Mauritius’ Financial Secretary Dev Manraj met local authority representatives as well as stakeholders from the construction sector in Port Louis, within the framework of the 2015 pre-budget consultation exercise.

The meeting, held on August 18, 2014, provided various stakeholders hailing from both the public and the private sector with the opportunity to present their concerns and proposals, which will be taken into consideration for the forthcoming budget.

The Mauritius’ Finance Ministry had called for pre-budget consultations on July 8, 2014 and has since met stakeholders from both public and private organisations representing various sectors of the economy, as well as professional bodies, among others.

Coming to the construction sector, further to the 9.4% dip in 2013 and the 3% contraction in 2012, the first seven months of 2014 have also witnessed a contraction, of 4%.

Accordingly, the pre-budget consultations for this sector were focused on stimulus measures and plans to improve the growth of the local construction and building industry.

Stakeholders listed their plans for the construction sector, which will focus on overcoming shortage of skills, recognition of prior learning in the sector, and building of housing for low and middle-income families.

They also proposed to focus on more measures to protect local industry from foreign operators, cooperative endeavours with the central bank for sector stimulus as well as delays in procurement and implementation of projects, among others.

With regard to discussions on local governance, the Minister of Local Government and Outer islands, mayors of Municipal Councils, presidents of District Councils, high officials and other stakeholders brought forward various priority projects aimed at providing better service-delivery to the public and ensuring that the authorities are stepping in the right direction.

Among the proposals of the Minister of Local Government and Outer islands Hervé Aimée were two waste-to-energy projects with a production capacity of some 70 Megawatts of electricity.

The Municipal and District Councils proposed the rehabilitation of historical buildings, improving infrastructure facilities and enhancing current services.

Besides, the Peoples Cooperative Renewable Energy Coalition (PCREC) of Mauritius submitted five proposals to the Ministry of Finance.

The coalition, which includes small planters, union activists, environmental activists and citizens, among others, submitted proposals on concrete measures to promote green energy and democratization of the economy.

One of the measures is to impose a coal tax on Independent Power Producers (IPPs) and implement a plan to support the project of small planters for photovoltaic farms of 50 MW.

The money collected from the coal tax could be invested in a fund, which would go towards financing renewable energy projects, while for small planters, the PCREC suggests that Small Planters Solar Electricity Production Scheme be set up for the implementation of the photovoltaic farms of 50 MW.

Last year, with the start of the Power Shift campaign, the first solar cooperative was registered with the concerned authorities but there is a need for measures which will allow for the financing of such projects.

In the signed document by Yan Hookoomsing and Michel Chiffonne, the coalition specifies that Power Purchase Agreements with IPPs should expire and that this is the appropriate moment to introduce such measure, pending renewal.

Such plans would achieve three objectives, namely: democratizing the economy, boosting the Maurice Ile Durable project and assuring the future of small planters after the EU sugar quotas are abolished in 2017.

Additionally, the coalition suggests that the Rs 10 million that was invested by the CEB in CT Power should be used to buy electricity storage for renewable energy.

It also suggests that individuals and organisations who invest in such projects are exempted from Income Tax and from VAT, as an added incentive.

Image (Mercedes-Benz Mauritius): In the construction sector, further to the 9.4% dip in 2013 and the 3% contraction in 2012, the first seven months of 2014 have also witnessed a contraction of 4%.

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