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After the presentation of the budget, on Friday June 7, Labor Party (PTr) MP Fabrice David took stock of the measures announced.

Are the measures announced in the budget sufficient to respond to the major challenge facing us in the context of climate change?
Climate change is undeniably the biggest challenge of our generation. Our island, although it emits little greenhouse gas, is suffering the full brunt of the consequences of climate change: rising sea levels, coastal erosion, more intense cyclones, torrential rains, floods and droughts. So many climatic incidents which have disastrous repercussions on the social, ecological, agricultural and economic life of the country.

To fight against this natural monster that humanity itself has created, we need strong climate leadership with immense financial resources. Rs 208 billion to adjust our lifestyles, our infrastructure and our practices to the effects of climate change, this is what we call adaptation. In addition, Rs 92 billion is needed to reduce the causes of climate change by limiting greenhouse gas emissions, which is called mitigation. This is equivalent to a total budget of Rs 300 billion that must be mobilized by 2030, a figure that had been defined since 2021.

However, we had to wait for this government's last Budget to see a climate financing mechanism, namely the introduction of a Corporate Climate Responsibility (CCR) Levy of 2% of the profits of companies whose turnover is equal to or greater than Rs 50 million. The budget provides for the creation of a Climate and Sustainability Fund to collect this climate tax and the Minister of Finance has allocated an amount of Rs 3.2 billion to fuel and launch this fund.

The government will once again allow sand extraction to rehabilitate beaches hit by coastal erosion. “It’s a terrible step back over 20 years.”

However, I wonder about the governance and transparency around the management of this climate and sustainable development fund. What will be the composition of the board of directors and management of this fund? Will this also attract international climate financing? Will representatives of civil society, NGOs and the private sector sit on it? I also propose that a mixed group of parliamentarians from the government and the opposition could have the right to review the allocations of this fund. What I absolutely want to avoid is that this climate fund is assimilated to the State's Consolidated Fund to finance electoral promises that have nothing to do with climate change. Today, we no longer have a choice: we must treat social, economic and climate issues on the same level.

One of the measures announced in the Budget is the extraction of sand to rehabilitate beaches affected by coastal erosion. What do you think ?
I noted an environmental and climatic aberration in the 2024-2025 budget. The Minister of Finance came to announce in paragraph 227 that the government will once again allow sand extraction to rehabilitate beaches affected by coastal erosion. This is a frightening step backwards of more than 20 years, because this practice was banned in 2001 in order to preserve our marine ecosystem. Today, on what environmental impact studies is this measure based? What lobbies were behind this project? Such a political decision cannot be made without a scientific demonstration supported by our maritime professionals, and I am thinking, in particular, of our fishermen. Sand extraction in Mauritian waters will disrupt our marine ecosystem, destroy the capacity of our lagoons to regenerate and worsen beach erosion, even though it is precisely the same phenomenon that this measure seeks to combat!

And I do not want to believe here that this coral farming project announced with great fanfare would have, as its motivation, the awarding of juicy contracts to certain people close to the regime”

The minister also mentions coral farms…?
This 2024-2025 budget is not short of a contradiction. In the same section devoted to what has been described as the Climate Agenda, it is mentioned three paragraphs after the one which announces the extraction of sand, the establishment of 250 coral farms. On the one hand, we want to extract coral sand and on the other, we want to cultivate coral. And on this point too, I must point out that we are looking at the problem from the wrong side, because the use of so-called sustainable coral farming techniques is not a negative idea in itself. However, the real relevant question that this budget decides to avoid is: how can we ensure that our corals do not become fragile and die? Because if it is a fact that climate change is warming our oceans and bleaching our corals, it is undeniable that the coral ecosystem is facing a growing threat due to pollution from human activities. This double pressure accentuates the risks for the survival of corals.

The dumping of untreated sewage into the sea, the leaching of pesticides from agricultural land and the runoff of chemicals into rivers contribute to the degradation of water quality ending up in our lagoon. All of these harmful substances eventually suffocate corals, disrupt their reproduction and weaken their immune systems, making them more vulnerable to disease and environmental changes. Faced with this growing threat, the protection of coral reefs requires urgent measures to reduce land-based pollution and preserve these precious marine ecosystems for future generations. Cultivating and transplanting 25,000 corals, as announced in the budget, is good. Protecting these same corals upstream and in a holistic approach is better. And I do not want to believe here that this coral farming project announced with great fanfare would have, as its motivation, the awarding of lucrative contracts to certain people close to the regime.

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