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Thursday, November 30, 2023

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Gas And Fuel Surge : ACIM Calls For Protests Of All Kinds And On All Sides

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Two major increases in two days were certainly not going to be met with understanding. Jayen Chellum, Secretary General of the Association des Consommateurs de l’Ile Maurice (ACIM) calls for a general mobilization of housewives, motorists and committed citizens against this price hike, which is certainly justified but avoidable to be drawn from consumers’ pockets.

Shared disgust and anger

We are talking about these recent increases which confirm once again the imminent increases. Since midnight on Tuesday, the consumer has been paying 33.3% more for household gas, i.e. a 12 kg cylinder at Rs 240, a 6 kg cylinder at Rs 120 and a 5 kg cylinder at Rs 100, as a result of a 9.1% reduction in the government subsidy. Since midnight on Wednesday, the price of fuel has risen by 10% since the very recent hike on February 26, when the price of petrol was Rs 61.30 and diesel Rs 45.10, i.e. an increase of Rs 6.10 on petrol, which currently costs Rs 67.40, and Rs 4.41 on diesel, which costs Rs 49.60.

Thus, the increase is gradual since the increase in fuel prices on June 30 with the Covid tax of Rs 2 (petrol was selling at Rs 50.70 and diesel at Rs 37.30). Various sectors and businesses are still waiting for the government to decide on their new prices and services. Since then, the country is on its third fuel price hike in 4 months.  As of December 28, 2021, petrol was selling at Rs 55.75 and diesel at Rs 41.

The government is not going to be able to do this,” said Jayen Chellum, who is just as disgusted and angry as every other Mauritian consumer. “I maintain that the government has all the cards in his hand to absorb these justified increases and not to pass them on to the consumers, who will bear a heavy burden on every product and service. The high cost of living is already the debate of the last few months. And this is a double penalty for consumers,” he said. He added, “There is no explanation why the government cannot ease the burden on the people by cutting some of the funds, like Solidarity Fund at Rs 1, Covid Fund at Rs 2, RDA Fund at Rs 1.85, among other unnecessary taxes today. It is no longer an open secret that all the surpluses collected are injected into the ministries. To cite the most recent one in 2020, gas and fuel prices had plummeted. Where are the benefits of this trend? Is it fair that the population must still dip into their pockets, especially in these times?

Mobilization of housewives and motorists

The Secretary General of ACIM does not intend to fight alone this time and is calling on the population to demonstrate their discontent. “We have already sent our request to the Commissioner of Police for a demonstration in the capital. We are asking all housewives to participate in ‘Operation Casserole’, which includes stopping their activities at home at midday and banging on a pan outside their houses to voice their disagreement with the new gas prices in the neighborhood. I ask motorists to show their solidarity and participate in a national Snail Operation to create awareness by creating traffic jams. I ask them to drive between 20 and 30 km/h. The government will understand that it will have to revise the fuel allowance upwards.”

Will the demonstration of the population’s anger be enough to convince the government?

The protests in Camp Levieux did not end well where several residents were arrested. Since 8.30 am, the inhabitants have been stacking tires to block the roads and they have been carrying various signs to express their disagreement, while vowing not to move until the government lowers the prices. They have set fire to the tires afterwards. The need to demonstrate is well present in the population.  Will this anger lead to a general revolt or riots?

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