NAIROBI, Jan 14 (Reuters) - Seychelles is struggling to raise funds to pay public workers and the government plans to raise $212 million to plug its budget deficit, the finance minister has said.
Seychelles' economy is heavily dependent on tourism and the sector was hard hit in 2020 by COVID-19 that led to travel restrictions worldwide to contain the virus's spread.
Finance Minister Naadir Hassan was quoted as saying on the Seychelles News Agency that the government's financial situation was dire.
"Since the start of the year the amount of money in the government's coffer, from which it makes all of its expenses, has been zero or in the negative," he said.
Hassan said the $212 million the government planned to raise was part of a $566 million budget, and it was also looking for ways to cut unnecessary spending.
The government was trying to restructure its external debt, he said.
The International Monetary Fund said last year that travel restrictions imposed due to the global COVID-19 pandemic meant that the Seychelles economy was forecast to contract by 13.8% in 2020.
"The most important thing now is to put food on the table, it is all about survival now. As a nation we need to show solidarity towards one another," Hassan said.
The Indian Ocean archipelago has 612 confirmed coronavirus cases and one death, according to a Reuters tally. (Reporting by George Obulutsa; editing by Omar Mohammed and Angus MacSwan)