Seychelles parliament mum on food prices increase


VICTORIA, Seychelles (eTN) – 
The Seychelles speaker of the National Assembly, Dr. Patrick Herminie, has rejected a request from the opposition party to hold an emergency session to discuss the food prices increase. The request was made when the National Assembly was in recess.

According to opposition party leader Wavel Ramkalawan, his submission was justified because the cost of living had increased dramatically over the past few months, and that the people needed to be informed of governments plan s to mitigate the effects of such hardships.

Mr. Ramkalawan explained that his demand for the Assembly to reconvene in an emergency session should be seen as a call for the opposition, Seychelles National Party, for the government to come up with both short term and long term measures to address the critical increases in food prices and with their effects on the population.

The Seychelles government has recently announced increase in the price of rice, the staple meal for the local population. This is a result of the increase taking place internationally, but for Seychelles it comes just after the government has devalued its currency making the price of rice and other basic food items too expensive for the average family.

The 2008 Budget presented by Finance Minister Danny Faure brought extravagant increases in the price of electricity and water amongst many other necessities needed by regular households. This comes at a time when the population has not seen any substantial increase in their salaries but that saw members of the government and National Assembly members give themselves huge salary increases, bonuses and gratuities. Increase in food prices is causing undue hardship for the average income earners.

The Secretary General of the Seychelles Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mrs. Tirant-Gherardi said in a television interview that the government should consider subsidizing farmers to encourage them to produce more.

The Seychelles government has been taking previously agricultural land and earmarking them for other uses such as the Seychelles University project and new hotel projects.

Many outer coralline islands also remain virtually idle and farming programs discontinued or placed on back burners, as government consider deals to turn some of them into new tourism resorts.

The poorer members of the population remain more vulnerable to price increases as they remain underpaid compared to the Seychelles cost of living index and to the new salaries of members of the ruling hierarchy.

The speaker of the National Assembly, Dr. Patrick Herminie, has displayed a touch of insensitivity when refusing to call the country’s National Assembly to discuss such an important issue. Taking the decision of postponing the start of the National Assembly by a week to allow different members of the ruling party to undertake a sightseeing tour of China. The visit was described by a Chinese newspaper as a “visit of friendship.”