Ahmad Macky

Now that the Budget 2018/2019 is on our doorsteps, thoughts should be given by the government on how to redress certain economic factors to facilitate our living conditions. The PM is doing his best about people who are carrying a heavy cost-of-living burden. It is about time that “Budget Shops” are set up in this country. The main aim of these budget shops is to provide essential consumer goods at purse-easy-prices.

One reason why a reduction in prices could be expected at budget shops (if they are introduced) is because the wares would be sold at wholesale prices, thus resulting in a measure of relief for the customer who is more accustomed to retail rates. I recommend this measure to the State and call on the finance minister to think about this proposition of ‘budget shops’ across the island. This would bring much needed relief to the people.

The co-operative store was indeed a refuge for the less affluent and even the better off found it a very convenient institution for purchasing their everyday requirements. The ‘co-operative’ therefore, assumed the stature of a symbol which epitomized the egalitarian aims of the state.

During those usually decried days of the so-called closed economy despite the considerable inconvenience involved in the task of buying one’s goods at the ‘co-operative’, the latter ensured that even the least in the land availed of their essential commodities.

This does not amount to an unreserved endorsement of the regimented and regulated economy of those times, but I believe that the State is obliged to ensure that every citizen of the country is in a position to satisfy his essential material requirements at prices that suit his purse. The budget shops could be seen as a continuation of this healthy tradition.

There is no going back to the times of straitjacketed, rigidly-regulated economies, but the average consumer cannot be left at the mercy of the market mechanism, by the State, since the market is no respecter of the economic status of persons. The State, to be truly democratic, must care for one and all. I hope budget shops would serve this purpose effectively.

Mauritius desperately needs the introduction of budget shops to relieve the consumer of the cost-of-living burden. Let us hope that the Minister of Finance gives it some thoughts!

If ever budget shops are set up in this country, there is no doubt that people would be spared the tragedies of the past where some ‘co-operatives’ proved to be dens of corruption and some others were allowed to degenerate into refuges for political henchmen, who thronged them and rendered them a drain on the public purse.

Today our economic situation has changed. The questions that come to mind: are we going to be perennially at the mercy of the western lending institutions or are we going to be independent by doing our own business enterprises and make the most of them? We need to stand on our own feet and adopt a system of creativity such as the introduction of Budget Shops rather than keep looking for State assistance for jobs.