Budget Brief 2023-24

A Convenience Budget


The budget speech started with a surprising statement by the Minister of Finance, when he stated that this was the penultimate budget of this legislature. No doubt, this will not have gone unnoticed by his colleagues in the Legislative Assembly.

On the other hand, however, the Minister was anything but talkative about the budget outturn for the current financial year. Public debt is estimated at 79% at the end of June 2023, compared to 86.1% one year earlier. By June 2024, a ratio equal to 71.5% is expected. So far so good, but no comment was forthcoming on our stock of foreign currency, however much it is under pressure because of our propensity to import and our inability, so far, to cover suitably imports by exports. Let it be recalled that, when foreign currency is in short supply, the Bank of Mauritius has no choice but to depreciate the rupee, with consequential ill effects on inflation, while the GDP goes up in rupee terms, leading to apparent growth percentages.

Mention must be made of a number of projects which indicate new avenues for progress. It is refreshing to hear about facilities targeted at young parents, such as parental holidays and grants. This should help to bring back the fertility rate to at least 2.1 births, below which the population will continue on a declining path, as it has been for at least three decades. If there is no change to such a situation, there will be a real dearth of economically active human resources in the Republic. We shall have to have recourse to foreigners, with the risks associated with workers immigration, as other countries are experiencing, particularly in Europe.

In this context, one must welcome the forthcoming policy of favouring women entrepreneurship. An increase of the female occupancy rate is welcome, as this will somehow compensate for the large forthcoming crowds of old age pensioners, who will increasingly require personal service.

Another worthwhile project has to do with arts and culture, which must be recognised as a sub sector of the hotel industry. Our foreign visitors can surely bear witness to this, as they sit down every evening, charmed by the sega dancers.

The Minister’s motto is To Dare and To Care. Overall, this budget shows a major propensity to care, as is evidenced by the number of proposals aimed at reducing the pressure on taxpayers and motorists.

What about the daring component? While projects for encouraging agricultural activities are welcome, it is regrettable that, no reference has been made to putting to effective use the maritime resources placed at our disposal by the United Nations for fishing purposes.

Last but not least, one would have appreciated some reference to our education system, with its well-known deficiency in technical subjects, including the all - important field of computerisation and virtual communications.


Pierre Dinan

Guest Writer

Acknowledgements: BDO Mauritius team is grateful to Mr. Pierre Dinan, former Partner of BDO/DCDM, for his editorial and continuous added value to our firm.

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