Mauritius

June 17, 2012

Small Shops Worry For Their Survival

The situation goes from bad to worse for small shops throughout the island. Of these approximately 5000 shops that are part of the country, more likely to put the key under the door soon.

It is feared that Ramnauth Santosh, chairman of the Shop Owners Association.

"We are in a difficult economic situation but we must be able to cope to continue our activities. Some shops close their doors forever, "laments Santosh Ramnauth, president of Shop Owners Association. Responding to the new law in Mauritius to ban the display of cigarettes in shops, he says it is unfair not to expose the cigarettes. "We work legally and all the people already know that cigarettes are sold everywhere. I do not think this law will bring some change in the sale of cigarettes. We are aware of social degradation, but we can not introduce legislation to prohibit the exposure of cigarettes when we already have a license to sell, "he says. 

President of Shop Owners Association said that some shops the island had to pay fines because the boxes of cigarettes were exposed to the public. "It is such a way so that we stop our activities. We have a small space to sell our products. The gap between our products and placed in our stores than supermarkets is not the same. We feel we tend to forget the little shops, "he said. 

Indeed, on June 8, Cader Sayed Hossen-Minister of Industry, Trade and Consumer Protection, has before a bill in Parliament to amend the Consumer Protection (Price and Supplies Control) Act to compel merchants to expose all samples of products available for sale on its shelves, except for cigarettes. This bill would prohibit retailers to display tobacco products in their stores. This law would not only prevent consumers to see all brands of cigarettes available for purchase but would also require retailers to take on additional costs associated with this reform. However, in other countries where the law was passed, it was found that it never helped reduce smoking. 

It appears that this bill was introduced without any consultation with stakeholders such as association of shopkeepers or Chamber of Commerce, which account for the interests of businesses. The passage of this legislation could impact on small businesses, the true heart of the Mauritian economy. A study by LECG, a leader in the world of finance and economics consultancy, shows that such a ban had no effect on the rate of smoking in Iceland, the first country to have implemented such a ban in 2001. It appears that no consultation or analysis of the impact of this law have been conducted in Mauritius. Small businesses could not make their voices heard on this issue. This legislative process 'fast track' lack of transparency and goes against the principles of democracy and good governance. 

Text by Le Matinal
 

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