Mauritius Labour force: 10,000 jobs lost to COVID-19 pandemic

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) report: "The disruption of economic activities due to the Lockdown would have had a significant impact on production and employment in Mauritius

Impact of Covid-19 on the Mauritian economy 

The impact of Covid-19 on the Mauritian economy is significant, as evidenced by a report by Business Mauritius and Statistics Mauritius last December, according to which, out of approximately 2,700 companies, 22% of those engaged in the formal sector have let go at least one employee since the outbreak of the virus. The impact on businesses is also confirmed by statistics from the Ministry of Labour. According to these statistics, approximately 10,000 employees have lost their jobs due to the closure of their company or the reduction of their workforce.

The figures were released by the Minister of Economic Activities, Sunil Bholah, in response to a question from Opposition MP Michael Sik Yuen. "According to figures from the Ministry of Labour, 40 SMEs have closed down," he said. In the face of such a situation, he said that SME Mauritius is undertaking a comprehensive assessment of the impact of the virus on SMEs. He added that additional strategies and support measures will be developed to "put SMEs back on their feet".

SMEs in the next budget

Sunil Bholah says about 14,600 SMEs, employing some 9,300 employees, have been allocated MUR 3.9 billion from the Wage Assistance Scheme between March 2020 and March 2021. Under its SME support scheme, the Development Bank has also drawn up plans, which have benefited 1,638 SMEs. The total amount provided to these SMEs amounts to MUR 807 million for the same period.

On the other hand, SME Mauritius has also put in place support schemes, five in total, for SMEs. "To date, 570 SMEs, employing about 3,500 entrepreneurs, with a combined turnover of MUR 2.5 billion, have benefited from financial grants to the tune of MUR 28 million," the minister said. He added that more measures would be announced for SMEs in the next budget.

UNDP Report

Citing a United Nations Development Programme report published in October 2020 on the economic impact of Covid-19 in Mauritius, the minister recalled that employment in the informal sector was more affected than in the formal sector. "The report highlights that the disruption of economic activities due to the Lockdown would have had a significant impact on output and employment. It was predicted that by the end of December 2020, almost 55,000 jobs across the economy would be at risk," he said. According to him, the measures put in place by the government to ensure the country's economic recovery "have made it possible to avoid such a situation".

In addition, 1,500 entrepreneurs have benefited from the capacity development programme to upgrade their knowledge and skills. Sunil Bholah says that about 175,000 SMEs are "active" and operate in various sectors of the economy, from food to software developers to export-oriented businesses. Statistics Mauritius figures indicate that micro and small enterprises contribute to almost 50% of total employment.

The number of SMEs in the formal sector stands at 138,553. Of these, 81% are micro-enterprises, 18% are small enterprises and 1% are medium enterprises. However, in the absence of the obligation to register with the SME Registration Unit, only one in five enterprises (21%) has registered with this institution. It should be noted that from March 2020 to March 2021, 4,300 SMEs registered with this body. UNDP report: "The disruption of economic activities due to the Lockdown would have had a significant impact on production and employment


Apr 10, 2021

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