THE SEYCHELLES BORDERS HAVE BEEN RE-OPENED DUE TO THE OVERNMENT’S PERCEIVED SUCCESS ON THE COVID-19 VACCINATION CAMPAIGN WHICH IS ONGOING.
All businesses have been resumed subject to the “new normal” and continue to operate under the strict guidance of the Department of Health. Notably, since the arrival of tourists back into the country since March 2021, the economy had slowly started to recover, with the Seychelles Rupee quickly gaining strength against the major trading currencies. The Central Bank of Seychelles (CBS) is still keeping a close eye on the economic activities and the foreign exchange market, as at the moment, according the CBS the supply of foreign exchange into the country continues to exceed demand. However, due to a recently high record of Covid-19 positive cases recorded in Seychelles, the CDC has recently placed the Seychelles on the high level 4 alert and discouraging anyone from travelling to Seychelles until further notice.
The Financial Services Authority (FSA) being the Registrar for International Business Companies (IBCs) and Regulator for offshore business has reverted to providing all of its usual services during business hours. The FSA is still continuing to encourage the use of digital modes of communication for the conduct of certain transactions such as the submission of documents for filing and settling of payments.
1. Filings - normal services
The FSA the Registrar has reverted to its normal services. Filings in respect of IBCs or other offshore entities, including filings of Charges for Registration over assets of IBCs are being carried out as normal.
Registrar of Companies (RoC) – the RoC has also reverted back to its normal working hours for all filing services. However, there are still delays occasioned due to the strict health requirements and restrictions internally at the offices of the RoC. To note that certain amendments to the Companies Act 1972 came into effect and there is now a new Seventh Schedule (replacing the old one) in respect of filing costs under the Companies (Amendment of Seventh Schedule) Order 2020 (New Regulations).
2. Can Searches be conducted? - normal services
Searches can be conducted from the FSA and Certificates of Official Search issued within the normal expected time of delivery.
Physical file searches have now resumed at RoC but under strict guidelines and Certificates of Official Search are available for domestic companies upon application but for an increased cost under the New Regulations.
The Court Registrar has resumed its litigation search services as normal.
3. Certificates of good standing (CGS) - normal services
CGS for IBCs is available from the FSA as usual – these can be commissioned by e-mail to FSA and physical collection of the CGS must be arranged by the applicant.
CGS for domestic companies is now also available by application for an increased cost under the New Regulations – application must be made in person at the RoC Office and thereafter when the CGS is ready physical collection of the CGS must be arranged by the applicant.
4. Other searches – open with restrictions
No other applicable company search is available in the Seychelles; other than land searches and the Land Registrar’s office is open and physical search of files are being permitted under strict guidance and which is very time consuming given the excessive waiting time; the Land Registrar continues to issue Certificates of Official Search on land upon request.
5. Court sessions and position (including filings and hearings) - normal services
The Registrar of the Supreme Court of Seychelles has resumed all its normal services but Court attendances remain subject to restrictions under the Department of Health guidance.
Those who need to attend the Court Registrar’s office are subject to strict health guidelines (as approved by the Ministry for Health) which had already been put in place in May 2020. The guidelines outline the policy for the amended practices in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The priority of all service providers in the legal system is to ensure the reduction of the likelihood of contracting the Covid-19 virus through the implementation of best practice standards, including: (a) Promoting good levels of personal safety and hygiene for clients and employees; (b) Ensuring the maintaining of safe social distances; (c) The protection of vulnerable clients and employees; and (d) Encouraging and adopting technologies to reduce the need for gatherings.
6. Any travel restrictions - open with restrictions
- The international airport has been re-opened from March 2021 for all commercial flights in line with the guidance issued by the Department of Health. However, Seychellois are still being discouraged from travelling abroad for the time being and to travel only if essential, e.g for urgent medical treatments.
- Due to a recently high record of Covid-19 positive cases recorded in Seychelles, the CDC has recently placed the Seychelles on the high level 4 alert and discouraging anyone from travelling to Seychelles until further notice.
- The Courier services, namely DHL and FeDex are operating as normal but there may be still delays in deliveries in and out of Seychelles.
The Department of Health periodically publishes updates on the Covid-19 situation in the country and it is advisable to check their website for the current travelling requirements before travelling.
At the moment there is a restriction on travellers from India, Bangladesh and Pakistan due to the increased rate of infections in those countries.
The Seychelles authorities continue to exercise strict medical surveillance which have been put in place to detect any new Covid-19 cases and take the necessary steps needed to contain the virus. With these 3 pillars: (1) strict border controls, (2) rigorous contact tracing and (3) testing, they will continue to minimise risks and keep the situation under control.
7. Other Temporary Regulatory Measures
General Measures in place at the moment:
Although there is no official “lockdown” in the country, certain restrictions on the movement of people within the country are still in force. E.g workers are still being encouraged to work from home where possible, social gatherings are restricted and only permissible by permission from the Ministry of Health under strict guidance.
Private Sector Relief Scheme
The Central bank of Seychelles (CBS) has established a Private Sector Relief Scheme (financed by the CBS for assistance to eligible micro, small and medium business (MSMEs) facing financial difficulties due to the Covid-19 pandemic financial crisis. The Private Sector Relief Scheme is to assist the MSMEs meet their critical expenditures such as rent, utilities, salaries, taxes and good and services contract to the extent not covered under other public measures put in place by the Government. The credit facilities shall be granted for a maximum period of 3 year term, including a 6 months moratorium of the loan repayment, with an interest rate of 1.5 per annum.
Employment law amendments
The Ministry of Labour is continuing to keep a close eye on the employment market and ensuring that employers comply with the new employment regulations under the Employment (Amendment) Act 2020. There is an effort on the Ministry of Labour for the prioritisation of employment of Seychellois workers who have been made redundant over the employment of expatriate workers. As a result the requirements for Gainful Occupation Permit (GOP) application by local employers to employ non-Seychellois workers has become more stringent.