The newly-released Mauritius Country Economic Memorandum, Through the Eye of a Perfect Storm – Coming Back Stronger from the COVID-19 Crisis, says the COVID-19 crisis presents policy makers with an opportunity to confront long-standing challenges.
“The current crisis brought to the fore the need to address long standing challenges to inclusive growth – unlocking investment, restoring competitiveness, maintaining inclusiveness, and doing more with fewer public resources,” noted Idah Pswarayi-Riddihough, World Bank Country Director for Mauritius, Mozambique, Madagascar, Comoros and Seychelles. “This is the time to accelerate the recovery and re-emerge from the storm stronger than before with the adoption of a new series of reforms.”
The report highlights four main pillars for a strong recovery:
- A new industrial policy approach that focuses state support on innovation and technology transfer, while addressing cross-cutting issues in skills development, competition, natural resource management, and public private partnerships to promote productive private sector investment.
- Reversing the ongoing decline in competitiveness by leveraging foreign direct investment and new preferential trade opportunities to upgrade exports, while focusing Covid-19 support measures on managing the fallout from the pandemic in the short term.
- Maintaining Mauritius’ inclusive development path will require renewed and more comprehensive efforts to promote labor market participation, especially for low educated women and youth, and more attention to early childhood and second chance education. Moving resources from the overly generous basic pension system to more targeted and effective anti-poverty programs would help cope with the increased social needs and reduced fiscal space.
- Further strengthening of the public sector, in terms of policy coherence in complex, multi-sector reforms, and implementation capacity. Close collaboration with the private sector is also key.
“This report lays out a short- and medium-term agenda to reignite inclusive and sustainable growth in Mauritius,” added Erik von Uexkull, World Bank Representative for Mauritius. “While the global situation is slowly improving with the increased availability of vaccines, this is not a storm that countries can simply ride out and return to business as usual. For Mauritius, the best way forward will be to focus on its proven ability to adapt and preserve its social contract by laying the foundations for future inclusive growth. This can start now, under the new budget.”