The Minister of Business, Enterprise and Cooperatives, Mr Soomilduth Bholah, highlighted major achievements which have been realised during the past 105 years by the cooperative movement in Mauritius and expressed his firm determination to continue supporting cooperatives as valuable contributors to the socio-economic empowerment of the country.
He was speaking, yesterday, on the occasion of the 2nd edition of the National Awards for Cooperatives (NAC) 2018 held at the National Cooperative College in Terre Rouge.
The Minister underlined that the NAC has been designed as a means to set higher standards for Mauritian cooperative societies and to encourage them to perform better in their daily activities. It is also geared towards promoting principles of good governance, sustaining excellence and ensuring quality production, he underscored. This initiative, he added, has boosted the enhancement of cooperatives and has considerably improved their visibility on the markets.
He pointed out that the contribution of cooperatives to poverty reduction, employment generation and social integration should be duly acknowledged. Government, he emphasised, has come up with a series of measures in the Budget 2018/2019 with a view to supporting cooperative societies and giving a new impetus to this sector.
These measures include: the Sheltered Farming Scheme providing a loan at an interest rate of 3% and tax exemption during the first 8 years of operation; the Crop Insurance Scheme offering better assistance to planters to face unprecedented situations due to climate change; an increase in the subsidy on the production of onion and potato seeds; and a monthly income support of 75 cents per kilo of tea leaves harvested by small planters during the three months winter period.
As regards the fisheries sector, Minister Bholah said that fishermen cooperatives will benefit from a grant of 60% of the cost of acquisition of outboard engines and fishing nets up to a maximum of Rs 60,000. Furthermore, all registered fishermen will be provided with a free ice box, adding that a Group Life Insurance Scheme will be also introduced for registered fishermen to cover any accidents and losses at sea.
These measures, he highlighted, are part of the Government's efforts to promote the cooperative model of doing business and to further consolidate the sector which has huge potentials. He lauded the remarkable performance and activities of some cooperative societies and encouraged others to participate as well as to make the most of the visibility which is being offered with the organisation of the NAC.
National Awards for Cooperatives 2018
Some 269 cooperative societies from Mauritius and Rodrigues have submitted their participation for the NAC 2018. The winners of the different sectors namely consumer, finance, food processing, food crop, livestock, sugar, and fisheries among others were awarded a shield, a certificate and different cash prizes.
The winners are: Quatre Soeurs Co-operative Store Society Ltd (Consumer); Al Barakah Multi-purpose Co-operative Society Ltd and Curepipe CCU Ltd (Finance); Lyons Fishermen Cooperative society Limited (Fisheries); Amarnath Credit and Tea Marketing Cooperative Society Ltd (Food Crop); Camp Diable Women Entrepreneurs Co-operative Store Society Ltd (Food Processing); Haadiyah Livestock Marketing Co-operative Store Society Ltd (Livestock); Heavens Skills Entrepreneurs Co-operative Store Society Ltd (General); Cluny Co-operative Credit Society (Sugar); The Mauritius Cooperative Agricultural Federation Ltd (Best Federation) and Federation des Association Cooperatives des Eleveurs de Rodrigues Ltd (Rodrigues).