Honourable Pravind Jugnauth, Minister of Finance and Economic Development
Mr Dev Manraj, Financial Secretary and Deputy National Authorising Officer for European Development Fund,
Mr Gerard Sanspeur, Chairman of the Board of Investment,
Mr Arnaud Dalais, Chairman of Business Mauritius,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a pleasure to be here today to sign the Financing Agreement of 270 million Rupees between the European Union and Mauritius. This grant will support the implementation of the Economic Partnership Agreement between the European Union and Mauritius.
This new European Union support will focus on improving the business and investment climate in Mauritius. This has the potential to boost economic growth, job creation and sustainable development.
The European Union attaches great importance to its partnership with the Republic of Mauritius.
The opportunities offered under the Economic Partnership Agreement are a testimony of the continued and strong commitment of the European Union to support Mauritius in achieving the goals set under Vision 2030.
Mauritius, together with Madagascar, Seychelles and Zimbabwe, signed the Economic Partnership Agreement in 2009 and it became effective as from 2012. The European Union has already provided funding to enhance the capacity of the Mauritius Customs and the Mauritius Standards Bureau.
The major cornerstone of the Economic Partnership Agreement is that it provides market access without any quotas or tariffs to the European Union single market of 500 million consumers. It also promotes regional integration in the Eastern and Southern Africa region as it encourages interlinkages between ESA partners countries and remains open to those who would be willing to join the EU and 4 ESA signatories.
Open markets create opportunities for growth by making it easier to trade and by attracting foreign direct investment.
But the whole process needs to be part of a broader and coherent set of market-oriented policies and regulatory framework.
And without an attractive business and investment climate, the benefits of the Economic Partnership Agreement would not be fully tapped.
Creating that supportive coherent environment is not easy. And that's why the European Union is committed, through this agreement to support the efforts of the Government of Mauritius in improving the business and investment climate. This demonstrates the holistic approach adopted by the European Union for the implementation of the Economic Partnership Agreement.
Improving the investment and business climate is essential to build competitiveness. The European Union is keen to support Mauritius in improving the business environment and enhance investments and private sector development.
In this regard, reforms in area of business permits make an important contribution towards reducing the hurdles in the ease of Doing Business.
Under this programme, Mauritius will be able to process permits applications through an electronic platform which will be a single point of entry for applications for permits and licences.
This modern and efficient practice will not only reduce the time and cost to the private sector, but will improve transparency and decrease possibilities for red-tape and corruption.
Decreasing administrative burdens for businesses and removing barriers to investment are key to unleash economic growth potential. They offer the opportunity for an overall more efficient allocation of resources and reduced business transaction costs.
We know from international evidence-based research that less cumbersome regulations are strongly correlated to better governance and better institutions. For instance, all 29 OECD economies which rank in the top 50 on the ease of doing business, score above 75 % rating globally on measures of efficient regulatory processes and strong legal institutions.
Reducing the barriers for investments include reforms in a number of areas.
First of all, I would like to encourage the reform process under way to cut drastically the time it takes to deliver Building and Land Use Permits and clearances for construction related projects.
Second: Streamlining the business licensing process would also need improved interaction among public sector agencies and administrative readiness of regulators.
Third area: Given the challenges to implement reforms, this programme includes a strong component of capacity building that will enable government departments and public agencies to improve accountability and respond more effectively in developing a conducive business environment.
And finally, there is little point in reforming business licenses if there are no mechanisms in place to ensure that positive results are not eroded by creeping re-regulation and the re-emergence of inappropriate licenses and regulatory practices.
For this reason, the project also includes undertaking Regulatory Impact Assessments as an immediate and integral part of the licensing reform process to improve policy formulation.
We are glad to see that the project that we support aims at involving those who need public support the most: women, youth and SMEs.
In sum, let me close by noting that the programme to improve the governance framework of the investment and business climate will not only impact on private sector development but also aims to bring about social benefits through poverty elimination and inclusive growth.
Thank you for your kind attention.