COVID-19: Mauritius lost the most economically in Africa

"No other country in Africa has lost so much in economic terms to the pandemic." ~ World Bank

"The World Bank is releasing its new Country Economic Memorandum for Mauritius on Wednesday. A report that was prepared during the pandemic. As Senior Country Economist of the World Bank, what is your assessment of the impact of the crisis on the Mauritian economy?

First of all, I think Mauritians deserve to be congratulated for the management of the Covid-19 health emergency. Every life lost to this disease is one life too many. Mauritius coped with the pandemic better than most other countries in the world. It was impressive to witness this first-hand over the past year. Unfortunately, in economic terms, the country has been hit very hard. Comparing the pre-pandemic GDP growth forecast for 2020 (between 3% and 4% depending on the source) with the actual result, a recession of almost 15%, no other country in Africa has lost so much in economic terms to the pandemic.

This is due to the economy's heavy reliance on tourism and travel - including business travel - as well as containment measures. The government responded with a strong support program, one of the largest in the world as a share of GDP. This prevented a secondary crisis in the financial sector and massive layoffs. But we see that unemployment has picked up again and stood at 10.4% at the end of 2020. Perhaps most worryingly, the effect of the pandemic seems to have been more pronounced on those who were already vulnerable before. 69% of the self-employed reported income losses, compared to 20% of employees, according to Statistics Mauritius data."

Interview published by the Business Magazine  in French, partial interview extracted and translated into English by  Wwwdotgotodotmu - Consulting

Consult the complete interview with Erik Von Uexküll (World Bank Senior Country Economist) 

Jun 24, 2021

Mauritius Budget Speech June 2021- 2022

Today 11th June 2021 Mauritius will present it budget speech

Today’s Budget is set against the backdrop of last year's budget. The budget 2020-21 was a COVID-19 Budget that provided the largest ever fiscal stimulus to support Mauritians through the shock and impact of the global pandemic. While foreign investment is down, tourism is practically non-existant, tens of thousands are unemployed, the Minister of Finance has a very difficult budget to prepare and present. This year’s Budget is still in the shadow of COVID-19, and its focus must be to secure our recovery from its impact.

The Government should have amongst others, these goals in priority of order:

  1. To keep Mauritians and ex-pats safe from COVID-19. At the same time, remove the 14-day quarantine on arriving in Mauritius. Quarantine only applicable in case of COVID-19 infection. Open up the economy.
  2. To accelerate COVID-19 recovery and rebuild.
  3. System reform that will improve productivity, social outcomes, and wellbeing.
  4. To tackle foundational challenges, in particular, housing affordability, pollution, animal welfare, climate change, domestic violence, child wellbeing, racism/communalism, crime, discrimination.
  5. Change of law to hold political decision-makers accountable for their actions.
  6. Introduce legislation to adopt Bitcoin as legal tender in Mauritius and follow in the footsteps of El Salvador. As one well-thought-through measure to stop hyperinflation.
  7. Reform the national health system to cope with such a pandemic as COVID19.
  8. Substantial stimulus package and tax schemes to produce food locally, for own consumption and export.
  9. Foreign Direct Investments (FDI), which should be able to cover Mauritius' need for FOREX.
  10. Change of law for ex-pats to acquire citizenship.
  11. Change of the Property Act so ex-pats may acquire land and build themselves.
  12. Change of law for ex-pats to integrate themselves within the Mauritian community and not segregate; creating ghettos for the rich.
  13. Change of legislation to take into consideration ex-pats retiring in Mauritius.
  14. Review the tourism sector and target new private investor types offer to acquire existing tourism infrastructures.

The change sought is wide-ranging and is not exhaustive, it may not be possible to deliver everything in one budget, but the above points should be prioritised in the interest of all stakeholders; Foreign Direct Investment in consequence Mauritians’ social welfare and future is essential.

Mauritius’ response to COVID-19 has saved lives and livelihoods. With the benefit of hindsight, there are many views of what Mauritius could or should have done differently. Not everything was perfect as decisions were made swiftly and without much of the information, that Mauritius and the world community now have. It was expensive. But then there were no costless decisions in COVID-19. Although Mauritius, as a small economy did well preventing the propagation of the pandemic, the economy has been turned upside down.

The Budget 2021-22 must be a Recovery Budget with politics left aside if that’s even possible!

Participate, ask questions and comment on the Mauritius Budget Speech June 2021- 2022 now!

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Jun 11, 2021