The first Pre-Budget consultative meeting in the context of the forthcoming Budget 2023-2024 with representatives of the Confederations of Trade Unions was chaired, this afternoon, by the Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development, Dr Renganaden Padayachy, at the Conference Room of the Ministry, in Port Louis.
Representatives of several organisations participated in the meeting, including the National Trade Union Confederation (NTUC); the Confédération Syndicale de Gauche (CSG) - Solidarité; the Congress of Independent Trade Union (CITU); the Confederation of Free Trade Union; the Mauritius Labour Congress (MLC); the Mauritius Trade Union Congress; the Confédération des Travailleurs du Secteur Publique et Privé (CTSPP); the Trade Unions Consultative Congress (TUCC); and the Confederation of General Trade Unions.
The President of the NTUC, Mr Narendranath Gopee, highlighted that discussions with the Finance Minister focused on the Statutory Bodies Act and the need to be more transparent on the contracts allocated by Government.
As regards renewable energy, Mr Gopee stated that solar energy is costly and proposed for wave and wind energy to be further exploited. He also proposed to put in place a Scientific Committee which will present to Government a different perspective on the natural calamities affecting the country such as flash floods as well as advise them on the precautions to be taken. He further highlighted the need to place waste bins around the country, especially near Metro Stations.
The President of the CITU, Mr Radhakrishna Sadien, for his part, insisted that vacant posts in the Civil Service should be filled. He also suggested that to combat wastage within the Civil Service, a Committee comprising representatives from the Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Development and Trade Unions should be set up and make concrete recommendations as to how to address the problem of wastage.
As for the President of the MLC, Mr Haniff Mohammud Perrun, he said that his proposals focused mainly on the health of workers. He proposed that regular medical check-ups should be organised for workers at their workplace for early screening and detection of Non-Communicable Diseases which, he said, is on the rise.
Other initiatives put forward by the MLC include: decrease of Road Tax; remove Value-Added Tax on phone calls; introduction of ferry boats for transport of workers; and introduction of a Widower's Pension.
The Representative from TUCC proposed for the introduction of a Parental Leave of six months to be shared between the mother and the father. The need to increase old age pension by at least Rs 1,500 was highlighted by the representative of the CTSPP.
As for the CSG-Solidarité, they focused on the need to move towards renewable energy and to create more productive jobs in that field. To combat climate change, they proposed the drafting of a White Paper on the development of Tourism and said that more focus should be laid on cultural tourism.
Speaking about old-age pension, the representative of CSG-Solidarité said that it should be increased to Rs 15,000. He also suggested that a scheme should be introduced where loans at the DBM can be obtained interest-free.
It is recalled that the Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Development issued, in the context of the preparation of the National Budget 2023-2024, a communiqué at the start of the month inviting proposals from Business and Trade Associations, Professional Bodies, Trade Unions, Non-Governmental Organisations, Civil Society Organisations, other stakeholders and the public at large.
According to the Ministry, the objective of the 2023-2024 Budget will be on sustaining the economic growth momentum in the medium to long term through higher levels of investment and exports, thus, building stronger economic resilience. Focus will be laid on accelerating the green transition whilst ensuring social inclusiveness.
Proposals can be submitted on the online platform: www.mauritiusbudget.com ; through email: email@example.com ; and to the Financial Secretary, Government House, Port Louis, by Friday 07 April 2023.