06 April 2011 | Finance.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Seychelles has undergone remarkable economic and social transformation and development during the past years through the implementation of a range of reforms and strategic policies. During that period, investment - both foreign and local - has remained an absolute priority for my Government.
Many opportunities exist. But are they sufficiently known? A high profile conference on opportunities in Seychelles, therefore, is long overdue. Set at the end of the Seychelles2020 Expo, this business forum benefits from the vast opportunities exhibited in the various core themes of the Expo. It is the first of its kind to be organized for the business community in Seychelles and forms part of the SIB outreach strategy.
The forum brings together policy makers, business leaders and business associations from all the prominent sectors of the economy. It aims to unveil potential investment opportunities to Seychellois entrepreneurs mainly. It is also aimed at encouraging public-private dialogue and at improving doing business in Seychelles. I know we have a lot to do to improve but together we can do it. Recommendations from this event will be useful for the business environment reform currently and continuously taking place.
SIB has since its creation in July 2004 been the platform for the promotion of investments in Seychelles and has approved over the past 5 years investments to the value of SR45.5 billion rupees, processing well over 1200 applications for businesses in various forms and sectors of our economy. These investments have been dominated to a large extent by the small tourism accommodation category which is being promoted by Seychellois entrepreneurs, and these accounted alone for 49% of all approved projects for 2010.
Through my visits, to various communities and businesses, I have been able to personally gauge the success of some of our Seychellois-owned businesses. But their concerns have not evaded me: the delays in the process for certain investment approval, the delays for business registration, the high interest rates which the banks are charging, the strict lending requirements of those same banks, the high rental charges for office and industrial space, the high labour turnover, the limitations for development in terms of land and other infrastructures. These are some of the areas which still require improvement. And fast, very fast! The recently announced initiatives to ease bank credit facilities for businesses are a good start in this new direction.
Our goal is clear: to propel the private sector to anchor itself as the main engine of growth, whilst we, the Government, focus our efforts to facilitate, to regulate and to ensure sustainability and coordination of our joint efforts.
However, these efforts must be continuous in the light of drastic changes in the world economy if we want to maintain growth and to evolve with the times. At the same time, we should always be mindful of the effects any development could have on our environment and ensure that our economic growth remains within limits that are environmentally sustainable. We also need to continuously improve on service delivery and professionalism when dealing with potential investors, born foreign and local.
SIB has, for its part, been pro-active in responding to change. The Seychelles Investment Act 2010 of November last year provides for a better legal environment that is conducive to a greater flow of investments and the protection of the right of investors. The acronym SIB, as you are aware, under the new Act, now stands for Seychelles Investment Board rather than Bureau.
Through its wide network of contacts established over the years SIB should be better able to assist with matchmaking and business facilitation. The creation of an independent appeal panel for any investor who feels aggrieved by any investment decision should further strengthen the overall investment framework and provide further security and stability to investments.
Today, just over 6 years since the creation of SIB, I have the pleasure of launching a new brand for investment which underpins what SIB is here for.
The brand places emphasis on the security that Seychelles provides for investors. It underlines the social harmony and stability that are essential for investment and development. It stresses the value we place on our environment and on sustainability. It reflects our tourism positioning and strategy and compliments in all aspects the tourism brand which I launched last year. In short, the brand advocates Seychelles not just as the place for holidays but also a great place to invest, a great place for wealth creation and a great location for global and regional corporate positioning.
An important consideration in the development of any investment project is the impact it will have on the environment, on the community, and on local infrastructure, such as roads and amenities. We expect all investors to show good corporate social responsibility by showing commitment to the preservation of our natural environment, and to the benefit of communities where they are located.
We, however, need to bear in mind that a new brand no matter how solid the concept, no matter how creative the slogans, will not go far without the ultimate commitment of all concerned. It will not succeed if we do not take true ownership of it.
We also have to bear in mind that without national unity, without stability, there can be no investment, no growth, no social and economic development. We will slide into chaos.
Today ladies and gentlemen, we are doing well. There is room, of course, for amelioration. We have to continue to improve and do better. But we cannot afford to rock the boat.
I, therefore, urge all stakeholders, the private sector, civil society and Government departments and agencies alike to work closely with SIB and speak with one voice in encouraging and promoting investment in Seychelles. I urge you all to own this new brand, as new and continuous investments in our economy are essential to our survival as a nation.
I urge you in this context to always put Seychelles first. I urge you to continue winning for Seychelles!
In closing, I wish to gratefully acknowledge the participation of international financial institutions, especially the PTA Bank and ADB, together with local financial institutions in this forum. I also wish to extend my heartiest congratulations and thanks to the management and staff of SIB, and wish you every success in the promotional activities you are engaged in.
I wish you all success in your deliberations. I now have the pleasure to declare this forum open, and also to launch SIB’s new brand.