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AfricaMoney | August 23, 2017

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“Economic growth and social justice not mutually exclusive”

“Economic growth and social justice not mutually exclusive”

A Deputy General Manager at MCB Mozambique till 2011, 59-year-old Emmanuel Blackburn has interesting insights to share on the forthcoming Budget 2014, and the Mauritian economy in general.

A Deputy General Manager at MCB Mozambique till 2011, and, prior to that, a Bank Relations Manager at the bank’s International Division, Head Office till 2007, 59-year-old Emmanuel Blackburn has interesting insights to share on the forthcoming Budget 2014, and the Mauritian economy in general.

Heading a household of four comprising himself, his wife, a homemaker, and two daughters who are fast making their mark in the professional arena, Emmanuel has indeed aged with grace.

On his expectations from the 2014 Budget, the retired banker feels that the Government must ensure a budget with a twofold objective: enhancing economic growth whilst concurrently ensuring social justice. “These two are not mutually exclusive,” notes Emmanuel.

Regarding the financial secretary’s abrupt exit, Emmanuel feels that Ali Mansoor’s departure will not make ‘an iota of difference’ to the budget contents or its presentation.

“He is only a providential scapegoat and, actually, the present government is the one extending a red-carpet treatment to neoliberalism,” he rues.

On the sector with maximum growth potential which should be prioritized by the government in this budget, Emmanuel feels that a dual focus on SMEs and tourism would be the way to go.  He describes the entrepreneurship-driven SME sector as ‘vital for growth and employment’ and hence, a must to promote for economic welfare, while the tourism sector is the one which has the maximum ‘scope for rapid growth’.

“Better prospects in our traditional markets, sensible tariffs instead of the current sky-high hotel rates, and a new air access policy will make a world of difference to the tourism sector and give a massive thrust to the economy,” he notes.

On the biggest issues facing the economy today, Emmanuel identifies ‘a lack of a strong leadership and corruption’ as the most detrimental to the economic fabric of the nation.

If he were the finance minister for a day, Emmanuel avers, “I would strive to establish mutual trust with public and private economic stakeholders (employers/management and employees/Trade Unions) and instill faith in the future of Mauritius, which is a must for the island nation to succeed.”

The steps he would take as the most powerful figure in the financial policy space in Mauritius would be to boost public-private partnership, encourage workers’ participation in the capital of their enterprises, implement a fair mechanism for salary increase discussion, work out a dynamic fiscal policy (with focus on SMEs), lay emphasis on social housing and education, call for national solidarity by limiting social benefits to targeted segments of the economy and introduce a new air access policy to prevent the struggling Air Mauritius from jeopardizing the tourist industry.

Regarding measures of the 2013 budget that he would like the Government to build on in the current budget, Emmanuel points out that ‘ensuring sound macroeconomic management’ is an important criteria to push and promote in the face of price rise and slowing growth. “But its implementation is, of course, another story,” he sighs.

Finally, Emmanuel feels that sustainable development (as encapsulated in Maurice Ile Durable) is not only possible, but actually vital for a developing economy.

“Environmental sustainability and economic growth must go hand-in-hand and are indeed compatible concepts,” Emmanuel concludes.

An enlightened citizen is key to an enlightened nation. With more and more representatives of the common man reflecting on the state of the economy and proposing concrete measures to promote growth and welfare, Mauritius will make faster progress on the road to realizing its destiny.

-         From the editor’s desk, with inputs from Marie Anne-Julie Quenette

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