President Wavel Ramkalawan and his cabinet have made the decision to shut down the Unemployment Relief Scheme.

The decision has come three days after President Ramkalawan has stated in his first state-of-the-nation address last Friday before the Nation Assembly that the Unemployment Relief Scheme (URS) should remain temporary and all efforts should be made by the Ministry of Employment and Social Affairs to make sure that those on the scheme find temporary employment.

The decision to shut down the URS was announced in a press conference yesterday by the director general for employment promotion, Letimie Dookley.

At the end of the month everyone who was benefiting from URS will be given their monthly allowance of R7,056. However in February this will be cut down to R3,500 which will be the final cheque given under the scheme because when the clock strikes midnight on February 28 that will mark the end of the scheme.

The URS has existed for years in the country, however it was revamped in 2018 as the agency felt they could help those just getting out of prison, those with disabilities, drug addicts seeking treatments and those on welfare who were actively looking for employment.

“In 2020 at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic we decided to extend the scope of people seeking assistance as we saw many were losing their jobs, and this continued well into 2021,” said the director general.

She further noted that between January 2020 and May 2020 there were over 300 people where were benefiting from the scheme, however between June until December there was a huge increase from 300 to over 1,000 which cost the government R12.3 million per month, but the total number of people on the URS was 5,414.

“At that time we felt that it was important to assist those people as they had just lost their jobs. This was done on the condition that they would seek employment elsewhere and get assistance from the scheme,” said Mrs Dookley.

She further added that 1,790 people were getting an allowance from URS.

“The scheme is a transitory scheme as the person should be actively looking for permanent employment while on it,” she added.

Mrs Dookley remarked that 955 people who were on URS have found permanent employment, while 215 have become self-employed through training received, and many are working part-time or casual.

“There are many opportunities when it comes to employment, but sadly we have seen that some are not making that effort to seek employment. We have also seen circumstances where we have given some people employment but they have refused,” she noted.

She added that even though the programme will cease to exist, those who were on it will remain in the system at the employment department and they will be given assistance in finding another job.

She further added that they also must take their responsibility and look for a job even if the employment department is assisting them.

The director general added that they are working closely with employers by helping them create adverts for their vacancies as well as providing them with people who meet the criteria of the positions they are advertising.

“There are many jobs in Seychelles right now; it might not be the one you want for the time being but it’s still a job,” she explained.

She also added that they are also working on the gainful occupation permit (GOP) framework which will allow some Seychellois to replace foreign workers in some positions.

She said that there will also be re-skilling programmes conducted by the department of employment to give employees the necessary baggage to seek employment.

Christophe Zialor