Make no mistake about it. I am not referring to the annual Easter festive, but rather to the traditional ritualistic and rhetoric exercise relating to the preparation of the budget, currently underway at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development (MOFED).
As an experienced Economist, l feel free to express my personal views and submit same to the press for publication rather than direct to MOFED as I am certain that my submissions will go down the drain, specially when a particular Adviser at MOFED, has stated that nobody can replace him at Landscope Mauritius Ltd (quelle arrogance après avoir dénigré le métier du meter reader). My intention in doing so is to allow a wider public to access to my personal observations and judge by themselves.
No doubt, the lion’s share will be devoted to sizable capital expenditure under the Public Sector Investment Programme (PSIP) in view of modernizing the infrastructure among others the implementation of the Metro project, expansion of the port and airport, construction/widening/ maintenance of roads, bridges and reservoirs to stimulate economic growth which has been stagnating at about 3.9-4.0 per cent these last years.
Endowing the country with sophisticated infrastructural set-up is of critical importance in meeting the development needs of the economy but, as usual, policy measures will also be accompanied by some ‘effets d’annonces’ and popular announcements as the general election is looming ahead. You just recall the budget proposal regarding the development of the Jin Fei project, whereby it would generate some 30,000 jobs. It was purely a political bluff.
Invitation has already been issued calling for proposals on the forthcoming budget exercise. The main highlights of the 2018/2019 Budget are:
(i) shaping the new Mauritius with modern infrastructure;
(ii) consolidating traditional and emerging productive sectors and anchoring the economy firmly to
the digital revolution;
(iii)developing a class of innovative entrepreneurs including in the blue economy;
(iv)embracing fin tech and making Mauritius a hub for Africa;
(v) further opening up of the economy and country to the rest of the world;
(vi)investing in the youth so they are better prepared for the future;
(vii)achieving gender equality;
(viii)putting behind us the problem of absolute poverty;
(ix)building a more inclusive and equitable society; and
(x) adapting policies and strategies on sustainable development so as to build better resilience to the new challenges that climatic change is thrusting upon the population.
Let us be frank. Most of these strategies were already announced in previous budgets, but merely rebranded under new label (old wine in new bottle). Though it would be premature at this stage to comment on each of the above objectives in the absence of initiatives to be designed in the attainment of these targets, yet it could be predicted that, without playing “l’oiseau de mauvais augure” most of these policy measures “sera du réchauffé et du déjà entendu”. In future articles, I will further elaborate on each of the above strategies.