The secretary general of the Consumers' Association of Mauritius (Acim), Jayen Chellum, believes that the next Budget must make a fair share between social and economic issues.

What is your feeling a few days before the presentation of the National Budget?
It is with a mixed feeling of hope and fear that I await the current government's Budget before the general election. I fear that to mollify the electorate, the government is embarking on an exercise of “fer labous dou”, but at the same time which could endanger the national economy. Paradoxically, I remain hopeful that there will be quite a few measures in favor of the middle class and the most disadvantaged. I am expecting a very balanced budgetary exercise between social and economic recovery.

For many Mauritians, this will be a “labous dou” Budget
This is the question I often ask myself. Can we really speak of “fer labous dou” when it comes to measures intended to improve the living conditions of the middle class and the poor class who have experienced inflationary hell in recent years? In reality, what appears to be “fer labous dou” for the wealthy class is blessed bread for people of modest circumstances. For example, an increase in the old-age pension is expected by a majority of pensioners, but may be seen as a populist measure by others.

For you, what should be the priority measures in the Budget?
As a consumer protection activist, I believe that urgent measures must be taken to relieve the heavy inflationary burden that the population has been carrying in recent years. This may result in a reduction in taxes on petroleum products, to lower prices in trade and services, measures to mitigate the cost of freight on imported products, the imposition of price controls on essential products, the reduction of VAT on a certain number of food products, not to mention other measures to reduce the cost of services.

At the same time, the Budget must make provisions for a revival of agricultural policy with a view to achieving food self-sufficiency. The other priorities of the Budget must also be massive support to support small and medium-sized enterprises which are major providers of jobs in Mauritius as well as to the manufacturing sector with a view to a solid revival of our exports. I also hope that the government will review the interest rates on installment sales.

What are your fears?
One of my biggest fears is that to find revenue to finance its Budget, the government will impose new taxes on the population and particularly on consumer products.

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