Category Archives: Political & Economic

Proportional Representation: A Post-mortem Analysis

Someone rightly said: “Experience is the best teacher.” The outcome of the recent regional elections in Rodrigues has a lot to offer in terms of whether the PR (proportional representation) system in its actual form does real justice to the parties and the candidates who actually stood for the elections. The euphoria of the overwhelming victory has quickly been overshadowed by confusion and frustration on the winning side, while the distress of the defeated party, on the other hand, has been patched up with the allocation of five additional seats.
Serge Clair, leader of the OPR, expressed his concern over not being allocated any additional seats based on PR. He went even further with the grudge that the gap between his party and the opposition, which was eight just after the poll results, has been narrowed down to three after the allocation of PR seats to the opposition. Indeed he has a claim, but the law is such that there’s nothing he can do about it in the foregoing.
Conversely, Nicolas Von Mally, leader of the MR, said it was only legitimate that his party be allocated the additional five seats based on the formula adopted by the Electoral Commission in conformity with the legal provisions.

 

But the problem of the PR does not stop at these controversial stands. The issue is pertinent to the party that has got lesser number of returned candidates as it is to the winning one. It is still more pertinent, in my view, to the candidates themselves, especially those who have not been returned. The system doesn’t seem to do justice to candidates who had struggled hard to canvass people and who have not been able to get elected, some with a low margin, while those in the PR party list have found their way to the RRA without, so to say, substantial effort. So far so good. There’s nothing illegitimate in that. It’s the system. We need to abide.
The PR system has been introduced to restore balance between the winning party and the unsuccessful one. It’s a good form of checks and balances for democracy in aiming at preventing the route to dictatorship with an absolute majority. Democracy seems to function better when there are matching forces. So the PR system proves to be useful in making appropriate adjustments towards this end. The formula adopted is excellent in bringing the right balance.
Opinions and remarks are being voiced out from various quarters through the social media regarding the pertinence of the system. The people are getting more and more concerned in trying to understand the working of such system. It may appear simple and complicated at the same time. It’s not the aim of this article to probe into the mathematics of the system.
The system, as it is, seems to be discriminatory towards candidates who actually stood for the elections. Why stand for an election when you can have a seat without doing so, in particular if it may, rightly or wrongly, be anticipated that the party has a lesser chance of forming the “government”? This is a question that requires some attention and has a direct bearing on those in the PR party list.
I am not making any insinuations, but let’s figure out the following scenario. The PR party list candidates may not put in the required effort; worse, they may even campaign against their own party (although this is unethical – well, after all what is ethics in politics?) to ensure there is minimum number of elected candidates within their party so that they in turn can secure a seat through the PR. (The more the number of elected candidates in a party the lesser the chance of a candidate in that PR party list to be nominated and vice versa).

 

Such scenario was reported to have happened in previous elections. It’s very unfair towards those who stood as candidates, struggled hard in the field attempting to convince people to vote for them (with all the risks associated when faring in hostile grounds). These unreturned candidates find themselves outside the assembly (in “carreau cane” as we say in the Mauritian jargon or “dans bois” in the Rodriguan jargon). Don’t forget that the winner today may be the defeated tomorrow. There’s no room for complacency.
My intention is not to question the system out of the blue. I have no problem with the nominees of party list (congratulations for those nominated). It’s not a question of the “persons” in the list; rather the list itself. My concern is the “source” for the allocation of additional seats. The party list does not seem to be a fair source. It may be fraught with the issues highlighted earlier. The choice would appear fairer, in my opinion, if the allocation were made among the best losers.
It appears that we are confronted with a situation that seems to be unfair. If matters can improve for the betterment of democracy there’ll be no reason to make a creak. I’m just putting it to the political and electoral gurus to give some thought to such scenarios, most often than not unpredictable, with a view to coming up with a fairer and more equitable framework that will do better justice to those who are actually in the forefront of the battle field. I am of the considered view that the allocation of seats on the system of PR needs to take on board best losers. In other words, a system of PR based on BLS (best loser system). Remember it’s not a question of community or ethnic belonging here. It’s purely national.
“L’intérêt national doit primer” as they say.

Alfa King Memories

Results of RRA Elections

Finally the results are out. The OPR has won a landslide victory with the election of 10 candidates in five constituencies, namely 2 to 6. The MR could only secure the election of two candidates in constituency number 1 by a low margin. Since the first partial results it was clear that the OPR was heading towards an unprecedented victory.

However, the gap between the two parties has been decreased by the allocation of five additional seats to the MR on the basis of proportional representation. So in all the OPR will have 10 and the MR 7 members in the RRA.

In all probability Serge Clair will keep the position of Chief Commissioner, while Nicolas Von Mally will be the new Minority Leader.

The composition of the Executive will be known shortly with the appointment of commissioners.

Alfa King Memories

Day of Poll in Rodrigues

80.19% of the total number of registered electors accomplished their civic rights today. Although this figure is slightly less than that of the previous elections held in 2012 it augurs a good sign as regards the interest of voters at the regional elections as affirmed by the leaders. As early as 06.00 am voters proceeded to their respective polling stations to vote for their preferred candidates.

Supporters of the two main parties gathered side by side, or at places opposite to each other just outside the 200 m boundary. They were dancing and singing all along in mutual respect at the tune of “nou pou coule ti bato” (“we’ll sink the boat” – the boat being the symbol of the MR party) by the OPR group, and “nou pou balyer OPR” (“we’ll sweep away the OPR”) by the MR group. This forms part of the typical Rodriguan folklore during elections.

At the close of the poll the ballot boxes were transported under strict security to the main polling stations of each of the six constituencies. The authorities were satisfied with the good conduct of the elections. The Leaders of the main parties expressed their confidence as to the results that are expected around mid-day tomorrow.

Whether it will be an OPR or an MR led Regional Assembly, Rodrigues will be subjected to another five-year mandate towards realization of the objectives set in the respective electoral programmes.

Alfa King Memories

Election Time in Rodrigues

After a little more than one month of intense electoral campaign, electors in Rodrigues (an island about 650 kms to the east of Mauritius and forming part of the Republic of Mauritius, but with a distinct form of regional government) will be called upon to vote for members of the Rodrigues Regional Assembly (RRA) on Sunday 12 February 2017. Such election takes place every five years.

The party having the majority of elected members will form the “government” headed by a Chief Commissioner and various Commissioners. While the party with a lesser number of returned candidates will be in the opposition headed by a Minority Leader. The RRA meets usually at Port Mathurin, conducting its meeting in the same manner as Parliament with a Chairperson (not necessarily an elected member) assuming the role of Speaker.

The main parties had rallied their supporters on Thursday 9 February. The OPR (Organisation du Peuple Rodriguais), headed by Serge Clair, the actual Chief Commissioner, had convened its people at Malabar in the central part of the island, while the MR (Mouvement Rodriguais) headed by Nicolas Von Mally (ex-Minister), met at Mourouk near the seaside.

Each party claims to have gathered a greater number of people around their electoral manifesto containing their vision for the development of the island. The MR is calling for a change with the motto “Ler sanzman fine arriver” (It’s time for change) while the OPR is reiterating another mandate to allow them to continue with their so called ongoing development programme.

Except for some minor isolated cases of clashes between supporters of adversarial parties (which form part of the electoral folklore) no major incident is to be deplored, fortunately. Resources have been supplied by mainland Mauritius to ensure the smooth running of the election.

Security has been reinforced to minimise incidents as far as is reasonably practicable. A broadcast station has been established at Les Cocotiers Hotel to relay timely news and videos in addition to the local MBC station at Citronelle. The Electoral Commissioner has given strict instructions to ensure all related exercises are carried out at their best.

Electors are invited to exercise their rights by casting their votes in all confidentiality. The counting of votes will be effected on Monday 13 and allocation of additional seats on the basis of proportional representation will be done at 06.00 pm on same day, as announced by the Electoral Commissioner.

The last RRA elections were held in February 2012.

 

Alfa King Memories

Mumbai’s 9/11

As I write the death of one of our fellow-countrymen makes the local news headlines. He is one of the victims of the cold-blooded killings at Taj Hotel in Mumbai on Thursday last. As bank chief executive he was on official mission in India.

 

His wife who had accompanied him was luckier. She had left her room for the business centre when terrorists perpetrated attacks in the hotel. She was immediately brought to safer locations while her husband was still in his room. They exchanged a last phone conversation at around 11.30 am Indian time. No news since then until she was called to identify his corpse.

 

We also learned that the anti-terrorist chief in India was shot dead in an encounter. Several innocent people are reported dead following gun fires and bomb blasts. The target seems to be clear. Hotels like Taj and Oberoi are known to lodge high profile international travelers.

 

Attacks like this one reminds us of the September 11, 2001 episode of the twin towers in New York. The world is becoming ever more insecure. Terrorists seem to be everywhere and they can strike any time. No country can be said to be safe.

 

Is there any means we can identify and annihilate such moves? Can anybody find out why terrorism strikes? Is there a terrorism profile? How is it that the security services are not privy until the terror has occurred? We always have to indulge in fire fighting. Can the world come up with effective prevention strategies?

 

These and many other questions still haunt the minds of all people around the world. As silly as it might appear I am tempted to ask whether terrorists are human beings. Any human being worthy of his name cannot commit such cold-blooded killings without any particular motives. If there are motives, what they?

 

May be if we can go down to the source of these motives we might come up with some sort of explanation. And only then can we find possible means to bring terrorist attacks to a halt once for all. It’s not a one-person concern. Every body should be in as an anti-terrorist ambassador. Remember terrorists do not discriminate. Their hands are always on the trigger. They hit; and they hit hard. They kill. They act like robots.

 

 

Mauritius Adopts Summer Time

At 2.00 am on Sunday 26 October this year the clocks in Mauritius read 3.00 am. The country stepped into the summer time concept practiced in many countries. Government aims primarily to save on energy costs as it expects a reduction in the demand of electricity supply at peak hour in the evening. This measure will last until 2.00 am on 29 March 2009 and it is said to be on a pilot basis.

The introduction of this measure however didn’t go without controversial voices from various quarters. Will the electricity charges go down in real terms? What will happen to those religious beliefs that attach special importance on birth dates and specific prayer times? Will it not impact negatively on the health of people with a disturbance in the circadian rhythm? These and many other questions are still not clear in the minds of the common people for whom it means no more that getting up earlier in the morning.

Mauritius has its own specificity with a diversity of cultural heritage. In the absence of prior study on the real impacts of this new system we will have to wait for the answers at the end of summer time. Let’s hope the government comes up with a comprehensive feedback on the practical implications of this innovation to find out whether these are in consonance with the main objective. Only then can it come up with a definite stand on the implementation of such measure in the future.

It’s worth mentioning that such measure was implemented for the first time in the history of Mauritius in 1982 when the MMM-PSM alliance won all the seats at the national elections. A spokesman who was Minister of Energy at that time said in a radio broadcast last week that it did indeed bring about a decrease in the electricity demand by 5% which was quite conclusive in his opinion.

An Overall View of the PRB Report

You might by now be thinking this guy’s pocket’s full, now that the PRB report 2008 has been released and its recommendations are about to be implemented as from July. Alfa King has surely quit blogging. He’s busy counting the extra rupees and cents he’ll earn as from next month. Why should he bother writing on the net when he’s got a better package? Well, if that’s what’s in your mind, think again.

The couple of thousands of rupees more will not make the average public sector employee any richer. Blogging is a passionate hobby for me. It’s not always easy to keep to a fixed schedule, especially when you have a full time job. If I’ve been absent for a while it’s because I had a lot to do with official commitments and hosting visitors. I’ll talk a little more about these in my next post.

The PRB report 2008 has only granted a graduated increase in salary to all civil servants and employees of the para-tatal bodies. Except for chief executives and very senior government officials, who are a selected few and whose salary packages have been literally doubled in a gesture to prevent drain as they say, middle and lower income groups have had an increase based mostly on loss of purchasing power since the last report in 2003. With an average increase of 25 to 30% and taking into account this year’s CPI increase of no less than 8%, the increase in real terms is in dilute amount.

There’s no denial. Some conditions have been slightly improved – the increase in the number of cumulative sick leaves and vacation leaves, and the appreciation of certain allowances. But new conditions have been attached as well. The public sector employee will have to contribute for their pension; they’ll have to work up to 65; they’ll have to put up to 38 1/3 years of service in order to qualify for a full pension. However, those already in service as at June 2008 will continue enjoying the conditions hitherto governing their employment.

The grant of annual increase is no longer automatic. The report emphasises the need to relate pay with performance. All increments should be earned. All government departments are required to implement a performance appraisal system to be fully operational in 2010. Emphasis has been laid on staff development and training as an integral part in the performance management system and the report recommends between 40 to 60 hours of training per employee per year. This will enable a better allocation and management of human resources.

This is only a highlight of the major recommendations of the report which aims at “transforming public sector organisations into modern, professional and citizen-friendly entities with competent, committed and performance oriented personnel dedicated to the service of the citizen”. If most public sector employees display a satisfactory mood, there are many who believe that the salary revision exercise was a means to introduce new conditions. It was a give-and-take exercise. Much of the extra earnings will go back to the treasury in the form of taxes. Have you forgotten the NRPT? Well, check whether you fall into it now, if you weren’t previously.

Government has a different stance – it’s a very costly endeavour. The cost of implementation of the report will be twice that of the previous one. Initially scheduled to be implemented in two phases, 75% from July 2008 and the full amount in July 2009, the report will now be implemented in toto this year as “it’s the Prime Minister’s wish” as announced in the national budget speech by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance on 6 June last. As if decisions are taken according to the mood of the Premier. But for the average people Government has the capacity to pay although it’ll have to disburse some Rs 4.5 billions.

Private sector employees are now claiming their share. If the national cake has become bigger they have contributed to it too and they should benefit from a similar increase in their salaries and wages, they say. Many people tend to forget that the Pay Research Bureau deals with review of salary and grading structures in the public sector only. Whereas the National Remuneration Board (NRB) caters for the private sector and reports periodically, as does the PRB, not necessarily within the same time frame.

As you can see the situation has become more competitive. A higher standard of commitment, responsibility and performance is expected of the public sector employee. He’s got to be more proactive and live up to the modern exigencies. Incremental credits have been recommended for top performers.

Let’s hope that the conditions are implemented in a just and equitable manner so that those who deserve to be rewarded are indeed recognised and that blue-eyed political pariahs do not find their way in.

NRPT – the agony of taxpayers

As the tax accounting year is approaching, people are getting more and more apprehensive. This year a new system is being introduced. If quite a good number of income tax payers will be waived from the list, those who’d remain may have another sword of Damocles on their head. They’ll be held accountable for what wasn’t previously.

Those who’ve been pooling their savings over the years to ensure better comfort in later days and to acquire and build residential premises for their own and their families’ well being will have to declare these and “give” a percentage to government. As if you have no right to own what you own.

This year will witness the introduction of the NRPT, the National Residential Property Tax – some have nicknamed it Navin Ramgoolam Property Tax after the current Prime Minister’s name, as it’s his government that’s come up with this new concept in the country. The section of the income tax return form relating to NRPT will require taxpayers whose annual revenue exceeds Rs 385 000 to declare the extent of property they own: housing, apartments or bungalows. For personal residential purposes the amount of tax payable is Rs 10 per square meter of land area. For apartments the rate will be Rs 30 per square meter of floor area of the building. Such tax will, however, not be applicable to residential land where there’s no construction.

Political and social factions are organizing resistance in an effort to counteract the implementation of this measure. The trade union organizations have also joined hands to call for civil disobedience. They argue the NRPT is anti-constitutional in the sense that it goes against the constitutional right of private land ownership.

Government cannot at the stroke of a pen declare a private property a national property,” says one of the spokesmen of the group. “The new measure seems to make of the owner a tenant in that he has to pay for owning and occupying a residential area, which he has acquired at the sweat of several years or even a lifetime of sacrifice after securing endless loans and acquitting themselves of the registration fees. They are already overburdened with repayments.

Since the announcement of this measure in the last budget presentation, the resistance group entered a case in court and is awaiting judgment. Up to now they say the respondent (the government) hasn’t filed its defense. Until and unless the case is heard and determined the group believes it’s unfair to go ahead with the NRPT. As the forms are already on their way to the taxpayers, the group requests all concerned not to fill in the section relating to NRPT mentioning in the relevant space “awaiting court judgment”.

Bank interest is another headache this year. It will be chargeable. Banks have already sent out or are currently sending interest statements to individual account holders. Tax on interest will be charged at 15% on the amount accrued during the year. For bank deposits exceeding Rs 2 M there’ll be a deduction at source, meaning the banks will automatically deduct the amount payable and credit it to the Mauritius Revenue Authority (MRA), the authority responsible for the collection and management of taxes.

Taxpayers will not be allowed to claim any deductions as before except for their dependents. A dependent is clearly defined as spouse, or child under 18 years of age or child over 18 but receiving university education or undergoing training or unemployed or unemployable due to certain handicaps. Previously you could deduct for any other dependent, for interests payable on loans, for premiums on personal life policies and for expenses in relation to self education. These have been chopped from the list; taxpayers will be classified into four categories of income exemption thresholds, A, B, C and D.

Those with total yearly income of Rs 215 000 and without any dependent will fall in A. Category B will include those with yearly income of Rs 325 000 and having one dependent provided the exempt income of the latter does not exceed Rs 110 000. C will group those earning Rs 385 000 yearly and having two dependents at charge provided the exempt income of the second dependent is less than Rs 60 000. While D will take on board those whose yearly income is Rs 425 000 and have three dependents but the exempt income of the third dependent should not be more than Rs 40 000.

The latest date of filing income tax returns is 30 September.

Note: 1 USD = Rs 31; 1 GBP= Rs 62; 1 EURO= Rs 42. (approx)

China-Mauritius cooperation – another milestone

Our Prime Minister’s visit to China during the last week has given a new dimension to the cooperation between the two countries. China has agreed to advance a credit of Rs 3.5 billions (around 50 million USD) over the next three years. “This agreement is of major significance to Mauritius,” said the PM, “as it marks China’s commitment towards Mauritius in this period of transition.”

The PM cherished the nearly trebled Chinese assistance compared to Rs 400 million (around 6 million USD) per year obtained previously.

This financial assistance will be vital in realizing a number of projects related to infrastructural development, which will include the construction of a fishing port, a new dam, a new link road from Verdun (village around the centre) to Terre Rouge (northern village near Port Louis) and a new town at Highlands (near the centre).

Other outcomes of the PM’s visit to the People’s Republic of China comprise promises for massive investment. Already one major group of companies, Shanxi Tianli Enterprises Group, has laid its footprints on the island with significant investment potential. The implantation of this group has necessitated the relocation of several small planters who earned their living for decades on the agricultural plot of land identified for allocation to the group.

In this period of difficult economic situation, with rising cost of living, opportunities like those from China and the discovery of potential hydrothermal sources in the territorial waters of Mauritius (which I mentioned yesterday) can only herald better days ahead. Provided they are managed judiciously.

Financial Planning Blog

Just been listed in the Carnival of Financial Planning – July 12, 2007 Edition. This carnival as stated in the blog “focuses on efficient and sustainable personal financial planning practices that can lead to lifetime financial security”.

You’ll find posts about a wide range of finance issues from budgeting, debt management, estate planning, financial planning, financing a home, financing education, income, investing, retirement planning to savings and taxes.

Have a look and enjoy.

Sweet and Sour

The Mauritian Finance Minister delivered his budget speech on Friday 15 June. It was his second speech since the “social alliance” (comprising multiple political parties including the Labour party, Parti Mauricien Xavier Duval, Mouvement Republicain, Mouvement Socialiste Democrate and Parti Mauricien Social Democrate) is in power.

He depicted a sound economic management under his ministership, which has resulted in an “early harvest” (meaning early economic recovery) thanks to his so-called bold measures taken last year. He even announced duty remissions on certain electronic devices used mainly by women: hair driers, utensil washing machines, microwave ovens and others.

People were still recuperating when five days later, on 20 June, they ended up in the hypers… only to witness soaring prices of some basic commodities, namely milk – all brands. Some brands which had disappeared from the stalls just before the budget day reappeared out of magic. The price of rice soared too. These rises were explained by “external factors” (appreciation of foreign exchange, drought in Australia, etc), an argument the common people swallowed although somewhat bitter.

Intense parliamentary debates followed the speech during two weeks. They were centered on the foreign direct investments which herald to some extent the “early harvest” as propounded by the minister in spite of contradictory arguments brought by the opposition team. Several questions arose, while members of the government, as could obviously be anticipated, took sides of their colleague minister and defended his policies and strategies with vehemence. “The 2007-2008 budget wouldn’t have been possible without the 2006-2007 (last year’s) budget,” chimed the minister. All to sum up a good budget year ahead, much to the satisfaction of the common people.

The debates ended on Friday last, that is on 29 June. Today it was time for the Automatic Pricing Mechanism panel to deliberate on the price of petroleum products. This panel meets on a quarterly basis to readjust the price of petroleum, no more than 20% change based on current world trend. Guess what? It announced an increase in the price of petrol and fuel oil by about 20%; while diesel increased by about 5%. External factors again (Middle East crisis, strike in Nigeria, high price in the world market), was the explanation given by the Chairman of the State Trading Corporation, the body that imports petroleum products.

Whatever the reason, the public has to pay… or perish. The cascade effects are yet to be anticipated. You can never know how sour a pill is until all the sweet coating is sucked up.

Budget Day

It was “budget day” today; the presentation of the national budget for the year 2007-2008. It’s a tradition now to have it live on TV and radio. So I rushed back home after work. I didn’t want to miss it. Nobody seemed either as the traffic was particularly jammed this afternoon. I managed to make it just in time. It was exactly 4.30 pm when I set my feet at the doorstep. Sarah had already switched on the TV. I could hear the national anthem nearly drawing to its end. The Parliament was just sitting.

The Minister of Finance shot off for a nearly two-hour speech with an excellent use of sweet expressions amidst some announcements that would otherwise appear sour. That’s the usual scenario at each presentation. And you can see his fellow colleagues applauding him interruptedly at every popular announcement, while the members of the opposition stay silent, serious and attentive.

It seemed to be a continuation of last year’s initiatives and it was hard to single out any new (indeed favorable) measure, except the accelerated corporate tax incentive, and some minor benefits to really needy. More and more public private partnership, implying increased capitalism. No mention of any declared price control, special employment incentives or enhanced security measures for the protection of the vulnerable. Those were some of the “on-the-spot” reactions of a couple of trade unionists who chose to boycott the budget speech. The main opposition party mouthpieces chimed in the same line.

I’m tempted to say that year in year out, the budget presentation is a combination of the same set of nice announcements quite apart from what really happens in practice afterwards. Last year everyone was happy with the income tax incentives as the Minister announced exemption of some 40 000 taxpayers from direct taxation. What ensued afterwards is only to make one lament on the decisions. Many would have preferred direct tax payments than the uncontrolled indirect taxation which nearly doubled prices of some basic commodities, like milk, rice, flour, lentils, butter. The prices increased practically every month, which resulted in a two-digit inflation rate.

We cannot doubt the Minister’s word that the measures aim at curbing deficits and favouring economic growth as the country has started to reap the benefits of tight measures taken last year. Let’s hope this year will be better.

Sugar shortfall

Although the extraction rate is expected to be higher as compared to last year, the sugar production will be much lower than usual. The higher extraction would not seem to “fully compensate for the anticipated reduced cane production”, as mentioned in the last monthly bulletin of the Mauritius Sugar Industry Research Institute (MSIRI). The harvest is expected to yield around 465 000 tons of sugar this year. It represents a shortfall of some 50 000 tons with respect to our commitment towards the European market under the Sugar Protocol. And we have still to honor another commitment vis-à-vis the USA.

Last year with a production of some 506 000 tons the shortfall was about 18 000 tons. These figures are much less than what was obtained some years back when the production was over 600 000 tons.

But this decrease in production was forecast by the MSIRI. The cane elongation have been observed to be inferior than normal and also with regard to the previous year as stated in the bulletin: “island-wise the cumulative elongation of 162,1 cms for the 2007 crop was inferior to that of the 2006 crop by 21,8 cm (11,8 %) and to the normal by 26,8 cm (14,2 %).

As regards the final extraction the MSIRI notes that “sucrose accumulation is higher than that at the same period last year. Despite the fact that further ripening is heavily dependent on forthcoming weather, indications at this stage are for a higher final extraction rate this year compared to 2006 “.

With the end of the sugar protocol reforms in the sugar sector have become imperative and several acres of land have been converted into residential or commercial estates with the result that less land is under sugar cultivation. This trend is expected to continue as we shift further into the reform process already initiated.

Sugar for ethanol

“Sugar is the most economic and most efficient source of production of ethanol.” That was a statement made by the Mauritian Minister of Agro-Industry at the opening ceremony of the 31st session of the International Sugar Council (ISC) at the International Conference centre at Grand Bay.

The Minister’s statement is pertinent at a moment when our sugar industry is facing new challenges. The Sugar Protocol, which guaranteed a market and a favourable price, is no longer valid. Alternative uses have become all the more imperative if we want to preserve our sugar-based economy. The poduction of ethanol is one such option in limiting the use of fossil fuel which generate greenhouse gases with detrimental impacts on climate change.

“In that context,” said the Minister, “Mauritius along with many other ACP developing countries is currently implementing Multi Annual Adaptation Strategies to sustain the sugar industry in the light of the EU reforms. These strategies that have been put forward are basically aimed at operating the sugar industry on the model of a cluster producing sugar, energy and ethanol in flexi-factories to reduce costs, increase revenue, and optimize use of by-products “.

Participants from 81 countries will continue to reflect on the theme ” Sugarcane – an Engine for Sustainable Development ” until Thursday 31 May.

Update on Salary Compensation

At its weekly meeting today, the Cabinet approved the recommendations made by the NPC. The Finance Minister stated it’ll cost more than Rs 3.5 billions to implement the recommendations. He’s is particularly concerned about the payment capacity of small enterprises who are facing fierce competitions and evolving challenges. Although he believes that some sectors can pay more than the recommended amount, he’s been all the time in favour of a compensation based on productivity and capacity to pay rather than on the only inflationary rate index.