Seychelles and China celebrated 40 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations between them with a reception arranged on June 10.
Vice-President Danny Faure was guest of honour at the reception hosted by the Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Seychelles, Yin Lixian, at the embassy at St Louis. Also, former President James Mancham, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Transport Joel Morgan; the Minister for Finance, Trade and the Blue Economy Jean-Paul Adam; the Minister for Investment, Entrepreneurship Development and Business Innovation Michael Benstrong; members of the National Assembly, were present at the event.
Both Ambassador Yin and Minister Morgan proposed a toast for long lasting relations between the two countries.
Ambassador Yin said that the friendship between the Chinese and Seychellois people has a long history, and the past 40 years have seen massive progress in Seychelles-China relations.
Minister Morgan said for decades on, Seychelles and China established a framework for their partnership and Seychelles is proud to still have China as a trusted partner in that respect. He said: “China is the world’s most populous nation and Seychelles one of the smallest. The meaningful engagement that our two nations share is testament to how regardless of size, we have built partnership based on a spirit of mutual respect and exemplary friendship that serves as a model for the rest of the world”.
Seychelles inflation was -1.2% year-on-year in May compared with -1.1% a month earlier, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), the statistics office, said in a statement.
Seychelles and Slovenia have agreed to push for the conclusion of a double tax agreement (DTA), during a meeting held to discuss improving bilateral relations.
Slovenia’s Ambassador, Selby Pillay, said: “Slovenia and Seychelles are connected by many attributes. As small states, we understand each other’s efforts and we would be pleased to share and exchanges experiences in the fields of environment and nature conservation and tourism.”
Following the meeting, a statement was issued to announce that the 2 jurisdictions are holding negotiations towards a DTA, which would ensure that income from cross-border trade and investment is taxed only once. It would allocate the taxing rights of both Seychelles and Slovenia; potentially reduce withholding taxes on dividends, interest, and royalties income; and would likely include tax information exchange provisions.
Same-sex acts are no longer illegal in the Republic of Seychelles, making it one of the few African countries to decriminalize the acts.
On May 18, lawmakers voted for the proposal to amend Section 151 of the country’s Penal Code that named sodomy a felony, punishable with up to 14 years in prison. Fourteen lawmakers voted in favor, others abstained, while 4 were absent.
The amendment comes 3 months after President James Michel’s national address in which he said his government would introduce a bill to abolish Section 151. Michel called the law a colonial remnant and an “aberration” in Seychelles’ “tolerant” society. He reminded the nation of Seychelles’s 2011 agreement with the UN Humans Rights Council to decriminalize homosexuality.
Religious leaders criticized his remarks, saying the proposed bill went against beliefs in this mostly Catholic country.
The government of Seychelles is ready to cooperate with the Sri Lankan government in its efforts to investigate into fraud and corruption, especially with regard to offshore bank accounts and assets in the Seychelles.
The Seychelles is already cooperating with the Sri Lankan government through the Finance Investigation Unit in Seychelles with regard to investigations into any fraud and corruption.
Seychelles Environment, Energy and Climate Change Minister Didlier Dogley said that Seychelles has signed the OECD guidelines for offshore banking to keep offshore dealings transparent. So, all information on transactions can be inspected and checked by authorized bodies. He noted that owners have to be declared for each account opened in Seychelles. Earlier in other jurisdictions, people were able to open a briefcase and didn’t have to declare ownership, while this is impossible today as all jurisdictions are reviewed. The minister said that Seychelles is “one of the countries that is clean” as it is abiding by all international rules.
The Seychelles is ready to help the Sri Lankan government in investigating fraud and corruption. “We have made sure that we are not allowing the wrong people into our country. So if there is any investigation, Seychelles will cooperate as long as it is reciprocal on both sides,” the minister added.
OECD confirms that Seychelles has appropriate Tax Data Safeguards
The confidentiality safeguards implemented within the Seychelles Revenue Commission (SRC) have been approved by an expert assessment carried out by the OECD’s Global Forum on Transparency and the Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes.
Seychelles has obtained a largely compliant rating from the Global Forum. Also, the jurisdiction has signed the Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters in 2015. To add, Seychelles opted for early adoption in 2017 of the Common Reporting Standards, the new standards in the automatic exchange of tax information (AEOI) between countries developed by the OECD.
In view of the upcoming implementation of AEOI by Seychelles, whereby it will also be able to request information from other tax authorities, the Seychelles Revenue Commission has recognized that an important aspect of the AEOI standard is that data and information it receives should be kept confidential and appropriately safeguarded from improper use and disclosure. So, other jurisdictions that provide tax data can be assured as to its future use.
The Government of Seychelles said that Global Forum experts conducted a confidentiality assessment in November 2015 and have now confirmed their endorsement of the data safeguards put in place by Seychelles.
Seychelles’ year-on-year inflation dropped to -3.2% in March from -0.6% in the previous month, the statistics office said, driven lower by a sharp fall in fish and other food prices.
Month-on-month inflation stood at -0.2% in March compared to 0% in February, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said in a statement.
Norway’s biggest bank DNB must provide a written explanation of its policy of helping clients register offshore companies in the Seychelles, the Norwegian industry minister said in a statement on April 4.
Trade and Industry Minister Monica Maeland said: “DNB says this should not have happened and that the bank should not have participated.”
The Norwegian government is the bank’s top owner with a stake of 34%. DNB’s Seychelles activities were first reported by daily Aftenposten, quoting leaked documents from Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca.
The leak involves more than 11.5 million documents from the files of the law firm, revealing details of hundreds of thousands of clients in multiple jurisdictions.
DNB said in a separate statement it regretted assisting about 40 customers in establishing the offshore companies between 2006 and 2010, and that the practice had ended.
On April 5, Seychelles parliament voted to amend the constitution and limit presidents to two 5-year terms in office, in contrast to wider Africa where many presidents have sought to extend term limits.
The jurisdiction’s nation elected James Michel as president in December 2015, giving him a 3rd term in office, but among the promises he made during his campaign was to ensure the change in the law.
The amendment required 2/3 thirds of the 32 lawmakers to vote in favour but all sitting members are from the ruling party except opposition leader David Pierre, who also supported the change. Pierre said that this amendment will give a chance to younger politicians to wait 10 years instead of 15, in order to contribute to the development of the Seychelles.
The new amendment will come into force at the next elections, when the incumbent president and vice president will not qualify to run for these positions.
According to the statement following an International Monetary Fund (IMF) staff mission to the Seychelles from March 9-22, the anti-poverty initiatives mentioned in last month’s State of the Nation Address need to be counteracted by other measures.
In his State of the Nation Address, the President Michel disclosed that, as well as minimum wage and pension increases, changes will be made from July 2016 to the personal income tax system, aimed to make it more progressive and reduce the tax burden on low-income earners.
At the conclusion of the IMF’s visit to conduct discussions on the 4th review under the Extended Fund Facility (EFF) arrangement with the Seychelles, the mission noted that, while the economy performed positively in 2015, “slowing growth or recession in a number of key tourism markets could weigh on economic developments in 2016.”
At the end of the IMF’s third EFF review, in January 2016, the International Monetary Fund had concluded that “continued fiscal discipline will be a critical anchor for macroeconomic stability.” It was confirmed that fiscal policy in 2016 continued to target a primary surplus of 3.8% of GDP (gross domestic product). However, the Fund’s latest mission estimated that the newly announced measures “would entail substantial fiscal costs – around three percent of GDP on a full-year basis.” It concluded that “it is important that policies to ensure that the economic benefits from years of strong fiscal consolidation are shared more widely do not undermine macroeconomic stability. The mission therefore recommends that [the new measures] be accompanied by offsetting measures to avoid putting pressure on the balance of payments, inflation, and public debt.”
In that respect, immediately following the IMF mission, the Central Bank of Seychelles (CBS) took steps to reduce the excess liquidity within the monetary system. After analyzing the recent measures announced by the Government of the Seychelles, CBS was counteracting an expected increase in liquidity and demand for foreign currency in the coming months.
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