Stakeholders from Agriculture, Sugar, IT and Telecommunications industries participate in Pre-Budget Consultative Meeting 2023-2024

A pre-budget consultative meeting with stakeholders of the Mauritius Chamber of Agriculture (MCA), Mauritius Sugar Syndicate (MSS), Outsourcing and Telecommunications Association of Mauritius (OTAM), and Mauritius IT Industry Association (MITIA) was held, yesterday, at the Conference Room of the Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Development, in Port Louis, under the chairmanship of the Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development, Dr Renganaden Padayachy.

In a statement after the meeting, the Chief Executive Officer of the MSS, Mr Devesh Dukhira, said that discussions with the Finance Minister focused on the difficulties faced by the sugar sector. The decrease in production and surface area of sugarcane cultivation, he underlined, has brought about a decline in competitiveness and flexibility which is putting at risk the sector. He deplored that the surface area of sugarcane under cultivation is presently 40,000 hectares as compared to 75,000 hectares 20 years ago.  

Mr Dukhira emphasised that with the decline in sugarcane production, the by-product of sugar namely bagasse is also decreasing. This, he said, will have an impact on renewable energy and the energy sector since bagasse is used as a renewable energy source.

For her part, the president of OTAM, Ms Jenny Chan, highlighted that they had very cordial exchanges with the Finance Minister adding that the latter was attentive to their propositions and the challenges being faced by the sector. She reiterated that the Outsourcing and Telecommunications sector is a very promising one and hence very important for the economy.

She observed that despite the global economic recession and economic upheaval, the ICT/BPO sector has proven to be resilient in the face of these challenges. It is very important to work together and ensure that there is an ecosystem to sustain the sector, she highlighted.

Speaking about challenges, Ms Chan emphasised that the lack of workforce has an impact on the growth of the sector. She added that Mauritius is increasingly losing its competitiveness on the digital front. She expressed hope that the Government will support them so that the country can propel itself as a choice destination for digital offshore.

As for the Vice-President of MITIA, Mr Vincent Bourelly, he underlined that challenges of the sector were evoked with Dr Padayachy as well as the need to ensure that the sector is not disadvantaged in relation to external enterprises. He said that it is also important to reposition Mauritius on the Africa map as a significant actor adding that countries such as Kenya, South Africa and Morocco are overtaking Mauritius as they are organising exhibitions, attracting investors and buyers through fairs and trade shows. The issue of competitiveness and lack of human resource were also on the agenda, he added.

The General Secretary of the MCC, Ms Jacqueline Sauzier, for her part, said that the agricultural sector is encountering a lot of difficulties as regards the increasing costs of production such as irrigation, electricity and fertiliser costs. She underlined the need to roll out measures to decrease production costs which will enable the sector to remain competitive.

Ms Sauzier added that another challenging issue for the sector is water. She recalled that in December last year, Government had passed a new law in view of the dry season which prevents one from carrying out sugarcane irrigation through abstraction of water resources and using water supply for non-domestic purpose through hosepipe and sprinkler. She said they cannot water as the law is still in force. She therefore calls for a change in the law which will enable them to carry out irrigation once every two days. 

She further stated that discussions focused on the non-sugar sector. She underlined the need to attain resilience in terms of production for food security. Importation creates competition with local production which leads to discouragement with the community of planters, she observed.

Source : GIS – 24 March 2023