Representatives of Consumer Associations, exchanged views and made proposals on the protection of Mauritian consumers and the restoration of consumers' purchasing power, with the Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development, Dr Renganaden Padayachy, today, in Port Louis, during a pre-Budget consultative meeting.
Consumer Associations representatives in attendance were the Association des Consommateurs de l'Ile Maurice, the Consumer Advocacy Platform, and the Association for the Protection of Environment and Consumers.
During the consultative process, several proposals were voiced out, namely: protecting employment amid the Covid-19 pandemic, reviewing the consumer protection legislation, restoring the purchasing power through price control on a maximum amount of products including vegetables, regulating online buying and introducing a legislation to that end, creating a post for a Consumer Ombudsperson (with full decision-making and investigative powers) to deter the malpractices of certain trades, setting up of a Consumer Commission to protect consumers and to replace the existing Consumers Affairs unit, and modernising existing legal frameworks.
The National Budget 2020/2021 will set in motion the Government Programme 2020-2024 "Towards an Inclusive, High Income and Green Mauritius: Forging Ahead Together". The focus will also be on raising the quality of life for all, lifting the standard of living of the vulnerable groups and securing a safe society.
Other suggestions made encompassed the following: giving equal chances in education with regards to the use of digital tools for those who cannot afford to buy tech products, controlling the soaring prices practised by liberal professions as well as dentists, doctors and insurances amid the Covid-19 pandemic, and more investment in research and development in the consumer sector.
The setting up a Food Agency to comprise representatives of the Ministry of Agro-Industry and Food Security, Ministry of Commerce and Consumer Protection, Ministry of Health and Wellness and Municipal and District Councils was also proposed. This key objective of the agency would be to guarantee an enhanced protection of the rights of consumers on the quality of products in Mauritius.
Recommendations that emerged while discussing with the Finance Minister also included: demonstrating a new political will in favour of consumers and encouraging consumers to buy local produce to protect the industry and employment; ensuring that local products meet quality standards; introducing a taxation system; changing the higher purchase system; promoting food self-sufficiency by providing incentives for people to grow crops and providing adequate facilities and training to that end.
Main stakeholders from business and trade associations, professional bodies, trade unions, NGOs, civil society organisations, amongst others have been accordingly invited to submit their proposals to the Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Development.