LALIT on 30 May 2018, exactly two weeks before the Government announces its annual budget, held a demonstration with an 8-meter banner in front of the Government House at Place d’Armes in Port Louis, the city’s busiest intersection. The anachronistic Queen Victoria looked on from her pedastal, as LALIT called for a halt to the Government subsidy on sugar estates that date from before her times, and that no longer create employment, export tax, nor even much foreign currency, and yet continue to hog all the arable land. LALIT also calls for an end to the massive tax breaks the Government is giving to the same sugar estates to help bail them out through real estate speculation i.e. selling off the country’s arable land to millionaires and billionaires for their villas, marinas and golf courses – another investment without proper job creation, and in this case an investment that is a new form of colonization similar to Israel’s colonization of Palestine today.
LALIT called, in the demonstration, for jobs in production – beginning with agricultural work and proper fishing, then in industrial plants that preserve and transform food products, then in the marketing and development of value added for these products. Secondly LALIT called for housing for all – addressing the three major problems: the asbestos and other dangerous housing already sold to poor people, the overcrowding in “heirs’ houses” because of the Napoleonic “compulsory heirs system” coupled with Government’s no longer running a proper social housing department like the CHA was, and the 10% of people who neither have housing nor even the questionable status of being an heir to housing. LALIT also proposed food security as a priority for the country – in these times of the dangers of both war and environmental catastrophe.
This is in response to the sugar bosses, meanwhile, calling for more subsidies both for their real estate plans to ruin agricultural land, and for the lame duck cane-and-sugar industry. (See our leafet for details in the Documents Section). Governments usually bow down abjectly to the economic power of the sugar estate bosses. The present Government, elected without having had time to draft a proper program and not expecting to win the 2014 elections, just follows the sugar estates’ projects blindly.
LALIT members gathered in the gardens lining the Place d’Armes, while only eleven of us, at any one time, held the banner, thus conforming to, and protesting against, the Public Gathering Act’s outlawing of demonstrations of 12 or more people, unless the Authorities are informed 8 days in advance. The LALIT banner, in stunning red, yellow and black, read:
For the 2018 Budget
Government must SUBSIDIZE
JOB CREATION IN PRODUCTION
Not the Rs 1.3 billion proposed to subsidize the sugar estates cane and sugar
HOUSING FOR ALL
Not Real Estate villas for billionaires, IRS projects, Smart Cities
Near the protest banner, other LALIT members distributed leaflets to the passers-by, leaflets invoking the 10 specific demands that LALIT has developed during neighbourhood meetings, demands that are linked to the land question, including the question of the country’s oceans. Three members, Alain-Ah-Vee, Rajni Lallah and Lindsey Collen, also held press briefings nearby. Three radio stations, three newspapers and one internet TV station were present. (You can watch a Video at http://ionnews.mu/video-lalit-manifeste-contre-les-subsides-aux-irs-et-au-secteur-sucre-300518/)