Will Mansoor’s departure affect the budget?
Does the budget process indeed rely on one person to take it forward? With the ill-timed resignation of financial secretary Ali Mansoor, the island nation hopes it does not. (Image: www.unhcr.org)
With only a month left to go for Budget 2014, the departure of Mauritius’ financial secretary Ali Mansoor does not spell good news for the country. In this context, it would be a fruitful exercise to consider the budget exercise and if the process does indeed rely on one person to take it forward.
The finance minister and vice prime minister, Xavier-Luc Duval, is the first to argue that the departure of the financial secretary will have no impact on the preparation of the national budget. Asserting that the budget is not a one-man exercise but the mastermind of a great team of professionals at the Ministry of Finance, Duval emphasizes that the mission of the government is to meet the expectations of the population.
Indeed, while Mansoor Ali was powering the preparation of the budget, he was far from alone in handling the delicate exercise. Other important officials involved in the preparation of the 2014 Budget are Patrick Wang Yip Wing, acting Financial Secretary, and Chellapermal Radhakrishna, Deputy financial secretary, supported by a highly qualified and professional team. And, the contribution of the Minister of Finance himself cannot be too highly regarded.
The financial secretary since 2006, Mansoor is seen as the mastermind behind the last eight budgets presented for the country. Assumptions abound over the reasons that led to his resignation, the most plausible being professional conflict between the financial secretary and the Governor of the Bank of Mauritius. Mansoor for his part maintains that his decision to quit was motivated by family reasons as well as an offer made to him by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for him to assume a directorship at the African department of the IMF as from January next year.
The conflict between the fiscal policy championed by Mansoor and the monetary policy advocated by the Bank of Mauritius suggests that the latter will now prevail at the Ministry of Finance. Xavier-Luc Duval, has so far consistently supported Mansoor and will have to countenance a blow to his policy stance. The question of the hour is whether Prime Minister Navin Ramgoolam and the finance minister will continue to share the same views on the preparation and content of the 2014 Budget?
Meanwhile, Dev Manraj, a former financial secretary who was heading the Ministry in the 1990s has already been chosen to step into Mansoor’s shoes. Manraj has wide-ranging experience and is very much in a position to shoulder the responsibilities being conferred upon him. He is known for his tactful approach, and has been looking into several sensitive matters as the Senior Adviser at the Prime Minister’s Office, including the Errors and Anomalies chapter of the last Pay Research Bureau (PRB) report, recommending on the setup of the University of Mauritius and chairing the National Energy Policy committee. Despite his long absence from the Ministry, he is still well networked with various stakeholders and is perfectly poised to take the 2014 Budget forward and implement its policies.
Incidentally, the Annual Meetings of the IMF/ World Bank in Washington DC is due this week and the financial secretary of Mauritius is usually required to attend the same. So, the incoming financial secretary will already have enough on his plate, apart from the 2014 Budget of course.
Source: Mauritius Times, business.mega.mu