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Honourable (Mrs) Fazila Jeewa-Daureeawoo, Vice Prime-Minister, Minister of Local Government and Outer Islands, Minister of Gender Equality, Child Development and Family Welfare
Mr Charles Cartier, Chairman of the Economic Development Board,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a pleasure for me to be here this evening for the official launch of the Mauritius National Electronic Licencing System (NELS).
I am happy to see that this important business facilitation project, that the European Union is supporting with more than 200 million Rupees under the Economic Partnership Agreement, will greatly contribute to the ease of doing business in Mauritius.
This programme is a clear example of how the EU-Mauritius partnership works and delivers!
Here, let me say that the European Union’s role is much more than providing funds.
It’s about partnering in creating the conditions Mauritius needs to succeed as a modern nation.
This is why the European Union is putting more and more efforts into supporting trade, investment, entrepreneurship and an innovative private sector in Mauritius.
The Economic Partnership Agreement provides privileged market access to the European Union's single market of 500 million consumers - a market that already receives the majority of Mauritian exports.
Moreover, the European Union is the main provider of Foreign Direct Investment to Mauritius, hence contributing to steering economic activity with spill over effects in terms of transfer of technology and internationalisation of domestic businesses.
This strategic win-win partnership clearly highlights that open markets create opportunities for growth by making it easier to do business.
The Economic Partnership Agreement is not only a trade agreement but includes a clear development aspect. The development opportunities offered under the Agreement provide testimony to the continued and strong commitment of the EU in supporting Mauritius in achieving the Vision 2030 targets.
The European Union support to set up the National Electronic Licencing System focuses on improving the business climate to attract investments and to contribute to private sector development, by enhancing transparency and regulatory framework.
The e-licencing system comes on top of a number of reforms introduced by the government that have allowed Mauritius to rank at the 20th place worldwide in the World Bank Ease of Doing Business Index.
Actually, Mauritius is ahead of a number of European Union Member States! This shows the impressive progress Mauritius made the past two years in improving the business environment. This clearly reflects the Government’s strong commitment to narrow the gap with top performing economies.
I am confident that a constantly improving investment climate - coupled with simplified processes for starting up and conducting businesses - will trigger more private sector investment.
The business community expects the delivery of government programmes and services to be simple, seamless and connected.
And I think I can safely say that the National Electronic Licencing System is going to be a game-changer for processing business permits through a single point of entry, dealing with both applications for permits and licences.
The National Electronic Licencing System is a highly innovative approach to business development, unique in this region!
I believe that improving the business environment will allow the creation of a vibrant and competitive business sector, which would lead to a stronger and more resilient economy.
But it will also strengthen governance structures as this modern and efficient system will not only reduce the time and cost to the private sector, but will decrease possibilities for administrative mal-practices and corruption.
I understand that the Economic Development Board has worked out an action plan for rolling out the Building and Land Use Permit across all the District Councils and Municipalities by end of June. We also expect that additional business permits and licences would be operational soon for the benefit of private investors and citizens.
As you see, the National Electronic Licencing System is more than just the flow of information between agencies. Public institutions would need to develop a collective mind-set, an understanding of how each agency operates and working arrangements that cut across organisational boundaries need to be made.
However, I would like also to emphasise that the National Electronic Licencing System is not only an IT infrastructure for obtaining business permits and licences, but creates a major structural change.
I believe that resource efficiency as well as an improved regulatory governance framework are essential ingredients for long-term economic and social success.
It is therefore crucial that government's business processes are managed appropriately, and that public agencies work together constructively in the search for innovative solutions to complex issues
Let me explain in a bit more detail.
As Mauritius has the right aspiration – and capacities - to be among the best performers and a model for the region and beyond, reducing the barriers to investments will have to include policy, legal and institutional reforms in a number of areas.
First of all, I would like to further encourage the reform process underway to streamline the business licensing process. This requires improved interaction among public sector agencies and administrative readiness of regulators. The setting up of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Doing Business is the right approach to coordinate and ensure coherency in the implementation of policy and institutional reforms.
- Second: Given the challenges to implement reforms, the EU support includes a strong component of capacity building and technical assistance. This will help strengthening public regulatory agencies’ capacity to improve decision-making processes which would contribute – inter alia - to reducing the time to obtain clearance for business permits and licences.
- Third: Discussions have already been initiated with the OECD to provide technical support to Mauritius for the implementation of Regulatory Impact Assessment framework. This will enable Mauritius to avoid creeping re-regulation and the re-emergence of inappropriate licenses and regulatory practices.
- Fourth, I wish to highlight that one component of the EU support to Mauritius will also focus on the implementation of the Intellectual Property framework which is a pre-condition to scale-up international investment. The introduction of the Intellectual Property legal framework will be instrumental to unleash the private sector investment potential in innovation and value added creation too.
All this shows EU's modern and holistic approach in supporting to improve the investment climate in Mauritius.
To sum up, these improvements will not only impact on private sector development but also aims to bring about social benefits through poverty elimination and inclusive growth.
We all have a responsibility to work together to create an enabling environment to provide sustained long-term opportunities for growth.
EU's support is there to make a difference!
Thank you for your kind attention.