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Friday, September 22, 2023

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Budget 2022-2023: Pravind Jugnauth: The Most Difficult Budget

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It is in these words that the PM described the preparation of this Budget 2022/2023 at a press conference after the budget. “I have been Minister of Finance and I have presented budgets in the past. But this one was the most difficult to prepare. It shows our determination. The goal is to give everyone an equal opportunity. So that everyone has access to education, health, culture, among others, but in the respect of the laws and democracy” he said referring to the popular measures announced by his Minister of Finance such as the increase in pensions and other measures of relief for Mauritians. “We had to make sacrifices” he admitted, explaining “we are still facing a pandemic, the war in Ukraine which has worsened the situation and other factors such as climate change. An unexpected situation that our country has never known. It is in this context that we are facing great challenges. We are working to accelerate the economic recovery and as much as possible to help the population that is facing an unprecedented inflation. We will respect as much as possible the commitments we made during the election campaign in 2019 when we did not expect such crises. And we had to draw on our resources and reserves. This has shaken up our programs for the five years of our mandate. He ended his speech by saying “This budget is a continuation of the philosophy that we have been following for several years now.

Ivan Collendaveloo- “a budget for unity and harmony

The leader of the Liberater Movement, said “Struck by the fact that despite the great international difficulties, the government is extremely close to the people. It has understood what method to adopt to alleviate the Mauritians. The major infrastructure developments in each town and village will give each one a unique identity. The rising costs are not dependent on the government, but on the world situation. The government has shown its interest and help to the elderly and the poor. This is for me a budget for unity and harmony.

Vikram Teeruthraj Hurdoyal- Investing in people

For the Minister of Public Services “This budget follows the philosophy, Investing in people”. For him it is a “social budget to relieve the population in these difficult times, especially the pensioners and the elderly. We have encouraged planters and other artisans to invest and we want them to do so. This budget will benefit everyone. 350,000 wage earners will benefit from Rs 1000 each month, subsidies have been extended and others increased, municipal taxes have been abolished and thus will relieve the urbanites, not to mention the upcoming developments in housing and infrastructure. Regarding my ministry and civil service, 8,500 civil servants will be recruited to fill the vacancies in the various institutions, despite the promotion of work from home. As announced by the Minister of Finance, the employment rate will be reduced from 9% to 7%. It will be the people who will benefit the most. We want the public to appreciate it.

Fazila Jeewa-Daureeawoo – “A humanistic budget”

The Minister of Social Integration, Social Security and National Solidarity congratulates the Ministry of Finance. “The budget for social security increases from Rs 38.6 billion to Rs 46.4 billion. This represents a massive increase and reflects the vision of the PM and the GM. It reflects a balance between economic and social development. This budget has put people at the center. There are many measures to help the vulnerable population. Disabled people under 60% will finally receive a pension and the increase in grants for devices such as glasses, wheelchairs and other appliances will help people live better. And the Muslim Widows Pension, which fulfills one of my recommendations, represents a leveling of the playing field. This will help the women involved in their claims, and I will need to put a structure in place for this.

Soodesh Calichurn – “I am very surprised by this budget

With the current context, the Minister of Commerce and Labor portfolios admits that he did not expect such a balanced budget. “The inflation rate for 2023 is more than 8%. And that is Rs 860 per head. The Government has given Rs 1000 to those earning less than Rs 50, 000. This will also meet the demands for salary increase. Moreover, there will be real relief with the injections in the subsidies, like the prices of commodities which will remain unchanged like gas. To join the minister Fazila Jeewa- Daureeawoo the social benefits are great with the increase in pensions where the over 60 years old will have Rs 1000 and for the over 65 years old Rs 2000. For those who receive more than Rs 50000 and who have at least one child who is studying, there will be a reduction in their taxes. I find very positive the measures to encourage local production such as breeding, plantation and fishing. This will help in the reduction of the dependence on imports”. On a question about fuel prices that remain unchanged while the population was expecting a decrease, the Minister said that “it is not only Mauritius that is facing these difficulties and we have to deal with it”! On the Excise duty of 10% on alcohol and cigarettes, Minister Callichurn finds that “it is a good measure to discourage consumers”. He also spoke about the 500 million allocated to the STC to import commodities to be able to sell cheaper to consumers and also about the Rs 1.4 billion injected this year to be able to keep the prices at the same level. He returned to this first “The price of diapers will be regulated and controlled, as well as other baby products where the margin is huge.

Kailesh Jagutpal – “This budget is beyond my expectations

The Minister of Health congratulates and thanks Dr. Renganaden Padayachy and also the Prime Minister for such a budget in the current period. “This budget has taken into consideration the challenges, environmental, tourism, general price rise, human and human development, growth, and protection of various social strata. The budget has made provision to satisfy everyone. For his ministry, “health has received a budget of Rs 14.7 billion. Apart from the Recurent Expenditure, there is the infrastructure, where we have received finances for Ayush Centre, Mediclinics, NICU, Neo Natal, Autism Clinic in different centers. There are more provisions for more employees of different grades, 1350 employees in Health”. He is also very satisfied that the Primary PCI where only Jeetoo Hospital was equipped will now also be accessible to Victoria Hospital and Cardiac Trust “The cardiac patient is more benefited as well as the medical team. So, as soon as the heart patient comes in, we can prepare them faster, which means we can do the trombone, but at the same time we can do the engio and even put in a stent at the same time. We have made provisions for the elderly population, but also to equip each hospital with a gynecology specialist. The gynecologists will be on duty 24 /7 ” He also spoke about the provision made for the good of the Brown Sequard Hospital, that is to transfer the patients who represent less serious cases in other centers for less serious assistance.

Alan Ganoo- “the minister has worked like a magician.”

The Minister of Transport couldn’t have hoped for more. “This is a remarkable budget. This budget has taken measures to facilitate Mauritius in its post-Covid and post-Russian-Ukrainian war economic recovery. The Minister of Finance has eased all sectors of the economy. At the level of trade, we have a Cabotage system between Mauritius and India and Mauritius and the East African countries. This was a long-discussed project, but it has now been completed with the signing of the FTA agreements with India as well as with the African continent where trade can be done with our own ships and will greatly help trade. I will not talk about the more popular projects such as the Welfare State, there has been a flash flood of social measures and also in the interest of the middle class who have less than Rs 50,000 per month and also those of the lower middle class who will no longer pay the municipal tax. He also praised this budget for the Ecology where there is a panoply of measures. “As Minister of Transport, having electric cars will greatly help the ecology and especially the provision for 200 electric buses will greatly help the transport sector. There have been so many contributing factors, such as the price of diesel, that have prevented the modernization of transport fleets. There will be a new fleet management service for buses. He added: “Without Covid 19 and the Russian-Ukrainian war, I can’t even imagine where Mauritius would have been … this budget is the antidote to crises.”

Deepak Balgobin – “Making Mauritius a smart country!

As a first reaction, the Minister described the Budget as “For the People”. Regarding ICT, “even during the pandemic, this sector has been growing. There have been several foreign companies that have come to set up in the country. And now we are in the phase of training young people in the various sectors related to ours. Regarding the digital facilities for the application of certificates of good character, payment of fines and everything related to the digitization of government services, Minister Balgobin said “we can even make an application for the birth certificate online. In short, it is for the digitization of the country which also represents a great saving of time. This is very positive. Our ICT infrastructure ecosystem is very strong and we are among the few African countries with 100% fibre optic coverage. We have easy access to the Internet, 99% connectivity in the country, 127% Broad band Connectivity and 150% mobile network. With these different measures, this sector will continue to gain in terms of growth. E-passport is a project under the PMO. But we are going to digitalize all sectors. The goal is to become a digital hub and make Mauritius a smart country!

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