Seychelles' former presidents will benefit less upon retirement than was previously planned after some provisions made in the proposed amendment to the Presidential Emolument Act were removed following days of debate in the National Assembly.
The Bill for the proposed amendment presented by the Vice President Vincent Meriton on Tuesday was seeking to include additional benefits for ex-presidents when they retire.
The benefits were to include financial and administrative support for an office with three members of staff, security and two cars and drivers plus payment of all vehicle and transportation costs. The proposed amendments also sought for financial assistance to cover funeral costs, gratuity on pension and pension and gratuities for 'surviving spouse'.
The previous Act stated that when a person ceased to hold the office of president he shall be paid a monthly pension payable in arrears of an amount equal to 75 percent of the monthly salary of the President. The person shall be paid at the end of each year or, where the payment for any reason ceases before the end of a year, a gratuity of an amount equal to 75 percent of the gratuity payable to the President.
Seychelles, a group of 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean, has three ex-presidents, the late James Mancham, France Albert Rene and James Michel.
Meriton said that the government is already paying for presidents' expenses, but following discussion, they have decided to have it in the law to ensure more transparency and good governance.
"Seychelles is not the first country which has taken this decision to take care of its former presidents. This is in line with the international norms and it is a fundamental measure to ensure that former president leaves in dignity," he said.
The chair of the Bills Committee in the National Assembly, Bernard Georges, that the proposed benefits would have been normal for the government to give in a normal country where presidents work for their countries in exclusion of everything else. This he said does not apply in the Seychelles context today.
The proposal was approved by the members of National Assembly -- the Seychelles' legislative body -- with an opposition majority, after further amendments through which several proposals were removed.
With the amendments, ex-presidents of Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, will get pensions and gratuity on their pensions, a vehicle and a driver, security assured by the relevant ministry and the commissioner of police. Their funeral costs have also been approved.
Mancham, who held office from 1976 to 1977, was the first president of Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean. He passed away in January at the age of 77.
Rene took over power June 5, 1977, after a coup d'état. He ruled the island nation as a socialist one-party state until 1992 when a multi-party system was introduced. Rene stood for three elections and won each one of them before stepping down in 2004 at 69 when he handed over power to James Michel.
James Michel became the president of Seychelles until October last year. Michel, 72, stepped down and handed the presidency to Danny Faure after being in power for 12 years.
This week, the National Assembly also approved another bill presented by the Vice President for a special pension for a specific group of workers, which include police officers, nurses, and teachers.
A person must be 60 years old and have contributed to the pension fund for a minimum period of 10 years or the aggregate period of 20 years prior to retirement to benefit.