Why allow foreigners to come and do business in Mauritius? What legal and institutional framework they operate? What consequences for Mauritian operators and unemployed youth? In response, Nawaz Noorbux invited in "Le Grand Journal" Ms. Khoudijah Boodhoo, responsible for cell Occupation Permit and Competitiveness at the Board of Investment (BoI), sociologist Malenn Oodiah and Amar Deerpalsing of the Federation of Small and Medium companies.
> How open will be Mauritius to foreigners?
Khoudijah Boodhoo: If we made a detour in history, we see that it is foreigners who are the basis of development. Starting with the Portuguese and the French and the English. The importation of foreign labor began under the British administration to work in the sugar industry. In the 70s, it is Hong Kong that have been pioneers in the free zone. They are always foreigners who are the basis for the development of our tourism industry. This has forced us to work with foreigners. Today, again, we appealed to foreign powers for the financial, medical, or ICT. Foreigners have brought us not only the skill but also the technology.
> Do you think today Mauritians still do not have the necessary expertise?
Khoudijah Boodhoo: Several Mauritians have the skills but it is not enough. For example, in financial services, is certainly a Mauritian professionals but we have not yet reached the critical mass to move in the direction and the desired speed. So we need the contribution of foreigners.
> My question is how far we can bring strangers? Will he set a number?
Khoudijah Boodhoo: I'll talk about the Occupational Permit which falls under the responsibility of BoI. 2006, date of its introduction, and to date, we issued 14,538 permits to foreigners in various industries. In the Budget, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance made reference to 5000 mid-term and 10,000 long term. Now, it is the BoI campaigning to achieve this goal. However, I would draw attention to the fact that we will not accept anyone. We have selection criteria to be met. There is also a lot of work being done upstream before granting Occupational Permit to an investor. Day value, 4256 passed by the foreign BoI.
> My question was: is that these foreigners are competing small Mauritian operators?
Amar Deerpalsing: Of course! I quote catering, commerce, trustees apartments. Some even sell mattresses. It is a sad fact that many consumers have been had and are now paying the consequences, especially with regard to after-sales service.
> What is your reading of the government's decision to open more of the country to foreigners?
Malenn Oodiah: First, one can not overlook the environment in which Mauritius evolves. Like it or not, we live in a globalized world in full with its rules, requirements and constraints. Mauritius can not function by cutting the rest of the world.
> In this case, the government must speak the language of truth to the people. That is to say that we still need foreign workers to their expertise in certain areas?
Malenn Oodiah: This is what happens in the world and not only in Mauritius. Three elements are attached: the free movement of goods, capital and people. There is what is called the "Capital nomad." Investors go around the world to find the best place to do business. The same thing is happening to men.
Some countries do not have the necessary expertise to ensure their own development. They need foreign expertise and offer the best packages to attract them. That is the reality, like it or not.
Mauritius must make the most of this situation while remaining vigilant. We are talking about the Chinese invasion but many bought in the Bordeaux region, including wine-producing castles that are the symbol of French heritage. They buy palaces, luxury hotels in the heart of Paris.
Finally, it is my duty to say that initially are Mauritians who developed the tourism sector and the foreigners came thereafter. It would be inappropriate to talk about the new settlers as does Amar Deerpalsing. Certainly, one can see something from a different angle but it must be remembered that Mauritius has always been a land of immigration and land of emigration.
Intervention Charles Ng, director Atom Travel
"My travel agency specialized in Chinese tourism. I think that Mauritians have enough skills as tour operator. I have been in this market for over twenty years. I invested my money, all my time and energy for Chinese tourists come to Mauritius. It is really unfair that after so many years of work and sacrifice, we give permits for foreign tour operators operating in Mauritius. It is we who have sown and it is we who have to harvest. The government must be more severe in licensing in this area.