He said that the Budget is characterised by the achievement of resilience in the face of adverse conditions and improvement of the fiscal position so that Mauritius is not caught up in the headlights of global capital market concerns with high and rising debt. He pointed out that today Mauritius is work-in-progress, and that the 2013 Budget will give the country a vigorous impetus to ride the tides of the global turmoil and build the Mauritius of tomorrow in an uncertain world. The 2013 Budget continues to consolidate Government’s approach to sound economic management, while recalling that discipline and hard work have allowed Government to pay for the 2013 PRB report which will cost around Rs 4.6 billion.
According to the World Bank Country brief published last month, the country has solid economic fundamentals: open to foreign investment (USD 273 million in 2011, 2.9 % of GDP); export oriented (USD 5 900 million in 2011; 53% of GDP), high standards of governance (46th in the 2011 Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index) and business friendly (the top-ranked African country in business climate, ranked 23rd globally in the 2011 World Bank Doing Business report).
Speaking about economic measures, the Prime Minister said that the Budget provides direction for new markets, including Africa, China and Russia as well as for new sectors, including a new economic pillar, the Ocean economy and a number of emerging sectors such as the petroleum hub, the medical and education hubs, which have the potential for strong growth in the future.
Concerning the Ocean Economy, an integrated Ocean Planning Strategy will be formulated after wide consultation with all stakeholders. In a bid to further enhance the international profile of Mauritius as the gateway to Africa, the Government has already set up the Africa Centre of Excellence for Business. The Prime Minister highlighted that the budget lays a lot of importance on economic democratisation, and powerful measures are being put in place to give SMEs and micro enterprises a boost and the support they need in difficult times.
As regards education, which he said is the most powerful and sustainable way out of poverty, Government will ensure that every child gets the education he or she needs to get a fair start in life. “It is in line with our vision of equal opportunity to every child in this country to develop his or her full potential”, he pointed out.
The Prime Minister further reaffirmed the determination of the Government to resolutely deal with crime, and law and order within the provisions of the law. To that end, heavy investment is being made in terms of construction of new buildings; introduction of new equipment and technologies; acquisition of new vehicles; and the recruitment of adequate human resource personnel for the Police Force. An amount of Rs 7.9 billion has been provided for the fiscal year 2013 as compared to Rs 6.5 billion provided in this fiscal year, and Rs 4.8 billion for fiscal year 2010. The increase in this year’s budget represents 21 percent over last year’s budget.
Other measures include: construction of a Police Academy to widen the possibility of giving a higher level of training locally and to train more policemen; reviewing of operation and capabilities of the law enforcement agencies to fight drug trafficking; introduction of the Police and Criminal Evidence Bill to the Assembly; construction of a new High Security Prison at Melrose to cater for 750 detainees; construction of a new prison to accommodate 60 pirates at Beau Bassin; installation of CCTV cameras in prisons; recruitment of some 147 prison officers; and the development of a ten-year strategic plan for the Prison Service.
Dr Ramgoolam also spoke about HIV/AIDS prevention measures and focused interventions with regard to specific groups, adding that increased resources will be directed towards prevention programmes within the general population. The 2013 Budget also lays emphasis on corruption and underlines the determination of the Government to achieve a corruption-free society. Funds have been provided in the budget for the construction of ICAC headquarters at Réduit. The Prime Minster spoke about road safety which he said remains one of the priorities of Government.
He expressed his determination to enhance the economic and social development of Rodrigues and bring it at par with Mauritius. There should be no digital divide between Mauritius and Rodrigues or Agalega. The development of ICT should be encouraged as it will link Rodrigues to the rest of the world and is a sector that will lead to creation of employment on the island, he said.
“This budget is more about the kind of future that we want for our children and about the kind of country that we want to live in”, said the Prime Minister in his concluding remarks.