GIS - 25 February, 2020: Putting economic growth at the service of citizens for a prosperous, sustainable and inclusive Mauritius, is the conviction expressed by the Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development, Dr Renganaden Padayachy, during his intervention, yesterday, on the Government Programme 2020-2024 “Towards an inclusive, high income and green Mauritius, forging ahead together” at the National Assembly.
The Government Programme, said Minister Padayachy, spells out the vision and commitment for the future of Mauritius based on the triptych concept that is inclusiveness; sustainability; and wealth creation which is the core of Government’s philosophy in line with the vast process of social inclusion for one and all already embarked by the Prime Minister, Mr Pravind Kumar Jugnauth during his last mandate.
The political will to continue the action of distributing national wealth is a requisite, added the Finance Minister, while emphasising the importance of measuring inequalities by using the Gini coefficient index which according to him is fundamental to help the economy remain on the trajectory of strong and balanced economic growth, close to potential growth; increase economic potential; improve public revenues; and above all maintain expenditure at a sustainable level. These, he stated will help refine the Mauritian economic model in order to make it more fair, more inclusive and thus, more efficient.
The Gini coefficient which has witnessed a decrease from 0.386 in 2012 to 0.365 in 2017, and is forecast to drop further to 0.34 in 2020, according to the World Bank projections, is yet another positive sign that our economy is on the right track, underlined Minister Padayachy.
He also dwelt on the threats and challenges facing the world which can have direct repercussions on the Mauritian economy for instance, the outbreak of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) whereby economists around the world predict an impact of 0.5 percentage points on global growth resulting into geopolitical tensions and barriers to trade. In the wake of such circumstance, he stressed that measures to improve the resilience of our economy and ensure our welfare state are prerequisites for the economy to sustain the external shocks.
Minister Padayachy expressed concerns regarding the United Nations projections, forecasting that the Mauritian population will reach its ceiling by 2023 and fall below the million mark by 2070. According to him, with a declining population the country will not be able to support balanced economic development. Hence, the key to success is the openness to skills, expertise, investments; as well as talent is the way to take the country to a higher stage of its development, he added.
In a world where competition is raging to attract investment, the business climate turns out to be a crucial aspect of our economic strategy, underscored the Finance Minister while he underpinned the importance of business facilitation to improve the economic environment and position the country among the top ten destinations for doing business in the world.
Minister Padayachy further observed that investment which is essential to sustainable growth, is another determinant to build productive capacities, transform the structure of the economy and create jobs. Despite the global slowdown in economic expansion and uncertainties, he is optimistic that the economy has so far remained strong based on the macro-economic indicators.
He supported the favourable climate of the Mauritian economy with a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Rs 500 billion achieved by Mauritius in 2019 which he qualifies as a remarkable performance along with the lowest inflation rate ever at 0.5 percent attained last year. Regarding unemployment, he stressed that the lowest unemployment rate of 6.7 percent was recorded in 2019 while stating that the era of the famous "jobless growth" is over and that the country can reach a GDP of a trillion rupees by 2040, which he said is realistic and achievable goal for being a resilient nation.
Another important aspect of economic diversification, observed the Minister are the opportunities for our small island state to tap into the green economy which he added will help the economy to face the dangers of climate change but also as the keystone of future growth by encouraging initiatives aimed at promoting sustainable development.
He also emphasised on the emergence of new industries and added that the economy is at a stage of the development model where growth will depend on our ability to innovate and transform the economy. An economy driven by innovation will not only help to accelerate economic growth but more importantly, raise the production capacity whereby innovation transforms economies, creates new industries and builds new competitive strengths in the country’s production tools by setting the foundation for a strong knowledge economy which promises highly-paid jobs and technology-driven entrepreneurial opportunities for the youths.
He concluded by reaffirming that Mauritius needs to build an economy based on innovation which integrates new technologies – AI, Robotics, and Blockchain into the industries adding that it is time for the country to rise to its aspirations regarding the defined strategy as spelt out in the Government programme.
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