The 13th month salary – A bit like the perfect man.

Imagine the perfect man – funny, smart, good-looking, sweet and a beast in bed. For anyone laughing at this, I will point out that I did not say point him out, I said imagine. Jokes aside, the perfect man comes to mind in the midst of a 13th month salary discussion which has been an on-going issue in Seychelles for a while.

I am actually unsure where this idea came from. There are two opposing political giants currently in Seychelles and from the bits that I have picked up along the way, both sides have claimed ownership of the idea and given the purpose of this blog, I do not care to investigate it. Whatever. It has been and continues to remain, as far as my own personal logic dictates, a political tool to get people’s votes. Fine.

What has shocked me though and subsequently pushed me to write this, is the reaction of so many people when the assembly did not (initially) pass the bill. Frustration, anger, disappointment – I get all of it. Don’t get me wrong, the joy of an additional salary during the most expensive month of the year, is as clear as day. No one can ever say they wouldn’t be happy with it. But, to just blatantly refuse to try and understand why businesses are up in arms about the idea and to find it as a great betrayal of the ‘side’ which opposed it (again, initially), got me thinking about why is the 13th salary such an important factor in life’s equation for us Seychellois.

Let me get back to the perfect man. Being in my 30’s now, I realise one thing; I will never know everything I need to know about men and issues which arise in our relationships with them. There is however, one lesson I repeatedly continue to learn in my own life’s journey and that is, I have to make me happy. I am responsible for my health, for pursuing my dreams, for the clothing size I want to wear, for learning more about the world, for my peace – and so on and so on. I have to read, exercise, find me-time, dance in front of my mirror and drink my lemon water every morning. I am the basket where all my eggs lay. My husband is a great addition to the life I create for myself. Yes, together we build on what each other has, but I am and remain an individual who has made it and can make it on my own. If I am ever asked to give a woman any piece of advice it would be this; be the best version of yourself you can possibly be. When you do that, your reliance on a man reduces. He does not become your world but rather a great companion or addition in your world. If his absence brings your life to a halt, there is something wrong with your life, or more specifically, the way you have been living it.

The 13th salary is somewhat similar to this. If people were depending on this to achieve certain goals, then clearly, there is something wrong with the numbers printed on their pay checks at the end of every month. The salary a person earns should be enough for basic needs, enough for a loan to build a home or a business, enough to save to travel, enough for their child’s education (and no, I do not necessarily mean private school – an aquarium annual membership, books to read, football or swimming clubs memberships – are all part of a child’s growth which parents need to invest in). All of this (to various extents obviously) should be possible with the salaries we take home. The 13th bonus salary should be something which allows us to upgrade perhaps on any of the choices we have to make come December. If all of these are not possible with our monthly salaries, then something somewhere is wrong. The salaries themselves? Our understanding of how to spend? Our drive to save? Our interest in investment? I don’t have the answer, but for sure, something somewhere is not right.

A re-look at the country’s entire salary system and subsequent cost of living (from food to bank interest rates) and our tax regime, in my opinion, would have a longer and more substantial effect on how we live our lives than an annual bonus.

 

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