Restructuring approved: Mauritius Meat Authority to stop bleeding state exchequer
Once implemented, the proposal is expected to generate a net cash surplus as from this year and an annual average of Rs 4 million over the next four years. (Image: business.mega.mu)
The Cabinet has approved the proposal to restructure the struggling Mauritius Meat Authority (MMA) which, once implemented, is expected to generate a net cash surplus as from this year and an annual average of Rs 4 million over the next four years.
The MMA’s financial difficulties have continued despite various measures taken to recover its operational efficiency and for this reason the Office of Public Sector Governance (OPSG) had made certain recommendations to improve its profitability.
Constructing a new slaughter house, introducing proper legislation to control the movement of animals and prevent illegal slaughtering, and introducing cold room and chilling facilities, were the recommendations proposed by the OPSG, which were approved by the government on January 10.
Established under the Meat Act 1974, the MMA’s duty is to provide slaughtering services and ensure regular supply of fresh meat on the market. It is the only abattoir authorized to carry out slaughter of livestock except for poultry.
At the MMA, respect for the beliefs of different ethnicities is paramount, thus the slaughter of cattle, pigs and sheep is carried out on three separate production lines.
Each year, the abattoir carries out the slaughtering of some 8,500 heads of cattle, 8,900 heads of pigs and 5,800 heads of goat and 8,600 heads of deer with same-day delivery.
Logging and transportation costs charged by MMA had been revised upwards to 10% for cattle, goats, sheep and venison, and stood at 5% for pork last year. Despite this, and an increase in the annual grant from Rs 3 million to Rs 5 million, the MMA’s financial year ended with losses of Rs 13 million, continuing to bleed the state exchequer.
However, over the period under consideration, there has been a slight increase in volume of heads slaughtered. For instance, meat from all animals slaughtered recently increased from 2,490 tons to 2,718 tons. The volumes of cattle and pigs slaughtered increased from 1,847 tons of cattle and 511 tons for pigs in 2007 to 1,988 tons and 652 tons respectively in 2013. Yet, there has been a decrease in the volume of sheep and deer slaughtered for the same period.
Another problem faced by the MMA is that most of its equipment has become obsolete and cannot adapt to the requirements of a modern slaughter house of HACCP/EU norms. Currently, labour is extremely essential in abattoir operations, and represents 78 per cent of its regular expenditure budget.
To remedy this situation, the EU was requested for technical assistance by the Ministry for Consultancy Services to comply with the HACCP/EU norms by giving suggestions on either upgrading the existing Slaughter House or constructing a new Slaughter House in line with HACCP/EU Norms.
Accordingly, the EU chose a team of consultants and they have carried out a first-level check.
As the ministry of agro-industry supports further developments to improve its financial sustainability and operational efficiency, besides restructuring the MMA, it has introduced the MCIA Bill, the NAPRO Bill, the MSPCA (Temporary) Bill, the Seeds Bill, the SIE (Amendment) Bill and the Animal Welfare Bill.