153 Main Road, Grand River North West,
Port Louis, Republic of Mauritius.
Tel/fax 230 208 5551 or 230 208 2132
20th September, 2004
Mr. Alexandre TIKHONOV
Secretary of the UN Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Committee:
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
United Nations Office at Geneva, 8-14 avenue de la Paix
1211 Genève, Switzerland
Dear Mr. Tikhonov,
Mauritius, as you know, is a signatory to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. As such, the State of Mauritius has undertaken to submit reports on the measures it has adopted and the progress made in achieving the observance of economic, social and cultural rights. It is in this context that Lalit, a socio-political movement founded in 1976, wishes to inform the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of a serious infringement by the State of Mauritius of Article 9 of the Covenant which states "The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone to social security, including social insurance."
The Mauritian government is abolishing Basic Retirement pension rights, that have been universal, that is for each and every citizen, for the last 50 years (see attached article written by one of our members for details).
Already, the Ministry of Social Security has sent out "application forms" to citizens of 60 years or over, requiring that they state what revenue they receive, in order to be qualified for the pension. The poorest of the poor, often without information or literacy skills, end up being immediately disqualified by this bureaucratic measure. We note that nowhere in this form does it state that the information in it will remain confidential. The form ends with a threat of prosecution. (Annex 1). The government has announced that only old people who fill in this form and who receive less than Rs 20,000 monthly will be eligible to Basic Retirement Pension.
The Finance Minister announced the introduction of this regressive measure in his budget speech on the 11th of June this year. We quote from his budget speech:
"I am therefore implementing this year a targeted approach to Basic Pensions. As from October 2004, payment of Basic Retirement Pension (BRP) will be limited to persons with monthly income not exceeding Rs 20,000. However, there will be a tapering of benefits for those with monthly income in the range of Rs 16,000 to Rs 20,000. Targeting for other basic pensions will be introduced as from January next. The National Pensions Act will be amended accordingly".
Old people are being required to fill in this form even though the National Pension Act states that "a person who has attained the age of 60 shall be qualified to receive a basic retirement pension".
We hope that this information will be communicated to members of the Committee and will be considered when reviewing the report of Mauritius to the Committee.
Rajni Lallah, for Lalit