Speeches

110th session of the International Labour Conference World of Work Summit - Tackling multiple global crises: Promoting human-centred recovery and resilience, 10th June 2022 - Address by the President of the Republic of Seychelles, Mr Wavel Ramkalawan

10 June 2022 | Foreign Affairs

Mr President

Excellencies 

I feel honoured and privileged to be given the opportunity to address this very important Summit at such a critical time in the world’s history.

On behalf of the people of Seychelles, I wish to congratulate the ILO for making available this platform to allow Member States, together with key partners, to discuss our experience and learn from each other.

Such a forum has become more relevant today as we all come together to share our perspective on the very fitting theme of ‘Tackling multiple global crises: Promoting human centered recovery and resilience.’   

Seychelles has had its fair share of challenges since the COVID-19 pandemic made its appearance on our shores. The situation quickly deteriorated for our small nation. Overnight the airport was closed and our tourism industry, the mainstay of our economy crashed by over 80%. Businesses struggled to keep their workers and the country’s economy found itself gasping for survival. We managed to maintain workers through a government financial stimulus to businesses coupled with brave political and economic decisions, taken at the right time to permit our fragile economy to get back on the road to recovery. 

The vaccination programme saved our country and with the opening of our economy in March 2021, the country was back on its feet.

Two years down the road, same as it is the case globally, we are still to some extent feeling its effects. With the ongoing Russia/Ukraine situation, our biggest challenge is the uncertainty as far as food costs is concerned.

As we seek to give our people a good standard of living, the price of commodities is the biggest current we are swimming against. Maintaining the balance between economic and social challenges has become an art we are struggling to master. The result of all this culminates into insecurities to the like of elevated food and energy crises causing serious inflation affecting not only Seychelles but the world over.

Therefore, while the risk of the pandemic was first and foremost health related, it was obvious that the real challenge of fiscal sustainability would be the elephant in the room. 

Government promoted a change in mindset and empowered our fellow Seychellois to join formal employment that support decent and stable work. This was to ensure that the economic costs of the pandemic were moderated, yet simultaneously managing the health risks and avoiding generational burden of the costs. I must say there was the acceptance that the overall cost of the pandemic would have been far greater without a more proactive approach. This was made possible by a substantial rise in visitor arrival, increase in labour demand, the vaccination of the population and the dedicated efforts of our health workers and our efforts in setting expectations in times of high uncertainty. Having a vision and a plan mattered. 

The global pandemic has shown how insecure jobs can be. Workers who are usually the drivers of the economy were the hardest hit. Overnight our people were worried about their future which became uncertain. Since the outbreak of the pandemic to date, we received so many applications for redundancy. On the other hand the government coffers were fast emptying, causing a further strain on welfare assistance.

Young people who normally face more challenges to secure a first job, women who interrupt their work experience due to family responsibilities and workers in precarious jobs due to a lower level of education attainment, are the frontliners who feel the inequality and adverse effects of the crisis more than others. In addition, more work is needed to be done as the pandemic has highlighted the risks and challenges of a small island state depending entirely on tourism.

Economic diversification is indeed the new message. This will not be an easy task, but one that is needed to be addressed today, which will also enable us to maintain our hard earned gains over the past decades. Therefore, how do we as leaders of the world from big or small countries, commit to lead our people to better times?

Fellow leaders, our message should be one of hope. Our actions and policies should present hope for our people, while we fight the scourges of corruption, exploitation and injustice. Seychelles attaches herself to the ILO’s commitment to such standards. Workers are at the centre of the recovery process. They must not be left out. On the contrary, they must be given prominence and protection. Such an approach is important because it means there is willingness to listen to our people’s voices. It means we commit to providing them with a future where their rights at work are protected, employment opportunities are created, access to social protection is available for all and harmonious industrial relations are promoted through social dialogue.

Let us give our youth the encouragement that they deserve and are waiting from us. I am encouraged to see that many Seychellois youths have persevered during these difficult times. One example is the jobseekers of our skills development programme, which was funded by the ILO during the Covid-19 pandemic crisis. They are today happily working or pursuing their studies further.

This is testimony that recovery from the crisis relies on partnership and networking with our multi-lateral partners. Let us pursue these in order to meet the aspirations of our people.

Chers collègues dirigeants et partenaires, durant ces deux dernières années, nous avons vécu une expérience horrifiante, c’est le moins qu’on puisse dire. Cela continuera à moins que nous n’acceptions tous de travailler ensemble en ce moment crucial dans le but de maintenir la paix afin que nous puissions nous concentrer sur la reconstruction de notre nation pour que notre peuple ait un avenir meilleur. Avec le soutien de nos partenaires, tels que l’OIT et d’autres institutions des Nations Unies, nous continuerons à croître et à renforcer notre résilience afin d’éviter toute catastrophe future qui pourrait se présenter à nous.

En conclusion, je dois dire qu’en tant que nation, le peuple seychellois a résisté admirablement à cette adversité inconcevable et je suis fier d’être devant vous aujourd’hui en tant que son chef d’État et de dire je suis persuadé que nous triompherons. Les Seychelles restent déterminées à agir pour sa population et nous nous joignons à d’autres États membres pour travailler à une économie de reprise centrée sur l’humain.

Merci bien

Thank you.

 

 


View Full Video Message via State House Website Video Gallery via link below:

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