- 21 December, 2016: The Sugar Industry Efficiency (Amendment) Bill aiming to amend the Sugar Industry Efficiency Act to prepare the sugarcane industry to face challenges in view of the abolition of European Union (EU) country sugar quotas and implement measures destined to ensure the long-term viability of the sugarcane industry, was voted yesterday at the National Assembly.
Moreover, the Bill provides for the setting up of a Sugar Cane Sustainability Fund for the purpose of fostering the production of sugarcane and bagasse as well as lay the foundations for Mauritius to transit to a low carbon economy, by inter alia, providing for the use of lower carbon emission fuel in the transport sector. The Mauritius Cane Industry Authority is also empowered under this Bill to develop a Renewable Sugar Cane Industry Based Biomass Framework to enable the country to best fulfill its international commitments along with an Ethanol and Molasses Framework to allow the mandatory blending of ethanol and mogas.
A Sugar Based Agro-Industry Framework will also be developed to promote a sugar based agro-industry and generate value added sugar or other sugar products through the use of local raw materials. The Bill makes better provisions with respect to land conversion; and provides for the implementation of the award of 31 July 2015 of the Arbitration Panel regarding seasonal labour in the sugarcane industry.
In his statement at the National Assembly, the Minister of Agro-Industry and Food Security, Mr Mahen Seeruttun stated that his Ministry is taking this opportunity to make other amendments to the Sugar Industry Efficiency Act, to remove obstacles in the way of business facilitation, more particularly in respect of land conversion.
He recalled that the sugar industry has been facing daunting challenges throughout its history and successive governments have always strived to come up with new policies and necessary measures to ensure the sustainability of the industry, adding that the Mauritian sugar industry is essentially export-based, with over 90% of production exported to the EU.
Speaking about the EU abolishing the internal sugar production quota due to take effect now in September 2017, the Minister stated that this measure will undoubtedly render our sugar less competitive on the EU market and will destroy all the efforts made by Government and the industry under the Multi-Annual Adaptation Strategy during the last 10 years to keep the industry afloat.
Under clause 4, section 11 of the Act is being amended, underlined Mr Seeruttun, to re-introduce the 1:2 scheme which allows Government to acquire land for development at a nominal price. In return, the seller can convert free of land conversion tax two units of acreage for every unit of acreage sold to government.
With regards to the quality of sugar provided to consumers, the Minister stressed that henceforth sugar will have to adhere to national norms as may be promulgated by the Mauritius Standard Bureau and also in line with EU norms. This measure has to be viewed with the one taken in the Finance Act 2016 to impose a duty of 15 % on all sugars that are not destined for refining, he added
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