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Seychelles achieved much during the year -- President

December 20, 201 -- The President, Mr James A Michel, has highlighted the successes of Seychelles during the past year and which have made the country proud. In his En Moman Avek Prezidan (Meeting the President) broadcast last night, he cited the rescue of Seychellois fishermen from pirates, the inauguration of the University of Seychelles, the economic reforms and the Young Leaders Programme as some of the achievements.

He spoke about the excellent work of our defence forces to rescue Seychellois fishermen from Somali pirates.

"Our defence forces, despite difficult conditions, succeeded in their operation and made us proud," he added.

Mr Michel said this incident proved the need for defence forces, adding that no one can now doubt this need.

Another event that impressed him and the country was the opening of the University of Seychelles, which he said was a dream.

Many people said Seychelles is too small to have its own university, but the official opening in November proved them wrong, he added.

"I shared this dream with all Seychellois when I announced the project in my state-of-the-nation address on June 18, 2007," said Mr Michel.

He said the university is the basis for our future and brings more opportunities to our young people.

The Young Leaders Programme is also a milestone in our development, the President said.

"We have three groups - the civil, military and police - and these youths can later take on new leadership roles," he said.

Mr Michel also spoke of the success of the economic reforms that started in 2008; this year Seychellois have seen the results.

He said the international community has been impressed by "our performance, good work and progress which have made us proud". And Seychelles extends its thanks to the creditors who have substantially written off our debts.

"Our economic growth is 6%, and we have been able to cut our debts as a result of the credibility we have established," he added.

He said the social welfare system is functioning quite well, although there are some weaknesses that we need to address.

Mr Michel said our success lies also in the new business environment in which Seychellois are working hard. Today we have about 600 new small businesses, thanks to loans from government and concessionary credit from banks.

The President said though we have had our share of success, there are still challenges ahead.

"The economic reform has brought many challenges and sacrifices for our people, but things are getting better," he said.

One of the main challenges is to see how we can sustain our reform, making the remaining changes work so they will not have a negative effect on people.

Today there are more resources in the country, and people have realised that much has been done, Mr Michel said.

"We have foreign exchange in banks and a wide variety of commodities in shops," he said.

Like other countries in the world, we have our own particular challenges; as a small island state, Seychelles is being badly affected by climate change, which has brought more droughts this year.

These are difficult times for Seychellois who have to wait for water until late at night, and next year we have to speed up the way we tackle the issue of water shortages, he said.

He added that the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) group helps us to voice our concerns so that countries polluting our environment can help us to readapt through renewable energy.

The issue of piracy is another concern, and if Somalia remains an unstable state with total anarchy this can lead to more serious issues such as terrorism, the President said.

He added that recently the pirates have moved towards India, Maldives and even Tanzania.

"We have to prepare ourselves and next year intensify our capacity to face these challenges," he added.

Mr Michel added that our youths are also becoming victims of drug abuse, which is causing an increase in other social ills such as prostitution.

He gave some statistics on drug arrests for this year, during which 602 people have been arrested; 65 cases have already been investigated - 43 for trafficking and 22 for possession - and 14 of these traffickers are now in prison.

It is a great achievement for our nation every time these people are sent to prison, as they are destroying our youths, he stressed.

Mr Michel said the police and judiciary need to have more resources to take up such cases more quickly, and the government has put structures in place to address this.

"We have to tackle these social ills together at district level, through counselling, helping these young people to get jobs and educating them more," he said.

Mr Michel ended by asking all Seychellois, during this festive season, to live the spirit of Christmas with family and friends.