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.

Al Buraaq