National Assembly approves Agency for Social Protection Amendment Bill 2021
Under the speakership of Deputy Speaker Gervais Henrie, the National Assembly yesterday voted to approve the Agency for Social Protection Amendment Bill (2021), which seeks to revise and amend the provisions with regards to qualifications and appointment of the board for the agency.
In presenting the amendments, Minister for Employment and Social Affairs, Patricia Francourt noted that the Agency for Social Protection Act makes provisions for the agency to be administered by a board comprising seven members, appointed by the President of the Republic.
As per the Act, the criteria for appointment stipulates that the board should comprise a representative from different ministries, namely social affairs, finance and employment, in addition to a representative from the Seychelles Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) and the civil society.
Two other members of good standing are also appointed by the President, as well as the chairperson of the board.
“On account of the restructuring in the public service, as was recently announced by the President of the Republic, and which is being implemented, this bill has the aim and objective of reorganising the ASP board and its work, to render it more efficient, effective and productive. This bill revises the criteria to permit for individuals who are chosen to form part of the board, have the necessary knowledge and competencies to ensure the proper functioning of the agency,” said Minister Francourt.
She added: “The bill proposes that members who form part of the board should be persons of integrity, and who have qualifications and experience in the domain of social protection, social affairs, public administration, audit, political science, legal affairs, finance, economics, statistics and business management.”
She went on to inform the assembly that as a consequence of the amendments to sections 6.1, 3A and B of the ASP law, existing members of the board will no longer discharge their functions, and their mandates terminated, in line with the procedures established by the law. This will be followed by the appointment of the new board, in line with the new law, to take up their positions.
A number of assembly members expressed themselves, affording their support for the bill. Hon. Sathyanarayanan Naidu, Hon. Naddy Zialor and Hon. Wavel Woodcock were among those who voiced their support.
Leader of the opposition (Loto) in the National Assembly Sebastien Pillay questioned the minister as to why board members need to have knowledge or experience in political science, highlighting the relevance in ensuring that the agency should still be accessible to the most vulnerable groups within the population, to whom the agency offers support and assistance.
For his part, leader of government business (LGB) in the National Assembly Bernard Georges affirmed that the amendments are fairly straightforward, going further to elaborate on the functions of the board.
“If we consider the functions of ASP, we will see that the board formulates standards and measures for supplementation, it will review on a quarterly basis these standards, and to establish appropriate internal measures and review the policies of the agency. The role of the board is not to allocate certain individuals assistance and to decide whether others do not qualify,” Mr Georges highlighted.
The budget for ASP for this year is 12 percent of the total national budget according to Deputy Speaker Henrie.
Minister Francourt was accompanied by ASP chief executive Brenda Morin, ASP head of compliance Julianna Auguste, and Julia Jean, legal draftsperson at the Attorney General’s Office.