proposal for tourism development project on the property? That would have been the time for “consultation” with the local population and district authorities! (Forget the EIA. Most often than not, it is prepared by the promoters.)
The horse would have been right there in front of the cart!

Considering all this, one is more tempted to believe that we are not being given all the reasons for the back-tracking. I would speculate that local (district) objections could be merely a convenient excuse behind which to hide either, or a combination of, awareness of some over-reaching, final hedging of the promoters or delicately sensitive financing that came to light.

And why do I feel uneasy about that prestigious Beau Vallon site!

That’s a chunk of land (centered approx. 4°36’42” S 55°25’50”E) with roughly 300m sea frontage and an inland depth of some 300m reaching beyond the river and new road, with one or two enclaved plots, off the current public parkings.

It’s been going back and forth since the mid 1990s after its previous ‘Acquisition in the Public Interest’. In the mid 1990s, a German promoter had a mega-tourism development project for the area. The Beau Vallon road was even diverted to accommodate the project.
20 years later, the area is still undeveloped. And we hear that the property has changed hands from one foreigner to another? Could this be one of those more than obvious versions of how to clean up some difficult-to-explain money!

What of Desroches Island ?

For those who may have forgotten, Desroches is a 6km long by widest 1km finger of coral island with a pristine perimeter of fine, white sandy beach lying on a SW/NE angle SW of Mahé. (centered, approx. 5°41’22”S and 53°40’23”E)
It emerged from its lack-lustre days as a guano, copra and agricultural crops island of the pre-independence years to the exclusive retreat of the priviledged few after the 1977 coup and a tourist resort under the management of the IDC from the late 1980s.
According to the nation article, the island now has a population of 13 IDC staff (I presume nationals) and 250-275 foreigners.

Was it really necessary to have 4 Cabinet Ministers and 2 Chief Executives with a haggle of other Public Service officials, travel 230kms to query “availability of employment for Seychellois workers, efforts to conserve the environment, opportunities for school children to visit the island and the impact of the different projects”?
That the IDC wants to embark on a publicity stunt, that’s its business. But to recruit our Public Service as extras takes the biscuit! Our honourable MNAs should do well to maintain a certain dignity and not be used as the next props.
I also hope public funding will not be required to provide school and health infrastructure for the largely foreign population working for an essentially private enterprise.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Seychelles Comedy - State House Anytime Now - Secretary of State Fired

Secretary of State (SOS) Fired…Behind the scenes reality & the final showdown.

Things have been heating up to boiling point as the infighting in the Michel regime hits closer to home. The united face of State House is now being exposed and JenPa who is being pushed forward as the shooting star of the apparatchik is determined to see off Orderly in this power struggle. As PS (Posterior Shooter) he will not allow this boozer loser to insult his family and denigrate his boss who is prepping him up for a starring role in his admin. S.O.S the final showdown...

JenPA conveniently early at the office to plot the lynching of Orderly: Good morning Mr. President. I could hardly get a shut eye last night as I was tapping into all my intellectual penetration of a peach fuzz chick to come up with one of the most accomplished works to date at State House – your letter of acceptance of Orderly’s ‘resignation’ Sir. We have again stage-managed the affair very well and details will be available in our next newsletter.

President: Good Morning JP! Good work indeed. I am about to lose my right hand but I can see that we are from the reptile stock. Not only can we be chameleons, we can also be lizards. Another right hand will grow from that stump and it will be business as usual right?

JenPA: Yes Sir. You now have a newer generation of dedicated puffs and water pourers between “PooPoo” and me. We will never spend precious time courting the ladies and downing bottle loads of whiskey (although I have a bit of a fetish for my beer bottle). We remain focussed on the tasks at hand. We are here to serve you. We have all the right connections to ensure that you maintain the right presidential high-flying lifestyle. You can count on us! We will NEVER spill the beans...!

President (consulting his CCTV monitor): He is now in his office so call him in and we will get this over and done with. I like this young attitude of yours. Full of sparkling, whirling energy!

Orderly is summoned. He gulps his cup of coffee and gazes out the window to take in his final vista of those beautiful State House grounds - The stage for so many events during his torrid tenure as S.O.S to the lamest President in our small country’s history. History will judge him accordingly as he has devoted more than a quarter century of his life to prepping up this socialist regime. His studies in Yugoslavia are proof enough that he is a revolutionary at heart. He decides to adopt a Che Guevara (hero) approach as he takes them on with dignity.

Orderly: Good morning Comrades! All good things have to come to an end! My colourful tenure in this majestic abode is now over and I have some exciting prospects to look forward to.

President: It is with profound sadness that you will no longer hold my hand to guide me through the storms ahead Orderly. But you have been the lynchpin of several controversial conspiracies that have unfortunately caught up with you.

JenPA: I have prepared your letter to formalise your ‘resignation’. Sans rancune mon ami! But take this as a lesson. It is a bad practice to shit on your own doorstep. You are prone to some very erratic behaviour when the Irish whiskey goes to the head (which is now a permanent trait in you). You need help my friend. Take a permanent vacation and go look after this wiry body and replenish these dying brain cells. All your dues and compensation has been provided for in forex. The golden handshake treatment is in order.

Orderly: It sounds like a page of the scenario straight from Madagascar. This amounts to a Coup d’Etat from a young upstart with no experience. The international community will not view this in a good light and I intend to take my case to the likes of SADC and COMESA...

President: You are a well intentioned man, but you will go quietly like ChangLeng did. I am indebted to you for having nurtured the right diplomatic culture within this Presidency. You have set the right standards for our younger generation to follow. You have been a master at organizing the Presidential visits abroad (especially with the choice of high class call girls). But JP has proven to be a more trustworthy genius. He always covers up and keeps his mouth shut. You have been singing to too many people and exposing my weaknesses to the likes of Ogilvy. You were promoted to be my S.O.S as a reward for keeping these secrets under wraps. But you have betrayed me Orderly.

JenPA: You have been shooting your mouth too much my man! You were conniving with Sosis at Central Bank to let him off the hook and now he is on the loose. We know all the scams that you have been up to. He has rewarded you with a seat on the IOT board and you are now earning a nice fat forex package. We consider you as a key scammer in this whole Lehman Brothers fiasco for all your cover up of Chang-Leng and misinforming the President all along. You are the one who put the word atheist out. And the label has stuck. Your drinking problem has gotten the better of you. You are no longer able to manage the agenda of the busiest man of these beautiful islands and you made a ‘manze koson’ out of one of the most important State of the Nation addresses in our country’s history!

President: You also overstepped your boundaries Orderly! You cannot take on old boss and the SPPF party as long as Danny Boy and Co is still around. You played with fire my man! Indeed we are engulfed in corruption but you took it on too seriously. We are masters at paying lip service to all these accusations. Up to now, we had put on the right front.

JenPA: And you should learn once and for all that you do not take on the powerful Adam and Savy clan. The tankers and Seypec are indeed linked to the Corvina group, Lemuria, Ephelia, Praslin Express, Land Marine, Mahe Shipping, Big Tankers, Small Tankers and even 7-Degrees South. But we should let the people believe that they are only rumours. You see what I mean by shitting on your own doorstep my man? Your wifey enjoys the comforts of this set up but your drunkenness blinded you on that one...

Orderly: But guys, what happened to our mission of promoting a clean administration? ‘Judge me by my action’ was our motto when we entered State House. We wanted to rid this system of all the corruption, abuse and sleaze. I wanted to take Danny Boy to task so that we could make headway but it seems that you are all swimming in this same broth. As for the Adams, Captain will sink the country with this horde of tankers while his pockets burst with all these fancy hotel projects with his Mauritians golfing friends. Enough is enough the people out there are saying. I will have to follow my conscience my good friends. Corruption is the root of all evil and I will not be part of this charade.

President: Not so fast Orderly. We have proof that you took $ 150,000 to get a passport for one foreigner. Our telephone bugging confirms that you were also on to some murky deals. You are as red hot as we are. We know of your connections with Wavel. It is thanks to you that we could not catch him out this time around. We wanted to call your bluff by having an inflatable lookalike at Anse Etoile but decided on the empty chair scenario instead.

JenPA: So my dear Alain. We share your grief and disillusionment at this unfortunate turn of events. I am now being called upon to step into your shoes and I intend to execute my duties in the most tight-butted and tight-lipped fashion to save this Presidency!

Orderly (reduced to tears but maintaining his philosophical persona & composure): Mr. President Sir! I wish your disintegrating administration all the courage and vision for your final descent into the abyss. I will take up my new job as silent advisor to my old Seyco school pal Wavel to feed his appetite with all the juicy morsels that your clique has spitted out during my tenure at this beautiful abode. I am leaving behind a bevy of broken hearts that will bleed until the ultimate reckoning. As for you my dear upstart JP, your time has come indeed. I can see a bright future ahead of you – the shooting star!! As you shoot from behind, you will probably assume the new Orderly role. But those tight pants and shirts to show off your swimmer body will attract a new breed of fairy tails to take this State House and our embittered President into a new galaxy of lies and deceit. You will spin until your butt will be out of yarn...then your turn will come to.  Remember that Albert Rene did the same thing.  He used everyone around him, made them do illegal things, and then threw them out knowing that he had enough on them that they would keep their mouths shut forever.  So bide my wise words, your time will come sooner than later.  And Mr. President, remember that you are the only left of ex-President Rene’s old stock.  Just remember that too when it all falls apart.  As Daniel Belle said in his song: “ADIEU”.

Orderly begs his final painful leave, his breath on fire from the last half-bottle of Irish whiskey (lovely gift from his sister) that he downed before the final confrontation. He had sensed all along that JenPa would be a traitor. He had the famous scenes of ‘Julius Ceaser’ play out in his head the whole night... ‘E tu Brute’ he thought of JenPa’s betrayal... ‘Then falls Orderly with the knife stuck in his back…’.


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Seychelles Secretary of State Alain Butler-Payette resigns


Retirement from government service


Wed, 25 Mar 2009 12:47:44 +0400


Alain Butler-Payette

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

I have today submitted my resignation as Secretary of State to President James Michel. He has graciously accepted it.

After twenty-five years in the public service, I feel that it is time to move on to other challenges.

As I leave office, I wish to express my profound gratitude to the President for his unfailing support and for the trust he has placed in me. Similarly, I wish to express to you all my grateful thanks for the support and cooperation you have afforded me throughout all the years we have worked together for the common cause and for the good of the nation.  

Rest assured of my support in the challenging tasks which lie ahead.

Yours sincerely and with warmest regards,

Alain Butler-Payette

Somali Pirates, Seychelles Area, Redux

Three more piracy attempts to the southeast of Somalia, far out to sea. None succeeded, but once again the pirates that are getting in the plausible attempts are doing so about 500 nautical miles (900+ km) off the coast... well over halfway from mainland Africa to the Seychelles...
Hm, have not we heard something of this before?
Here is the fact sheet from the U.S. State Department's website about the Seychelles. Defense and Coast Guard capabilities are, well, limited:

In 2002, Seychelles had a defense force (Seychelles People's Defense Forces) of about 800 army personnel, including 300 in the presidential protection unit. The army has one infantry battalion and two artillery elements. Paramilitary forces include a national guard consisting of 1,000 people and a coast guard estimated at 250 and divided into two divisions, the naval wing and security or infantry division. 

The Seychelles Coast Guard (SCG), which was created in 1992, assumes many of the maritime roles commonly associated with the U.S. Coast Guard. They recently acquired responsibility for search and rescue for vessel incidents as well as environmental protection from the Port and Marine Services Division. SCG has several operational vessels: the Russian-built Fortune, the Italian-built Andromache, the Scorpio, two Indian manufactured vessels, four Motor Life Boats, and the luxury yacht Gemini that also is used as the presidential yacht. 

The air wing of the defense force separated from the coast guard in 1997 and does not have any dedicated aircraft, but it sometimes supplies pilots and aircrews to fly search and rescue missions. Their primary duty is to train pilots. The Island Development Corporation (IDC) maintains the pool of aircraft, using them for sources of income by chartering them out. The aircraft inventory includes one Caravan F-406, one Defender, one Cessna 150, and one Beech 1900.

Not much there to try to find a pirate mothership (or two, or more) slipping into Seychelles waters, far from the massive patrols of the world's Naval Forces working off Puntland and in the Gulf of Aden.
Might be worth doing a bit of looking around there, or to help the Seychelles government do the looking.


Monday, March 23, 2009

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Seychelles Satire - State House Anytime Now

Seychelles Comedy at State House

Of high profile dialogues and district meetings…

As the economic situation worsens, the President’s last ditch effort to bring Ramkalawan to the slaughter house has failed. He now has to make do with Mrs. Pot-Her who has brought back a magic potion from the UK but there is no one to administer it to! Orderly and JenPa are now busy planning the populist district meetings. The high level talks have become a farce; as it is now no more than SPPF talking to itself… until they are ‘green in the face’! With another Afif in the picture (these Gollums are everywhere these days), it is more like sleepwalking around the Quéau de Quincy’s tomb…

JenPA & Orderly (in unison): Good morning to you Sir!

President: Good Morning boys! You can see the disappointment on my face can’t you? I am so saddened that Ramka turned down our offer to have a chat this time around. Now I am in the embarrassing situation of having to engage in a party monologue with Marie Lou - the boss’s spokesgirlie.  I really feel like a total IDIOT!

JenPA: Sir, we wanted this to be one-on-one and this is what we got. If we added another one in the mix it would have been two on one or one on two – ‘un vrai ménage a trois!’ Not a very pleasant threesome if you ask me!

Orderly: Sir, ‘once bitten, twice shy’! The last time around we stuffed words in the guy’s mouth to try and look good. But I can understand the man. When we were at Seychelles College he did not like taking things lying down. After all, he is a former Prefect, the Scott House Captain and a Squash Champion, so we have to be very careful of his moves. The man has a grip like the Terminator Arnold Schwarzenegger.  He is out to tire you with his backhand! 

President: I was so looking forward to have him around so that we could at least figure out what he is thinking and hopefully try and come up with a strategy for 2011. But the man has decided to become a mystery and has already named his shadow cabinet which is giving me the goose bumps. At least we are trying to bridge the divide through our State House newsletter…

JenPA: Thank you Sir. It is indeed my brainchild but I am putting this down as a team effort.

President: My compliments for this great initiative boys! We need to communicate on all fronts. Now that Weekly is out of the picture, we need to step up our offensive. The only voice that is still against us is Regar and we need to make a move to annihilate them.  Maybe one or two lawsuits would do it. We still control the media and we must never let go.  Remember boys, the motto is SPPF Broadcasting Corporation.  SBC Radio, SBC TV, Nation newspaper and our own editor Sila who writes like you JenPa, and even Ramaduck and Percy Ahman with the Rising Sun is in our pocket. Gran Golan was right on this one. Control the media and you control the people’s brains.

JenPA: Sir we are progressing very well with the arrangements for the district meetings. But it seems that we will not have many sympathisers from the red camp this time round. They have all turned green with anger over the hardships and the proposal to invite the MNA’s along might backfire. Our own MNA’s are adopting a Pontius Pilate attitude. We expect to be bombarded from all sides as they wash their hands and give us the finger.

President: Come on boys, even I can figure that one out. Just start flashing out some five hundred rupee notes, and you will see them all line up. Also make sure the DA advertises free beer after the meeting. We will only give this out if the meeting turns out well.  Then put some of our own stooges in the crowd with a few pre-meditated questions.  That way, I can rehearse the answers ahead of time.  

Jenpa: Sir, brilliant ideas indeed and it worked in the last election.  You will look and sound as good as Obama with his teleprompter.  You could even let Robot VP Belmont answer a question every now and then. By the way Sir, he smells really good since he came back from the ITB show in Berlin; they gave him this new Seychelles perfume and he smells much better now. Even the State House ladies have noticed.  I think you should also get a few free bottles too.

Orderly: Sir, I agree on the perfume, and I hear they might come out with a Seychelles Whiskey soon. I can’t wait. But Sir, no need to worry. Bravery is a virtue that very few leaders possess. But I have to report that Afif (aka Gollum Numero One) at SBC is in the line of fire from the Koste Committee. Too many telenovelas to drown our people’s sorrows and not enough educational programs to lift us out of the moral decay they say. Even the Pti Men are starting to sing about these soap operas in their rap songs.

JenPA: I fully support this way forward Sir. SBC has a duty to improve our population’s knowledge about what’s going on in the country. The monthly ‘Rankont avek Prezidan’ is proof that we can educate the mass on the workings of State House. This is well backed up by our newsletter, despite our first issue dated January which covered the February State of the Nation speech but released in March. Sorry for putting the bull before the cart, but I have been very busy as you well know. The Jj foundation is taking up a lot of my time as it is not easy to convince these young people these days. Thank God for the money to give them cheap loans.  But I really don’t think Boss did a good job with this new bunch of kids. They seem to have their own brains and want to think for themselves. And the attitude! Quite shocking.

President: Ah my friends. Education! This is something that has always eluded me. I was on the way there when I was being taught French by the Irish sisters of Regina Mundi Convent through evening classes. If I had my say, the convent school and Seychelles College would have still been standing today and I would have been able to finish my O and A levels.  But Boss had other ideas. Shut them down he said, and let us start NYS so that we could indoctrinate them with communist ideology. I think this is backfiring now, as these kids today only think about money, Apple iPods, Nike and Coca Cola. I think they are all turning into greedy little “Capitaliste”.

Orderly (muttering under his breath): “Hmmm, just like Boss, Mooky, Dugasse, Changleng and the Savys…”

JenPA: Sir I would have loved going to Regina Mundi as well as I feel more at ease with girls. Hmmm, what a thought….

Orderly: Sir, I have so many fond memories of SeyCo.  I kissed my first girl there you know, and even Boss’ wife was hot back then in her skimpy tennis outfit.  Ah, but enough of the nostalgia and regrets! We really have to focus on the work at hand. I have just been briefed by Liz and Miss Kreol that everything is set for our first district meeting at Pointe Larue.

President: We will have to beef up our security detail as I have a feeling that there will be a lot of venom unleashed on me this time around. We also need to ensure that we bring along the whole team so that I am not the only one to be facing the barrage of questions. Not the best way to judge me by my actions. I read a passage in the bible recently and I am getting scared of this stoning thing. Even my Arab friends believe in this stoning stuff.  Real scary.

JenPA: Yes Sir! We will make sure we avoid those embarrassing questions like those posed by the Regar journalist after your ‘tete a tete’ with Marie-Lou. I must admit that some of the strong rhetoric like ‘kile’ will always come back to haunt us. Let’s blame it on VP if it comes up.

Orderly: Sir let’s hope that you do not get a rotten egg or a ‘lamok baka’ in the face, or even a shoe like George Bush. Remember that times are really tough, and “le pep” will want some real answers. Like brother Ja Bob would sing, “A hungry man is an angry man!”

President: Well I hope that you guys have taken care of all the protocol arrangements to ensure that I am properly guarded and safe. Do I really have to go through all this heat? I suppose it is self imposed as I mentioned it in my State of the Nation and now I cannot back down. I had thought about sending VP Belmont alone but I think that it is best to show that we are a big family and we are all in it together. I have also summoned all the ministers to take turns, and they are not happy.  But I am the Boss right?

Orderly: Sir, this will be the best litmus test for their performance. They will be judged by the people. It will make your task easier when it comes to firing a shot across their bow! ‘Lepep in note, lepep in koze!’

President: We will also test the resolve of the opposition and see how they react to the invitation in their respective district. Georges has already played the trumpet on the meeting in his district to tackle the druggies. We’ll see what the future holds. Ramka is still feeling aggrieved that we are snubbing him on the official party and events circuit. He wants to be like DP Jim.  You see guys, I cannot allow him to take the limelight. You saw how proud I was at the Sportman of the Year awards – I felt that “Lespoir”.  I think I deserved the cup for this ‘hop step and jump’ of my first years at the presidency.

Orderly: Sir, relax. JP and I are working on a mega event for next year and it will blow everyone away. It will blow the opposition and even the new DP wanna-be leader out of the water…

The team prepares to usher in the new COI Secretary General who will brief the President on the latest developments in Madagascar. This ‘prise de pouvoir’ amounts to a ‘coup d’etat’ and Mr. President intends to condemn this in no uncertain terms. “Boy, how times have changed…has it really been 32 years since I held that AK47 on June 5th 1977... oh the power and the glory in my hands.  Damn, I miss the old days.”


Thursday, March 19, 2009

Seychelles Raffles Praslin Environmental Disaster

Seychelles Raffles Hotel on Praslin - Environmental Disaster

Seychelles Raffles Hotel Bleeds Praslin Red

The site where Raffles Hotel and villas are being built by Vijay Construction was recently hit by heavy rains.  Because there were no precautions taken by Raffles agents and Vijay Construction, the island went bleeding red soil into the Anse Possession Bay, fronting Curieuse Island and the Marine Park. As the rains fell and currents flowed, the red soil made its way up to beautiful Cote D'Or beach, in front of Paradise Hotel.  This is an environmental disaster that will destroy the eco-system of the beautiful island of Praslin, and if this keeps up, there will no longer be white beaches on Praslin.  Anse Lazio is next when the monsoon changes soon.

To date, the SPPF Michel Government of Seychelles has not publically said anything about this environmental destruction. Silence has reigned. But in any other legitiamte jurisdiction that truly cares about the environment, stop order certificates would have been issued, heavy fines and penalties would follow, which would be used to protect the environment.

Apparently, even environmental officials on Praslin have responded to the Raffles project with disgust, but no action has been taken. Raffles has set a bad example and has demonstrated that it cares little for our environment and what we respect in Seychelles.

Once again, the SPPF Government is not serving its people and prefer to pay lip service to the environment while rolling out the red soiled carpet (no pun intended) to foreign investors who do not have Seychelles at heart.  Money talks, and it speaks louder when our Government remains silent on such important issues.  Shame on you SPPF! And shame on you Ministry of the Environment!  You both continue to fail the people of Seychelles.

A group of concerned and very angry Praslin (Seychelles) citizens.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Seychelles Column - Where We Stand in 2009 Under "The Spirit" - by Christopher Gill

Where We Stand In 2009 Under Spirit 

As the Year 2009 starts to unfold before us, and 2007 is well behind us, 2008 has still left a bitter resin on the tip of our tongues, we must now see where we stand in 2009 with this "Spirit". Remember the Spirit, it is in Victoria, on Praslin, in Abu Dhabi, in Doha, Singapore.... it is everywhere....new offices usually follow it about wherever it goes as well as an entourage of camera men, journalist that have no courage to ask a single question, body guards, umbrella boys, waterboys, limousines.

The "Spirit" of 2006

In the Election year of 2006, Spirit told us that we were rich, rich, rich. Spirit told us that it had a plan that was dubbed "Strategy 2017", which was presented to us in the little white handbook with gold lining, and promised to double our GDP in 10 years. "Strategy of 2017" promised development, and enrichment of the Seychellois; even officials from the Central Bank would refer to its objectives when interviewed on SBC. SBC journalists never questioned the reference. In talk shows like Face-a-Face, government officials would refer to it in communist fashion as if it was a Bible. The host would pose no questions. Perhaps it is a Bible for non-believers, non-Christians like Atheists. 

The Spirit promised growth rates of 10% per annum and an accelerated economy for 10  years, every year, similar to the Madoff ponzi scheme that ripped off US$ 50 billion from investors in America. Head Spirit, sounded like he knew what he was saying in 2006. But soon, the Year 2007 would have a word with Head Spirits' artificial aspirations that were dreamed of in some deep slumber in the Presidential Suite on Silhouette Island, possibly, or maybe when he was on one of those Arab private jets that picked him up.

The "Spirit" of 2007 

In 2007, the Spirit was retrenching and after visiting the Pope of the Catholic Church at the Vatican in our name, he said that he was happy to announce that we "had paid all our debts", when in fact we had just borrowed more money to pay more debts, at an unbearable interest rate. Why borrow in a countries name at unbearable, unsustainable interest rates? Big question! Anyone with the courage to answer that at Spirit headquarters? 

As the Spirit borrowed to make it look like we were on our way to achieving the objectives of "Strategy 2017", we became more and more indebted. As this wave of borrowing took root in the Spirits' system, graft and corruption was ignored and paid lip service, to the point wherein allegations have been made and not denied till today, that the Ex Governor of the Central Bank, played with the money of the People. The Spirit did nothing about it, and just kept on borrowing to the amount of over $500Million in just a few short years, making us the most indebted country in the world per capita. This Truth is undeniable! I dare you to sue Bloomberg. I dare you, "Spirit" to sue Reuters!

The "Spirit" Falls on its Knees in 2008 

As the price of fuel continued to escalate in the Year 2008 and the world underwent a financial crisis in September 2008, and the Lehman Brothers collapsed, just before that, the Spirit was already defaulting on our external Bond obligations in July ($230 Million Bond interest payment)and August (Euro 54.75 Million plus default penalty of $50 Million on an interest payment) , just one month before the financial crisis hit Lehman Brothers and other companies on Wall Street and beyond. As the Spirit defaulted on the Bonds, first the $230 Million Public Issue Bond at 9.10 % interest, then on a second controversial Private Issue Bond for Euro 54.75 Million, then a $50 Million penalty fee kicked in on the Private Bond because of the default, the Spirit was kicked itself, to its knees. Spirit did not tell us about a $50 Million penalty fee for missing an interest payment of just a little over $1Million. My my "Spirit", you do work in mysterious ways, how you fake it so well, if you could only make it! 

As Afif aka “Gollum” and Faure the shadow president told us and the World that Seychelles could no longer cope with its external commercial loan obligations, under the Spirit, we were already not even performing on bilateral and multi-lateral obligations in 2008. We were ignoring our debts which were created by no other than the Spirit itself, and his predecessor Rene.

As we became non-performing sovereign state like Republika De Cuba (Faure’s higher education), our credit rating dropped in 2008 under the Spirit to the point that we were ranked lower than even Pakistan, a terrorist infested Country, where a former Prime Minister has just been murdered in cold blood.

Today, under this same Spirit, we are the only country that enjoys "The Lowest Credit Rating in The World". Under Spirit, SBC journalist AND Nation, we are officially BANKRUPT. So if you love Seychelles, start asking some questions or seek journalistic -asylum in Madagascar, where journalists are encouraged to remain silent, in exchange for a salary and maybe a hut. 

To make matters worse for us all now the little "Spirit-esses" are looking for a Sr. 100,000.00 micro credit loan, the Spirit is planning on running for Re-Election in 2011, again and shatter Mr. Four's (4) hope of retiring the Spirit in a keep sake jar once and for all like Boss would like.

May the Lord have mercy upon us and spare us this foreseen wrath about to come down upon us in the Omen Year of 2009. What is an Omen you ask SBC "journalists"? An Omen is a being, possessed by the Devil. The Devil lives inside the being. I leave the rest to your imagination. But please, start asking some questions. The People of Seychelles are witness to your cowardice in the face of our motherlands moment of weakness and frailty.

Action vs Words In 2008

At the beginning of 2008, the Spirit was increasing salaries for itself. By the end of 2008, it was making redundant over 2000 workers and cutting public assistance through a weights and measure scheme to ensure that all members of the Spirit, get their fat-cat salaries, in spite of their failures. Strange for a Spirit that feels for ordinary people. Journalist did not question the matter.

As IMF engaged the Spirit, it transformed itself overnight into a beast we are unfamiliar with. One moment they cut a program, the next moment they re-instate the program. One moment they commit $5 Million to Tourism promotion, the next moment they say that money is to pay debts going back to 2002 and the Industry is on it own. Strange. Journalist said nothing.

One moment they implement a weights and measure scheme for welfare recipients, and turn away 375 applicants, the next moment they tell them to come back and get reassessed with new weights and measures. Strange. Journalists were silent like lamb, after slaughter. 

One moment the Homecarers were told by a Minister that they will be out of employment on December 31, 2008, then the next moment the Spirit possibly possessed by an Omen says that they will stop end of April, 2009. Strange. Nation had no words, SBC said nothing of the matter. Not a question posed!

One moment they say the Commissioner of Police is doing a fine job, ignore the fact that he is Army and from Cuba, the next moment, he has resigned and disappeared like an Exile, only to be replaced by retired Irish policemen. SBC and Nation were silent like a co-conspirator that lives in fear. Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil, or anything in between.

One moment we are told assets will be declared, then Captain Adam tells us on SBC , he will not declare assets until after SEPEC is audited. Strange. Journalist posed no questions.

One moment Spirit said bus passes would not go up, then the next moment , the prices shot up, even though the price of fuel dropped. Journalists turned the other cheek and prayed they never had to take the bus.

One moment Spirit said plane tickets would not go up, the next moment, the prices shot up. There has been silence ever since. In fact there is so much silence, you can hear the planes when resting in hangar. Strange.

One moment Spirit said we need a professional Police Force, the next moment, they cut its Budget. Strange. How can one profess to love Seychelles, and remain silent as our Police Force is sentenced to scavenging for batteries and torches.

One moment the Spirit said we need to maintain excellent hospital services, the next moment Spirit was removing hospital beds and mattresses from wards. Strange. No comment, not even about the new hospital going up by a person who helped run the old one to the ground. Wonder if Spirit and Boss have shares in this new venture?

It has been mentioned, one moment the Army had a Budget of almost Sr.90 Million, the next moment checks of Sr. 195.00 were not clearing. Strange. Is that true? Perhaps the Army can clarify a matter which is in the public interest: use of our money. Send a letter not a bullet.

As Spirit asked IMF for $100Million in assistance (200% of our allocation), IMF gave only $26 Million, maybe, in installments less then 50% of our allocation). As Spirit said it was their Plan, IMF said it was their own Plan written in Washington DC USA and implemented in Seychelles, Mahé, Victoria. Strange. What's happening here? Is Spirit taking credit for an IMF Plan? Strange. Say something SBC and Nation, show us that your mandate is to educate the public, and not keep them living in ignorance.

Not long ago, the Spirit said" Kile, Les Spirit Travay" . Then, in early 2009, Spirit goes on SBC with one eye looking to the South, and one eye looking to the North, and says....Koste! Whats going on here? Strange. Do we fully understand what's happening to Spirit? I doubt it. Do lead journalist at SBC and Nation care? I doubt it!

One moment we are told development is for Seychellois then we see only Arabs developing and Seychellois are placed on "Deferred" status, while Arab sheiks have their plans approved in their own country. Strange. No further comment.

One moment we are told to protect our environment, then we see our environment being ripped apart for villas for sheiks and the rich people of the world, without any control. Strange. What kind of Spirit are we dealing with? Is it a spirit that protects the environment or one that lives off the environment?

We are told ADAMS force will fight drug traffickers and operate to catch escobars. The next moment, the force is disbanded. Strange. No questions asked, not even a squeek!

We are told farmers will  get $500,000.00 hard currency for grains and the next moment they are given the animal feed factory and told to sink or swim, fatten or starve your pigs, on your own, on a thread of hope. Strange. Why control animal feed on a national level, only to let pigs and chickens starve to death? Is that right?

We are told the price of fuel will be adjusted according to the world market trends. The next thing we know, fuel price does not adjust to world trends and stays the same. When it goes down in mid-January 2009 (a little late), gasoline drops but gas oil/diesel hardly drops. Strange, especially since gas oil is almost junk.  Any comments SBC and Nation?

Where we stand in 2009 with the Spirit is in quick sand! I apologize for digressing in quality of writing, but I am trying to keep up with a falling Spirit. It is not easy.

Next week I will address serious economic issues and give an opinion, where we really stand on the economy in Seychelles today, something the Spirit does not seem to comprehend, judging from its performance.

But Spirit can use the points I will highlight in its State of The Nation Address if it has the courage too.......don't hold your breath! Does the Spirit even breathe?

May God Bless All Freedom Loving Seychellois and our beloved Seychelles!

For comments, email me at sezfree4u@yahoo.com

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Seychelles - State of the Nation 2009 or State of the NUTS?

James MICHEL delivered probably his most pathetic State of the Nation address a couple of weeks ago! He has finally come down from his cloud and abandoned the rhetoric of booms to paint a gloomy picture of the busts and disasters that lie ahead. As typical of any SPPF politician, it is always somebody’s fault and we have to be strong, resilient (that word again!) and ‘kosto’ to stare catastrophe in the face and deal with it! Even imitating Obama with his rallying call – ‘Wi nou pou travay’! 

This time around in 09, everything is about “us” when only a couple of years ago he was telling Seychellois who opposed his SPPF party’s communist ideals to “kile”, to get out the way and to let “Jj travay”.  How ironic that he is now begging all Seychellois to come together to help him get the country back on track, when it is he and Albert Rene and their mismanagement and corruption that have brought us a bankrupt nation.

We now see a rehashed speech of 08 that offers no optimism nor hope for the people of Seychelles who has ended up in a sinking ship that has been condemned to the bottom of the ocean thanks to the SPPF policies of the last 32 odd years. The poor ship has been torpedoed relentlessly and now the President is calling (for the first time!!) on national unity, togetherness, patriotism etc… to get us out of this mess and refloat (oops! sorry the rupee notes were lighter and floated first). However, the blame is squarely laid on the ‘tenpet ekonomik ki pe frap lemonn’.

Michel states that the IMF plan (which the Seychelles proposed to the IMF!) is sound and bearing the fruits and he ‘understands’ the hardships that the people are going through. So obviously he and his fat cats do not feel this hardship but they sympathise with the rest of us! How about doing these reforms 10 years ago Mr. President when the people were asking your government to do so? Obviously some personal agendas of getting rich fast amongst your entourage delayed the implementation of such reforms. Now that we are hanging by a thread, you revert to desperate measures. Why not call on the few who have hoarded the $2.4 billion to save us?

As usual, the President has a few ‘presents’ in his bag of tricks when he delivers this yearly address - to appeal to his grassroots supporter base. First, a series of new measures to help the needy and a new weight basket, since he is so sympathetic to their cause. Then a few cents off some basic commodities to finish the trick… but everyone was surprised to see that imported apples and oranges are part of our basic commodities.This must now be the grassroots fruits of choice today instead of mangoes, papaya, golden apples, the real fruits that Seychellois ate and enjoyed for years…I guess that’s what we call evolution of the SPPF party! 

The banks need to shape up as they are exploiting the situation Michel believes! But what he fails to tell us is that we are lucky the banks are sound and can still lend money to people… while his government is bankrupt. The banks operate according to government fiscal and monetary policies. So Michel has found a new scapegoat. And we need to be more ‘realis, responsab & resilan’ same three words from last year all over again.  Let’s ‘koste’ he pleads to everyone! What a two-faced monstrous farce from the man who uttered ‘kile’ when he was elected!

Diplomacy – Michel has placed a lot of emphasis on diplomacy as his regime seeks to get the international credibility that his predecessor lacked. Diplomats are received on a weekly basis in fanfare… the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is almost obsolete now that the President wants to be seen rubbing shoulders with all foreign dignitaries. He justifies his multiple trips abroad to putting Seychelles on the world map and championing our cause – the very same excuse he and Rene used to oust Mancham in the 1977 bloody (not bloodless) Coup d’Etat. And now the ultimate prize he brings home is that Seychellois will not require any visas to enter Europe! A decision made by the European community a few years back and extended to several other countries including Seychelles!

Democracy – How ironic that we have to be taking lessons in democracy from the same perpetrators of the Coup D’Etat! Michel now believes in a more ‘pluralist’ democracy where he will conduct district meetings (again) in this ‘grand exercise of democracy’. Never mind the treason of 1977.  Incidentally, there is hardly any mention of last year’s grand exercise for our constitution, which is the foundation stone of our democracy. Having played and toyed with the constitution at will, Michel now believes that we need to ‘koste pou nou esanz lide’! Now that he needs to garner all the support from every corner of Seychelles to rally behind his lost cause, Michel wants to set up a new high level forum between the leader of government business, the leader of the opposition and himself for monthly meetings. The perfect way to annihilate the opposition is to get them to rally behind a national theme on the surface (koste) while they play their party politics behind the scene (kile)…Gouvernay in touzour dan zot lanmen!  And thank God the SNP leader Wavel Ramkalawan in his response to Michel’s pitiable speech sent him packing along with a long list of issues that could be solved at the stroke of a pen.  Good on you Wavel…you should have told him to “kile and have an early election and let the people decide their own future”.

Productivity – Michel reckons that we need to be more productive in these difficult times. But what is government doing to encourage productivity? Local businesses are striving to make ends meet while foreign companies are given ridiculous concessions and tax free incentives with zero revenue coming into the country. As tourism takes a plunge, he comes in with a card up his sleeve. GST increase has been deferred until better times. The local Seychellois businesses (the only ones affected by GST as the foreign ones are exempted) should be grateful! This will surely help increase their productivity. And meanwhile, the army trucks are still rolling around Mahe wasting our hard-earned money, the Government vehicles are still carrying wives and girlfriends, the overseas shopping trips are still on, and corruption is worse than ever before in his own Government!

His vision in 04? – For those who have followed Michel’s rise to power when he assumed office in 04, he wanted to be judged by his actions and aspired to be the President for all Seychellois. But unfortunately this vision is still only a farfetched dream as he has continued to preside on the pillage of the country with all its corruption and graft that today we are faced with a ‘bold’ IMF recovery program that he is asking all the people to rally behind ‘pou lanmour Sesel’! He has continued with Albert Rene’s policy of divide and rule as this is best suited to keep SPPF in power. Yes Mr. President, the people will judge you by your actions or in your case, your inactions. Everyone is now seeing through this SPPF strategy. You have been forced into becoming a caretaker for an abandoned ship and time is catching up with you and your predecessor. All the rhetoric, pomp and fanfare (and imitations of Obama) will not provide you with this makeover that you crave. Unfortunately you are championing a lost cause…and the people of Seychelles has finally come to realise you are running on an empty tank and the only way out of this mess is to rid our country of the SPPF scourge.  The corrupt few can continue to move their money and hide them in projects and overseas jurisdiction such as their favourite British Virgin Island (BVI) companies; but eventually, the people of Seychelles will seek and find the truth.  And answers you will all have to give; just like Madoff just admitted his sins in New York city!

Remember? - In his previous ‘State of the Nation’ (S of the N), James Michel said that everything was ‘booming’. Sa pti bizou! A year later (2008) he tells us to be realistic, responsible and resilient ‘akoz zafer pa bon’. This year (2009) we are being hit by a world economic tsunami that requires more resilience. ‘Wi nou pou travay’ and we need all the solidarity we can muster to fight back this evil.  The previous Master Bater Latet (Albert Rene) told us time and time again in his many S of the Ns that nou lekonomi i solid’ and we need to give a few more years and “ser sang”, while they continued to pillage… Now, ‘kapten in file…lanmans pwalon i tro so’! 

We are now into 15 years of our new constitution which was supposed to be a new ‘multi parti’ departure! But today, we have more of the same. ‘Plus ça change, plus ça reste pareil’.

Our S of the N can only be compared to the “State of the Nuts”!  And during his tenure, James Michel has contributed greatly to our country’s demise.  His State of the Union was shallow and empty, and he has insulted our intelligence.  We are really judging him by his actions and today, if he was to take an exam, the results would be a resounding “F” for FAILURE of gigantic proportions.  Maybe the new SPPF logo should represent: SPPF Party Progressive Failures!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Seychelles Cartoon - Koste Seselwa

Foreign Lawyers in Seychelles

There has been a lot of talk within the legal community of the Government's plans to open up the Seychelles legal profession to foreign lawyers. The Government has stated that there is pressure from the WTO for them to open up the legal profession to foreign lawyers. A proposed Legal Practitioners' Act (the "Proposed LPA") has been circulated and is drawing great criticism from all fronts.

Amongst other things, the Proposed LPA seeks to open up what is deemed 'international business law' to foreign lawyers. Foreign lawyers, without the need to undergo pupillage, can then set up shop in Seychelles and practice Seychelles law, but within the confines of this 'international business law'.

Push comes to shove, what the Proposed LPA does is allowing persons, unskilled and unqualified in Seychelles law, to practice within an area of Seychelles law. This is ridiculous. What makes this worse is that the people trying to push this matter forward (which are not the WTO people) do not even understand the difference between Seychelles law and the law of another jurisdiction.

Perhaps the layman does not comprehend what the critical issue is, so let me give you an analogy. Let's say that a Seychelles lawyer is a human medical doctor and a foreign lawyer is a vet. The Proposed LPA will basically allow a vet to operate on a human being! This is contrary to good sense. What human being would want to be operated on by a vet? What would the international community say if they found out that Seychelles will allow vets to operate on human beings? In the same vein, what will the international investors say when they find out that the Proposed LPA will allow foreign lawyers to practice Seychelles law?

The People pushing for the Proposed LPA argue that many other countries have opened up their borders for foreign lawyers. But these countries have opened up their borders for foreign lawyers to practice foreign law, not the national law. To go back to our doctor v/s vet analogy, what has happened in other countries is that they have allowed the vets to come into their country to practice on dogs, cats and rats, not human beings. The people pushing for the Proposed LPA always fails to mention the above. Probably because they don't understand the distinction.

Most Seychelles lawyers are not against foreign lawyers setting up shop in Seychelles to practice the laws of the jurisdiction that they have qualified in, but to suggest that they practice Seychelles law, be it only within a particular area or otherwise, is ridiculous and unacceptable.

Contributed by The Robing Room - The official blog of the Seychelles Legal Environment Website http://robingroom.blogspot.com 

Struggling Seychelles - By Richard Warren

Nowhere is immune from the global economic crisis, not even paradise. Sales of luxury holiday homes in the Seychelles have slowed to a trickle, because of belt tightening by the world’s wealthy. Although the Seychelles gave the go-ahead to building resort communities for overseas buyers four years ago, tight planning controls mean only four schemes have homes for sale.

Prior to the collapse of several banks like Lehman Brothers, last autumn, sales had been good. On the west coast of Mahe, the Seychelles’ principal island, 18 of 28 villas at the highly exclusive Four Seasons Private Residences were sold within a couple of months of coming onto the market in May 2008, most in pre-sales. The least expensive home, a three bed residence, is USD7million. Two buyers come from Singapore, most of the rest from Europe and the Middle East. Over the last six months no villas have been sold at this project.

Only one villa from 13 on offer at the Banyan Tree Seychelles resort on Mahe island has been sold. Prices start from USD1.5million for a one bedroom villa. Eden Island, the first, largest and least expensive of the resort communities was mostly sold before credit began to be crunched. Two-thirds of its 450 villas, duplexes and apartments are sold with South Africans and Britons the biggest groups of buyers. Prices start at USD375,000.

Sales were strongest over the past six months at Zil Pasyon on Felicite Island where prices start at USD3million for a three bed home. Nine of its 28 villas have been sold to buyers from across the world, including a Hong Kong-based western expatriate. However, some buyers were having financial difficulties project developer, Per Aquum Residences, revealed.

“Some buyers have asked for extensions on payment schemes,” said Jenni Beggs, managing director of Per Aquum Residences, “Two UK buyers from Monaco put down deposits and have withdrawn. We’ve found that the UK market has been hardest hit.”

James Davies, director at London-based Hamptons International, sales agents for Four Seasons Private Residences, said the global economic slump had dampened sales of homes, but buyer enquiries had grown since December.

“Inevitably, like everything, there were buyers, but then their circumstances have changed, both at the high end and entry level,” he said, “Since the end of last year we have had more interest from individuals looking to relocate, some for tax reasons. Also we have entrepreneurs looking for somewhere to chill out.”

He anticipated sales would start to pick up at Four Seasons following the opening of its hotel on 5th February, because visiting holidaymakers would be able to view nine villas completed in January.

“We are very confident that we will have sold out by end of 2009, because it will all be built, the hotel is open and it is one of the best resorts in the world,” he said.

With only a few luxury homes being built in the Seychelles, estate agents and developers are confident they can ride out the downturn, especially since these properties are rent-able to holidaymakers.

“The key is that it is a very limited market,” said Mr. Davies, “The Seychelles has very high environmental standards, so getting planning permission takes years and years and years. Also, it has the highest average hotel room rates in the world and consistently higher occupancy levels.”

Each resort scheme is highly distinctive. Situated on steep hillsides overlooking a quiet bay, the Four Seasons villas are built on stilts from stone and wood in the creole-style with steep metal roofs to shoot heavy rain. Residents can use Four Seasons hotel facilities.

The strikingly minimalist Zil Pasyon villas designed by British architectural practice, Richard Hywel Evans, have James Bond baddie-levels of over-the-top glamour. Each villa has a glass bottomed swimming pool outside the first floor master bedroom which forms part of the ceiling of the lounge below.

Each Banyan Tree villa has a surround sound home theatre system, steam room, jet pool, sun deck, private swimming pool and access to the beach, although the sea is rough here, so not ideal for swimming. Residents can use the resort’s spa.

Eden Island is a marina complex built on reclaimed land off the coast Mahe, close to the airport. Mr. Davies said there was a growing trend for overseas investors to buy land on the Seychelles’s 115 islands, so they could build their own home. Hamptons was helping six foreigners, including a Hong Kong-based British expatriate, to buy land.

“They are looking for sites that range from one to 20 acres,” he said, “You can pay GBP5 million for a few acres of beach-front, or get something significantly better for GBP2million, because owners are picking valuations out of the air. It is a brand new market, so it is very difficult to get good valuations. “As soon as you step back from the beach prices fall right back. You can get a couple of acres of property with ocean views for a GBP300,000.”