It is 50 years since Mauritius gained Independence, we are still very much a dependent nation in many ways. This is seen more starkly in the economic sphere where all Finance Ministers in the past made a bee line to the World Bank for aid at the drop of a hat. Cartoonists had a field day portraying them with the begging mug.
Needless to say that these aids were with strings attached and although the country was able to stay afloat the debt burden continued to accumulate. The vicious circle kept continuing until we used to be neck deep in debt during quite sometimes now. So in a way although the British left us they did not let go of their economic grip on the country and kept dictating to us in all spheres including governance.
True, we may have broken the shackles somewhat in the post 60 era where the country strove to assert itself vis-à-vis our colonial masters who until then had a stranglehold of not only the economy but all other facets of national life.
But even then they succeeded in making inroads into our affairs notably the economy particularly under right wing regimes who pandered to the west. Geo-politics too played its parts in the West dictating terms to small countries like Mauritius particularly during the height of the Cold War. All our governments of the past had little option but to cave into the demands imposed by the West in order to keep the country economically afloat.
Lending agencies such as the World Bank and the IMF who were acting on behalf of the West were imposing harsh conditions that not only held the country in the economic grip of the western powers but also forced it to compromise on matters of sovereignty as well.
Are we forever going to be dependent on western aid and genuflect before mandarins of the World Bank? Are we economically independent? These are the questions our economists should reflect on..
The questions many people still keep asking are: Are we going to be perennially at the mercy of the western lending institutions or are we going to break out of the shackles? We should now start looking for regional assistance that is shorn off conditions that impinge on sovereignty. Mauritius could find itself on the brink of bankruptcy after the effect of brexit if our government adopts an attitude of “laissez aller” or “laissez faire” on our economy.
The emergence of countries such as India and China as economic super powers could well act as a countervailing force to this dominance of the West in the economies of small countries such as Mauritius. The large-scale development assistance that has been coming from China and India are signs that we can extricate ourselves from this western dominance.
Our government should do more to steer the economy in a new direction in an endeavour to break out of the fetters that bound us to the West all these years. Certain Financial Institutions of our country seem to be white elephants and are far from being an asset to make Mauritius prosper financially against our massive debts and our poor economy. So our country is still a long way to reach an economic miracle. Let us hope that our new Minister of Good Governance will tackle this difficult problem to ease our economic situation.
Mauritius has got certain mechanism of exchange straightaway with 39 jurisdictions, essentially with the principal commercial partnership .But so far no efforts are being made to enhance new developments and progress. There are talks about new agreements supposedly to be made as part of negotiation with new countries but nothing is being done at that stage..