Mauritius plans new reforms to attract investors

Mauritius is planning new economic reforms to transform the Indian Ocean island into one of the top 10 most investment- and business-friendly locations in the world, a senior official said on November 2,2010.

A bold economic reform programme instituted in 2006 has seen Mauritius cut red tape and simplify taxes to lure foreign investors as it seeks to diversify its $10 billion economy, which depends heavily on tourism, textiles and sugar exports.

"What we are planning will be wider and deeper. The next generation of reforms is much more complex and costly. This is why we need assistance," said Vishnu Basant, Director, Development Cooperation at the Ministry of Finance.

"The time to do major reforms is now. The country has just come out of a general election," he said, without giving details of, or any timing for, the new reforms.

Mauritius was recently ranked by the World Bank as the easiest place to do business in Sub-Saharan Africa, and 20th globally among 183 economies. The World Bank's Doing Business 2011 report ranked Singapore as the world's easiest place to do business.

Mauritius has pitched itself as a bridge between Africa, India and China, with a flourishing offshore financial sector, that has allowed the island nation of 1.3 million people to pack an economic punch above its weight. It is also investing in other sectors such as information technology.

"The next generation of reform is more difficult to design because it involves more complex negotiations and a change in regulatory environment," Raj Makoond director of Joint Economic Council, a grouping of the island main business interest said.

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