Business of ‘ti-papier’ in Mauritius: between vagueness and contradictions

The import of rolling paper has been banned in Mauritius since December 2015. But the fact is that sales were still allowed until May 2022. Despite this import ban, ‘ti paper’ for rolling can still be easily purchased.

The main importers

Eight importers took advantage of the period when the government had decided to remove roll paper (ti-papier) from the ‘Prohibited Goods’ list from 2 June to 17 December 2015. In addition to the company Zippy Mouse Ltd, headed by Jonathan Augustin, had other companies also started this business, which is considered “very lucrative” in Mauritius. An official list from the Ministry of Commerce shows the following importers:

  • Jaunkeepersad Kunaal who had placed an order on 7th December 2015 from USA.
  • Chengadu Kaiseven Kamalen, who had bought 500 boxes of rolling paper from China. He had received an ‘Arrival Notice’ of the cargo on 27 November 2015.
  • Common Dream Ltd, for its part, had placed an order for roll paper in Spain.
  • Time Fliest Ltd had ordered this product from South Africa.
  • Shoprtite (Mauritius Ltd) had placed an order on three occasions.
  • Allybocus Muhmmad Waakid had ordered roll paper from the UK
  • Sonatun Jayantee had placed his order in Italy.

Although this list does not always mention the amount of roll paper that has been imported, an authorized source in the Ministry of Trade explains that those who were allowed to import, in most cases, placed orders for a minimum of 500 boxes. Although imports were prohibited, the law did not prohibit marketing on the local market, explains the Ministry of Commerce. It was only in May 2022 – following a new regulation from the Ministry of Health banning the sale of rolling tobacco in Mauritius – that the sale of rolling paper was also banned.

Contradictions

It is important to point out that despite the ban on imports, rolling papers were still available at points of sale. When asked where this rolling paper came from in the Mauritian market – imports have been banned since 2015 – the Ministry of Commerce has not been able to provide an explanation at this time.

So is there a company producing roll paper in Mauritius? That is what one would be tempted to believe, especially after being informed of the sale of a type of ‘booklet’ of rolling papers that does not contain any brand in several shops in Mauritius. The quality is said to be as good as international brands including OCB and Rizla+. “The glue is as good as international brands. Me li zis pena mark,” says one user.

Even better, according to this source, the selling price is much more interesting than other brands. While an OCB brand ‘booklet’ with a roll of paper retails for Rs 175, the ‘anonymous’ ‘booklet’ retails for Rs 125 and contains 30 sheets of paper, just like other brands. A source at the Anti-Drug Smuggling Unit (Adsu) strongly suspects a local production chain, except that nothing concrete has yet been brought to light.

Abuse of traders during imprisonment

All this vagueness and all these contradictions surrounding the situation of rolling papers in the local market that users often find themselves paying for the whims of traders, especially in difficult times. Several users recall the abuse of traders during the period of lockdown related to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021. A “booklet” of rolling papers was on sale at that time for between Rs 500 and Rs 600. The retail price was Rs.25. Usually a roll of paper is sold for Rs.10.

Jonathan Augustin, the businessman’s jetsetter

The director of Zippy Mouse Ltd was spoken about in connection with the Private Notice Question (PNQ) from the Leader of the Opposition, Xavier-Luc Duval. It has been authorized to import 22 million sheets of rolling papers by the Ministry of Commerce. In 2019, the Independent Commission Against Corruption (Icac) wanted to know the source of his capital because of his lifestyle. The investigators of the commission had proceeded to seize a boat estimated at Rs 5.6 million. belonging to the business partner of Jonathan Augustin.

Like many businessmen, Jonathan Augustin entered the world of politics and racing. We could see him wearing a red polo shirt during the election campaign in 2019. He was with Navin Ramgoolam at the polling centers in Constituency No. 10 (Montagne-Blanche/Grande-Rivière/Sud-Est) .

Without hiding his closeness to the Champ-de-Mars jockeys, Jonathan sponsored Augustin one day during the season. One of his companies, Volacom, sponsored a day in October 2015. He also owns horses in South Africa. His horse, Light That Loose, had won a race at Scottsville in 2021.

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