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Opening Of The Debates By The Leader Of The Opposition Followed By Minister Bholah

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The leader of the opposition kicked off the budget debates this morning. For his, it is a budget filled with “falsehoods, unspoken words and misinformation. He explained that the government is building “a war chest for the next elections” especially with the special funds. Xavier-Luc Duval stated that the figures of Renganaden Padayachy do not reflect reality.

Questionable veracity and deplorable delays

Besides credibility, veracity was also questioned by Xavier Luc Duval. He said, “it is a budget full of falsehood, unspoken words, exaggeration and misinformation” and went on to say that “the government is building a war chest for the next elections to manipulate Mauritians and influence voters”. He denied the government’s statement on special funds. “The GM had announced a few days earlier that the coffers were empty while the Special Funds fund weighs Rs 36 billion”. Going back to the budget deficit estimated at 4% by the Finance Minister, XLD said that “the real deficit will be 7.3% for next year”. He also denied the percentage of public debt announced at 78% to 84% “since 2014, the public debt has gone from Rs 238 billion to Rs 436 billion,” he said. He insisted that “electric cars were already duty-free”

On the subject of misinformation, there was talk of the 32% of GDP being used for Covid 19’s urgent needs. “When you calculate the various schemes, subsidies and business support, we are not more than half of the announced rate. There are billions in the special funds. They make the world believe that we have a world record of global Covid expenditure.”

The compensation of Rs 1000 to employees and also to pensioners to meet the loss of purchasing power was also discussed. “The GM has only half considered the solutions. This increase will not be enough to cope with the inflation which will be around 15% by the end of 2022. The GM has gone against other governments by maintaining fuel prices.” He predicted that “the compensation of Rs 1000 is only half of the loss of purchasing power for this section of the population. The pressure from the people will force the GM to come up with additional measures before October to compensate the people’s shortfall.

Elaborating on the measures for tourism, he called the Rs 200 per visitor measure ridiculous and pointed to the professionalism of the ministry, “they promised us 650,000 tourists and we will have 100,000 less. The Rs 200 allowance will not help, it is ridiculous”, as he blamed the destination marketing and the unreliable and costly methods. On the subject of land sales to foreigners, he was blunt, denouncing “favoritism and corruption to come “.

For him, this Budget represents “too little and too late, Mauritians will realize that they are just as poor as before”.  He said that “no MSM budget has addressed the real problems of the country, this government has taken a long time to act. The crisis has only just begun,” he concluded. He did not fail to point out in his speech that the country’s biggest problem remains the depreciation of the rupee.

For him, everything the government can come up with comes from the money of the Bank of Mauritius. But the Rs 36 billion that are in the special funds are artificial money. He stressed that we have to wait for what the rating agencies, such as Moody’s, will say about the use of this money. For Xavier-Luc Duval, the depreciation of the rupee is the biggest problem facing the country. The opposition leader also predicted that inflation will be 15% by the end of the year.

Sunil Bholah replies to XLD  

The Minister of Industrial Development, SMEs and Cooperatives, Sunil Bholah, was the first member of the government to respond to the Opposition Leader.  He defended the government tooth and nail, saying to the Opposition Leader, “I feel that the Opposition Leader refuses to appreciate things in their proper perspective. He should know that Mauritius has deployed the fourth largest aid package in the world, 32% of GDP, to support the economy and the most vulnerable over the last two years”. He also said that Xavier-Luc Duval must realize that the country is “slowly but surely recovering from a precarious situation” and that the urgent need to shore up the economy means that “excessive economic largesse can only jeopardise our recovery.”

Reiterating the GM’s vision, he said that “this Budget is the embodiment of our vision to reduce inequality and generate wealth. We do not pretend that the increase in consumer prices and consequent erosion of purchasing power are realities limited to Mauritius.” He elaborated on several other points in his defense, and Sunil Bholah mentioned that “even the MMM leader has acknowledged that the government has made efforts”. He ended by saying that the Rs 152 billion Budget “has been developed as a social safety net for the vulnerable, reducing inequalities and generating wealth”.

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