Mr Speaker,
The stage of development we have reached today makes it even more imperative that land in Seychelles is well managed, and well utilized. We have to eliminate speculation. We also have to ensure that our land remains a legacy and heritage for Seychellois. With this aim in mind we will introduce certain measures that will ensure more rigorous management of State land, in the way it is sold and leased, the conditions under which foreigners may own land in Seychelles, without discouraging investment.

Many Seychellois have benefited from the purchase or lease of State land, either through the Land Bank Scheme or through the creation of industrial and commercial plots. Unfortunately, many of these plots have not been developed, even after many years. One of the main reasons for this is speculation — the possibility of making a huge profit from the sale of land which they had obtained cheaply from government. The situation is aggravated by the acquisition of these plots of land by foreigners through corporate bodies or Seychellois nominees who represent foreigners.

Government is reviewing the State Land and Rivers Act to ensure that — with a few minor exceptions, such as in cases of exchange of land with the State — individuals who are not Seychellois citizens will no longer be allowed to buy State land freehold. The same principle will apply to privately owned land.  Foreigners will no longer be allowed to buy properties freehold but they may be permitted a long-term non-renewable lease of 70 years.

However, as part of the objective of attracting foreign direct investment, we will maintain our policy regarding development and investment in villas in tourism resorts.

Under the new regulations government will offer an amnesty to all foreigners who acquired immovable properties through nominee companies, or through Seychellois nominees who covered for them through share transfers, to regularize their situations within a year of the law coming into effect.  If they do not do so, Government will reserve the right to repossess the land. Our aim is to close loopholes in procedures that can be exploited to bypass sanction procedures, and for unlawful acquisition of land by foreigners.