Interactive public-private sector Economic Dialogue launched by Dr. the Honourable Renganaden Padayachy
In a bid to further strengthen public-private sector dialogue and to ensure a sustained partnership with the private sector, the Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Development in collaboration with the Economic Development Board hosted an economic dialogue themed ‘Forum d’échanges avec les associations du secteur privé’, this morning at the Hennessy Park Hotel, Ebene.
The high-level dialogue saw the participation of more than 80 participants comprising representatives of 16 private sector associations, key CEOs, and chairpersons of public and private sector institutions.
This initiative was organized in context of the Government’s commitment to pursue its agenda of fostering constructive and structured discussions with a view to address challenges hindering our economic sectors in a post-covid landscape and identifying opportunities for our country.
In his welcome address, Mr. Ken Poonoosamy, Ag. CEO of the Economic Development Board underscored that the debate today for big and small economies, developed and emerging economies is about reigniting the engines of growth, protecting jobs, avoiding job losses and prevent further the declining trends in investment and exports. The Ag. CEO of EDB also stressed that several pertinent topics such as the strategy to be adopted to rekindle private sector investment and exports and the sectors as well as opportunities to be leveraged to bolster growth momentum should be addressed.
Delivering the keynote address, Dr. the Honourable Renganaden Padayachy, Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development expressed his satisfaction to launch the first economic dialogue with the private sector. He underlined that the objective of this forum is to provide the private sector with an opportunity to discuss and share their views on their areas of activity. Moreover, he stressed that Mauritius has gained four places in the 2020 Economic Freedom Index published by the Heritage Foundation and is ranked 21st globally and retained its position as the leader in Africa. In this regard, the Honorable Minister stressed that these benchmarks testify our solid economic fundamentals and that to maintain our competitive edge, we must overcome this crisis. In this perspective, a structured public-private sector dialogue is a fundamental requirement.
Speaking about the state of the economy, the Minister of Finance highlighted that the economy would see a contraction of 13% of the GDP in 2020. However, growth projection for next year is more optimistic with an en expected rebound of more than 9% of the GDP. He also stated that the proactiveness and determination of the Government to manage the sanitary crisis has been recognized by the World Health Organization which has positioned Mauritius in the Top 7 countries in the world whose preparation and response to the crisis offer lessons for the rest of the world. In this perspective, the Minister pointed out that the objective of Government is to successfully achieve a structured, disciplined and systematic approach towards the re-opening of our borders.
Moreover, he highlighted the series of Budgetary measures and incentives introduced to cushion the economic impacts of the COVID-19. The Government has disbursed MUR 12 billion for salaries of around 450, 000 employees under the Wage Assistance & Self-employed schemes. Furthermore, he added that the Wage Assistance & Self-employed Scheme will be extended until June 2021 for the tourism sector.
To provide a new impetus to the economy, the Government earmarked a capital of MUR 180 billion under the Plan de Relance which has been disbursed as follows:
- MUR 104 billion to mitigate the adverse impacts of the pandemic on productive sectors such as the manufacturing, tourism, and agro-industry
- MUR 40 billion for the construction sector
- MUR 30 billion for healthcare & education sectors
Speaking about the Mauritius Investment Corporation, the Minister underlined that a capital of MUR 80 billion has been allocated to assist distressed businesses. The Minister emphasized that the Plan de Relance is firmly anchored in the philosophy of the Prime Minister which aims towards achieving a more equitable and inclusive society.
The Minister also pointed out the signs of recovery such as the increase in online banking transactions from MUR 324 million in July 2019 to reach MUR 358 million in July 2020. Value-Added Tax revenue to the tune of MUR 7 billion has been registered for period June to August 2020, the same level as last year. Finally, the increase in matriculation numbers of new and imported cars has increased by 9.52%.
The forum provided an excellent platform to provide an overview of the state in several sectors of the economy. It has also given the opportunity to industry associations to engage in intensive and insightful discussions on common as well as specific challenges which span across all sectors of the economy.