The Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development, Dr Renganaden Padayachy, presented, on Friday, at the National Assembly, the National Budget 2023 – 2024, which he stated was underpinned by the guiding principle ‘To Dare and to Care’ with a view to providing to the population a future that they deserve, as a nation.
Thus, putting people at the heart of the policies was the main thrust of the Budget presented by Dr Padayachy. The latter indicated that the 2023-2024 Budget would prioritise, among others, investing in the purchasing power, and welfare of citizens directly; accompanying the most vulnerable of society and decreasing inequality; and making the fiscal regime even fairer, and more equal. “As a caring Government, we are conscious of the rising cost of living for thousands of households,” he stated.
On that score, Dr Padayachy enumerated a series of measures to preserve the purchasing power of the people, the most vulnerable members of society. He thus announced an increase of the basic retirement pension to reach Rs 11,000, as well as a rise of Rs 1,000 on basic widow’s pension, basic invalidity pension and basic orphan’s pension. “Combined with the CSG Retirement Benefit, a retiree aged 65 and above will today obtain at least Rs 12,000 monthly,” he said.
Other initiatives to enable Mauritian households to sustain their purchasing power comprise the introduction, as from the 1st July 2023, of a ‘Revenu Minimum Garanti’ so that no individual in full-time employment would have a revenue of less than Rs 15,000; a provision of Rs 4.7 billion as subsidies to maintain the price of LPG, flour and rice; a reduction in the price of mogas from Rs 74.10 to Rs 69 per litre; and the payment, over the next financial year, of the CSG Income Allowance of Rs 1,000 to all those earning up to Rs 50,000 monthly, and a hike to Rs 2,000 to those earning up to Rs 25,000 monthly.
The health and well-being of children was also at the forefront of the 2023-2024 Budget Speech with significant investment in their education, healthcare, and safety. Hence, the Finance Minister affirmed that Government would be providing a CSG Child Allowance of Rs 2,000 monthly for some 48,000 children aged up to three years old; an increase in the monthly allowance granted under the Foster Care Scheme in respect of a child from Rs 8,000 to Rs 12,000; introduction of an enhanced allowance of Rs 15,000 for a child with special needs; coverage of the full cost of overseas treatment for paediatric patients up to the age of 17 years who require medical treatments not available locally; and financial assistance for children diagnosed with cancer to cover the full costs of cancer care and treatment in foreign hospitals or in local private hospital.
Another flagship initiative, included in the 2023-2024 Budget, is overhauling the tax regime to make personal income tax completely progressive and remove the solidarity levy. Dr Padayachy explained that, as from this financial year, all income would be taxed incrementally, with the chargeable income divided into different revenue brackets with a specific tax rate starting at zero percent and capped at a maximum of 20 percent.
Strengthening the foundations of the economy
The Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development, Dr Renganaden Padayachy, in the Budget 2023-2024, moreover talked of various measures to pursue economic growth, and make of Mauritius an attractive destination to work and live. These relate to improving business environment; reaching full employment especially among women; major reforms of migration policies to recruit international talents; supporting the manufacturing, ICT/BPO, blue economy, and financial sectors; boosting new sectors such as the life sciences and biotechnology sector.
As regards the transformation of Mauritius into a sustainable economy, the 2023-2024 Budget also provides steps, be it in terms of energy, water, or the circular economy, to protect the environment and reduce carbon footprint, while strengthening infrastructure.
Investments in key areas of economic and social development remained at the forefront of the 2023-2024 budget with some Rs 2 billion to be injected in the agricultural sector, and Rs 15.7 billion to further enhance the quality of health services. Dr Padayachy also laid emphasisan on efficient and inclusive education system, development of the youth, and achieving long-term water security.
The finance minister underlined that the measures unveiled in the 2023-2024 Budget would contribute to the robust growth of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to attain 8 %, similar to the 2022-2023 timeframe.
Dr Padayachy informed, too, that total expenditure would amount to Rs 200 billion and total revenue would be of Rs 179 billion, resulting in a budget deficit of 2.9% of GDP. He added that public sector debt was expected to go down from 86.1% in June 2022 to 79% by June 2023, and 71.5% by end of June 2024. “The target in the mid-term is to be at pre-pandemic levels, that is 60%,” he affirmed.
The Budget 2023-2024 makes provision for a series of measures to promote Mauritius as the most preferred destination on the international market with a target of achieving a target of 1.4 million tourists and Rs 100 billion of tourism receipts for the next financial year. The Finance Minister, Dr Renganaden Padayachy, announced this evening, a series measures during his presentation of the Budget 2023-2024.
The objective of Government is to transform Mauritius into a Green-Certified Destination by 2030 and in this respect, the Tourism Authority will be reformed with a focus on fostering sustainable tourism development. One of the key measures announced in Budget 2023-2024 is an increase in the budget of the Promotion and Destination Marketing of the MTPA from Rs 400 million to Rs 500 million.
Moreover, to improve the visibility of the hospitality industry, the amount under the Participation in International Fairs SME Refund Scheme is being increased by 25 percent to Rs 250,000.
As regard the development of medical tourism and the silver economy, it is imperative that patients, retirees and their family be offered a hassle-free stay. To this end the budget caters for the following: medical patients and retirees as well as up to two accompanying caretakers will be eligible for a premium visa; there will be no obligation for a foreign patient or retiree to open a bank account in Mauritius; and medical insurance access to foreign retirees above 60 years old.