The Ministry of Commerce and Consumer Protection organised, yesterday, a half-day workshop for the validation of the Price Observatory Committee’s (POC) Strategic Plan, at the Victoria House in Port Louis.
The Minister of Labour, Human Resource Development and Training, Mr Soodesh Satkam Callichurn; the newly appointed Minister of Commerce and Consumer Protection, Dr (Mrs) Marie Christiane Dorine Chukowry; the Chairperson of the POC, Dr (Mrs) Rooba Yanembal Moorghen; and other personalities were present.
In his address, Minister Callichurn congratulated Minister Chukowry for her new responsibilities as Minister of Commerce and Consumer Protection, a post he held for over two years. “I can proudly state that during my term at this Ministry, we have been able to achieve a lot in terms of policies to better regulate the trade sector in Mauritius and above all ensure the best possible protection for consumers,” he emphasised.
Moreover, the Minister stressed that in budget 2022-2023, a subsidy of Rs 500 million was granted to the State Trading Corporation (STC) for the purchase and commercialisation of edible oil, milk powder, pulses, and Basmati rice. Subsidies on Long Grain White Rice, flour, Liquefied Petroleum Gas, and bread (‘pain maison’) were also maintained, he added.
Mr Callichurn observed that another important measure recently implemented is the introduction of the Regressive Mark-Up ranging from 26% to 35% on eight categories of medicines and a flat 30% on three categories of non-classified pharmaceutical products.
He also referred to the successful negotiation concluded with India for the exemption from the ban on the export of rice for a volume of 14,000 Metric Tons (MT), roughly equivalent to two-thirds of Mauritius’s annual consumption and, around 1500 MT, which was already awarded to an Indian supplier and was lying at Mundra Port in Gujarat, and has now been cleared for shipment.
For her part, Dr Chukowry emphasised that a constantly improving consumer protection system with all the necessary mechanisms and consumer-friendly tools remains high on the agenda of her Ministry and the Government. It is in this context that the initiative to revamp the POC was taken so as to ensure that it serves its initial purpose in the face of a continuously evolving trade landscape, she added.
Mauritius, Minister Chukowry underscored, is highly dependent on imports and as such, has been deeply affected by the negative impacts of the two back-to-back shocks of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Ukraine-Russia War. “In addition, impacts of climate change, imported inflation, energy prices, freight costs, and international market forces, amongst others, cannot be ignored,” she stated.
All these initiatives, the Minister pointed out, bear testimony to the Government’s determination to strive by the side of the population against the difficult global economic situation and the soaring prices that are beyond their control.
As for the Chairperson of the POC, she highlighted that the overall objective of the Observatory is to bring transparency in the evolution of prices of a hundred selected commodities comprising more than 450 widely consumed products so as to enable consumers to make more informed and rationale buying decisions.
Dr Moorghen underscored that the Strategic Plan will help to create an enabling environment to be more citizen centric in the provision of real time information on retail prices, dissemination of research policy, and to promote research based not only in the local context but also based on best international practice of price observatories worldwide.