The budget speech delivered by the Prime Minister of Mauritius last month reveals the key axes on which his government believes will be critical for transforming Mauritius into a high-income country. The 2018-2019 national budget, entitled Pursuing our Transformative Journey, follows a decidedly green economic model; that is, one that emphasizes strategies that promote inclusiveness and environmental protection as a means for achieving economic growth. At the centre of several of these strategies are key recommendations and insights that are consistent with PAGE’s green economy analyses and assessments.
Under the Mauritius Marshall Plan for Poverty – a plan that PAGE contributed to developing – a Social Register was developed to indentfy individuals vulnerable to falling into extreme poverty. Under the 2018-2019 budget, the Prime Minister announced that 6,400 individuals who are on the Social Register will receive a monthly subsistence allowance. The government’s decision to provide subsistence payments to individuals on the Social Register is a continuation of a policy embarked upon in the 2017-2018 national budget.
Sheltered Farming Scheme
The government intends to provide marketing, technical and financial assistance to set up 100 farms over the next two years under a Sheltered Farming Scheme. This assistance will be given by the Economic Development Board to new ‘agripreneurs’ to market their products both domestically and abroad. The Food and Agricultural Research and Extension Institute (FAREI) will provide technical assistance and mentoring to young graduates and SMEs that are developing agri-projects. Financial assistance from the government will come in the form of access to finance from the Development Bank of Mauritius and Maubkan at a discounted rate, while all income derived from these projects will be exempted from tax for the first 8 years. These three forms of assistance are consistent with recommendations made in the country’s PAGE supported Green Economy Assessment regarding linking sustainable agriculture producers to the markets, investing in research and extension for smart agriculture and developing incentives for conversion of land from conventional to sustainable agriculture.
Other budgetary measures
The government aims to encourage the emergence of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) with the introduction of a Certification Scheme to provide technical assistance to SMEs and cooperatives for accreditation to international standards and certifications. As recommended in the Green Economy Assessment, participation in international standards regimes, such as ISO standards, is important to increase the competitiveness of Mauritius’ companies for export opportunities.
Financial incentives will be provided to manufacturers to promote the recycling of water bottles. Waste management was identified as an influential sector for greening Mauritius’ economy in the green economy assessment. PAGE has supported policymakers in this sector by conducting an Industrial Waste Assessment that recommends actions for waste management.
Mauritius and PAGE
Mauritius joined the PAGE partnership in 2014 to support the country’s ambition to become an inclusive high-income country by 2030. At the request of the government, PAGE supported a Green Economy Assessment to inform possible pathways for Mauritius’ transition to a green economy. This study examined greening initiatives and opportunities in seven key sectors of the Mauritius economy, such as agriculture, manufacturing and waste, while suggesting potential actions for a green economy transition.