Budget 2020-2021 places people at the heart of economic strategies, says PM

GIS – 17 June 2020: The
philosophy of Government is to put the people at the heart of economic
strategies and Budget 2020-2021 does exactly that.  It draws lessons of the Covid-19 episode to
invest and shape a more resilient economy and society.  The Prime Minister, Minister of Defence, Home
Affairs and External Communications, Minister for Rodrigues, Outer Islands and
Territorial Integrity, Mr Pravind Kumar Jugnauth, made this
statement, yesterday afternoon, at the National Assembly, during debates
on the National Budget.

 

The Prime Minister
highlighted that over the last three months more than Rs 25 billion has been
disbursed in fighting the pandemic as saving lives and livelihoods cannot be
priced.  After having managed the health
crisis successfully the focus is on putting the economy and society on a
stronger footing for recovery and for bouncing back from one of the worst
crisis our country has probably ever known, he indicated.

 

According to him, Government’s
approach in dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic has since the very beginning
been three-fold: protecting lives, protecting livelihoods, protecting the country’s
future.  Indeed, he emphasised, the
2020-2021 Budget aligns fully with Government’s approach and even goes beyond the
Covid-19 to lay strong foundations for long-term development.

 

The Prime Minister remarked
that international and local institutions have pointed out that this crisis
would probably result in our worst GDP contraction in over a century.  The way the crisis has been managed has led
to a swift and safe reopening of the country’s economic activities but Mauritius
is still in a situation of deep and unprecedented economic crisis and it will
take a lot of efforts to come out of it, he said.

 

For Mr Jugnauth, it is
important to turn around the country’s economic situation and put it on a
positive growth path and ensure that the economy not only preserves livelihoods
but also creates jobs at a fast pace in early post-Covid-19 years especially
for the youth.  The economy has over the
last five years been on a strong footing even as the world was faced with a
slowdown in growth.  In fact, growth has
been sustained for more than 3.5% annually whilst keeping both inflation and
unemployment at one of the lowest levels in the country’s history. Inflation
has been at 0.5% and unemployment at less than 6.7%.

 

Speaking about lessons
learnt, the Prime Minister underscored the need to have a well prepared and
well staffed health sector for both public and private healthcare.  He recalled that besides offering the
necessary resources for the development of the healthcare sector, Budget 2020-2021
has announced a five-year strategic plan for the sector, the setting up of a
national centre for disease control and prevention to combat infectious
diseases and the promotion of telemedicine that will contribute to the
modernisation of the health sector locally while at the same time, opening up
new opportunities for export of healthcare services.

 

The Budget also promotes the
development of a pharmaceutical sector to reduce the country’s dependence on
imports while at the same time creating new and higher value-added activities
in the economy.

 

Another important lesson
learnt, the Prime Minister indicated, is the importance of being
self-sufficient.  The country imports
some Rs 50 billion of food and manufactured goods for local consumption.  A large part of these imports can actually be
produced here to fuel the growth of local production, the agricultural,
seafood, manufacturing and local renewable energy sectors, he stated.  This Budget thus introduces numerous measures
and incentives on the supply side from easing access to agricultural land
financing facilities to industrial and technological parks.  It also provides the ecosystem throughout the
entire spectrum of the value chain to boost local production and reduce
imports.

 

The Prime Minister further
pointed out that the construction sector will help Mauritius in its recovery
and investment in major public infrastructure will lead to higher economic
growth in the long-term.  The fruits of
economic growth must be more equally shared and there must be wider
participation in the economic development of Mauritius and there is a plethora
of incentives to protect and support SMEs, small planters and operators in the
informal sector, he stated.

 

As regards the social
aspect, Mr Jugnauth emphasised that in spite of the extremely difficult
economic situation the livelihoods of the most vulnerable are being protected and
some 12 000 families that is 50 000 citizens will be provided with decent and
affordable housing units.  Significant
strides are being made towards reducing poverty, he noted, adding that rice and
flour will be subsidised to make these affordable to low income families and
free education and healthcare will be maintained and investment made to improve
the quality of services.

 

All this is being done at a time of global recession and deep economic
crisis and this year’s Budget provides for an increase of 12.4% in the
allocations for social protection, the Prime Minister reminded.  On the topic of environment protection, he
said that financial resources allocated to the sector have increased by 160%
since 2017 and 2018.  This year, some Rs
3.5 billion has been allocated representing a 29% increase over last year’s
allocation.

 

The National Budget, concluded Prime Minister Jugnauth, not only attends
to immediate urgencies of the economy but also prepares for the future of
Mauritius.  In spite of major economic
setbacks leading to declining Government revenue and greater pressures on
expenditure, the Budget focuses on preserving livelihoods and continuing on the
path of greater inclusiveness and sustainability, he highlighted.  ‘We are not letting the current difficulties
blur our vision of a more prosperous, inclusive and greener Mauritius in the
future and Government is committed in ensuring a better and more modern
tomorrow for all citizens’, he assured.

 

 

Government Information Service, Prime
Minister’s Office, Level 6, New Government Centre, Port Louis, Mauritius.
Email:
[email protected]  Website: http://gis.govmu.org  Mobile App:
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