At the outset we note that the constant public-private dialogue, through the various working committees throughout the past year, has been effective.
The challenges facing the business community as a whole were raised in these committees, in our pre-budget discussions and through our submissions.
On the positive side, we note that this is a Budget that gives pride of place to social issues and takes the most vulnerable into consideration.
We note with satisfaction the announcement of several measures, as follows:
Financial incentives remain essential to give our export market a competitive edge and, at the same time, encourage product diversification. We welcome the extension of the Trade Promotion and Marketing Scheme.
In the same vein, extending the Freight Rebate Scheme, enabling exporters to be reimbursed up to 25% of basic ocean freight costs for exports, will undoubtedly give a boost to exports.
On the other hand, the creation of new Special Economic Zones (SEZ) is an issue that the Chamber has been considering for some time now. The aim is to enable economic operators to penetrate new markets.
The National E-Licencing Platform as the sole body for processing work permit applications has been well received. This platform will streamline the permit application process, enabling progress to be tracked and guaranteeing transparency, as well as the rapid granting of permits.
In addition, removing the restrictions associated with the Young Professional Occupational Permit will give foreign graduates greater flexibility in terms of the sectors in which they can work. As a result, companies will be able to hire qualified graduates and remedy labor shortages in the island’s various sectors.
We are pleased to note that the status of women, and their place in the job market, has been the subject of encouraging measures. SMEs, including those run by women and young people, make a major contribution to the economy.
We are in favor of overhauling the tax system. The first steps announced, notably the cancellation of the Solidarity Levy – a request from MCCI – and the progressively revised individual tax, should have a positive impact.
Encouraging measures have been announced in relation to sustainable development, notably through the circular economy and renewable energies.
On the face of it, some areas that deserve particular attention, including sea and air connectivity for business, and port efficiency, were not mentioned.
We would also have liked to see more detail on Maurice Stratégie to ensure central planning with private sector input.
Following this initial observation, our teams and our various commissions will be meeting for an in-depth analysis of the budgetary measures.
It is essential to understand all the implications of the decisions announced, as well as their application.
Once this exercise has been completed, MCCI will publish a full analysis.
The Chamber remains committed to active participation in public-private dialogue.
Consultation has always been, and remains, an essential tool for creating a business-friendly environment.
It is only by promoting cooperation and coordination between the public and private sectors that the country’s socio-economic development can be achieved in a sustainable and balanced way.