The budgetary measures presented by the Minister of Finance do not respond to the impacts of climate change that the country is experiencing. For Stefan Gua, we need to radically change our perspective on development.

The Minister of Finance announced that nature would be one of the important axes of the 2024-25 Budget? Mission successful?
No ! Because we must insert this exercise into existing government policy and practice. This is a policy that does not respect nature. Let us not forget that at this very moment, the government, through the Ministry of the Environment, is appealing to the Privy Council against Eco-Sud for the non-recognition of the citizen's right to the legal protection of its ecosystem .

Furthermore, the budgetary measures do not respond, in essence, to the impacts of climate change and the alteration of our ecosystems that the Republic of Mauritius is experiencing.

Three environmental protection measures in particular are causing controversy: sand mining, the use of drift nets and the removal of the Rs 2 tax on plant-based plastic bottles. Several environmental activists speak of a “setback of several years”…
Yes, we can without hesitation speak of a step backwards, since we are bringing back measures previously repealed in favor of safeguarding the marine ecosystem. Certainly, we have a problem with erosion of our beaches, but we must understand why. Several studies show that preserving sand dunes and coastal flora helps combat beach erosion. But what have we done in recent years?

Rezistans ek Alternativ (ReA) and other environmental movements are fighting against the capitalists of Mauritius and elsewhere, and worse, against the government, for the preservation of our marine coastline. The cynicism in this whole affair is that the “facelift” of our beaches will serve to preserve the development model which has largely made our coastline what it is. Padayachy and Jugnauth want to reactivate sand extraction in Mauritius without measuring the impact this will have on the marine ecosystem and biodiversity.

If Padayachy wants to be inspired by the Maldivian example, he should present a measure to ban single-use plastic as the archipelago did in 2022. The removal of the tax on plant-based plastic bottles is not a deterrent for the importation or production of plastic bottles.

Regarding the authorization of destructive fishing techniques, this is beyond comprehension. This Budget encourages fishermen who have a purse seine fishing license to return it for compensation in order to eradicate this fishing technique. At the same time, he proposes to amend the Fisheries Act to allow boats flying the Mauritian flag to integrate a fishing technique rightly criticized as being the most destructive.

There are two things to see here. The first is that Mauritius has periodically renewed fishing agreements with the European Union which uses industrial trawlers and purse seiners which scrape and round up everything in their path. Secondly, when we talk about “Mauritius Fishing Vessel”, this does not automatically mean Mauritian boat, but boat flying the Mauritian flag. Thus Mauritius will grant licenses for the destruction of our marine ecosystem and biodiversity.

To tackle the climate crisis, it is not enough to give money”

Almost no mention of the human impact of climate change in the 2024-25 Budget. However, a recent report from the International Labor Organization, entitled “Ensuring safety and health at work in a time of climate change”, published last April, warned that “70% of workers worldwide” are exposed to “serious health risks” due to climate change. How do you interpret this omission in the Budget, apart from an allowance for those who have to work during torrential rains?
This is not an omission, it is an abdication of the responsibility and duty of the State, through government, to provide security and protection to families, workers and the people of Mauritius.
The General Workers Federation (GWF), after consultations with several workers from different sectors, is proposing measures to protect the lives of workers faced with exposure to the dangers of climate change, including a Disaster Leave, or the application of the Humidex, as is done in Canada, to measure heat and humidity levels, and issue bulletins.

Do we in Mauritius understand the issues, challenges and profound implications of climate change?
This is why we say within ReA that nothing is fundamental in this Budget. When it's not cosmetic, like the rehabilitation of beaches, it's populist.

The need for a global vision for food sovereignty requires us to address the issue of biological invasions as well as the issue of the percentage of our land that must remain under agricultural cultivation, the packaging of food to cope with shortages in the event of disasters linked to the climate crisis etc. This vision must be part of a vision connected with the other islands in the region because we share the same climate and we can develop regional intelligence which will allow us to be more resilient and united in the face of climate change.

To tackle the climate crisis and the loss of biodiversity for an island state like Mauritius, it is not enough to give money. We will need to radically change our perspective on development and also strengthen our collaboration with other island states experiencing the same situations to develop and adopt endemic solutions adapted to our realities.

The Minister of Finance announced the establishment of a Climate and Sustainability Fund (CSF)…
The CSF aims to mobilize Rs 300 billion until 2030. The Rs 3.2 billion are intended to carry out certain projects, including the famous “lift” of our beaches. There is no environmental policy for Mauritius. There is simply a policy for “tick boxes” internationally and “business facilitation” for “corporate”.

We have carried out an Environmentally Sensitive Area Study for Mauritius since 2009 to identify the environmentally sensitive areas of Mauritius in order to better protect them with a law that should have followed. To date, the report has not been made public. So, let us not be surprised that what is done is undone in Mauritius when it comes to environmental policy.

The Bank of Mauritius report entitled “How Mauritius is Mobilizing Climate Finance”, mentions that Mauritius wishes to mobilize $6.5 billion by 2030. The government and the private sector would finance 35% of this amount, and 65%. remaining by external sources. The Corporate Climate Responsibility Levy of 2% on companies with a turnover of more than Rs 50 million goes in this direction. What do you think of the introduction of this tax?
A tax on companies to respond to the effects of the climate crisis and to move away from dependence on fossil fuels is a good thing. This tax will represent 35% of what the State intends to mobilize until 2030.

In his speech, the minister announces that a Joint Public and Private Committee will decide on the projects that will be financed using the Rs 3.2 billion from the CSF. You contest this measure…
This is a serious problem, because it would mean that the ecological policy of Mauritius would be decided by the private sector and the government without the workers of this country having a say. Mauritius is a country where every citizen has the right to participate in their future. Mauritians are voting for a government that will better meet their expectations and offer them space for more citizen participation in political life.

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