Thanks to Mr. Drew for keeping this place ship-shape during my absence. I trust you have all enjoyed his postings. I thought they were so good that Mr Drew will be posting here more frequently in the future.
As for me, well I have had a pleasant trip away and am now back in the UK again. As usual, I could not help myself whilst abroad from speaking to all and sundry about the political and economic make up of the country. I managed a few conversations with taxi drivers, a lunch with some hotel owners and a dinner with a banker to gather my information.
The beautiful country that is Mauritius, a former UK colony until 1968, has had a pleasant history until hitting the buffers more recently. They have a stable democratic government but turned 2 years ago to Labour to see if they could improve the country.
What has gone wrong? Well firstly the WTO rulings on sugar, just like Caribbean Islands that I have blogged about before, have hit Mauritius hard. 45% of their exports are sugar and the price has collapsed, this has ruined small farmers and families who have had to sell up to more mechanised conglomerates, thereby increasing the unemployment rate to over 10%.
Secondly, the foresight of the government in the 80's led to the growth of a large textiles industry, but sadly this has been crippled in recent years as wages grew and owners decided to move off to India and China. interestingly the tax breaks that were given to allow the development of the industry were removed and this seems to have been a key cause of the owners upping sticks.
This leaves just the tourist industry as the main source of growth, with many fine hotels springing up over the country. Many graduates work in this sector, even though they are just waiters and cooks. Quite a waste really and still relatively low paid even by local standards.
Despite all the hardship, of which there is alot, there is no civil unrest and the people are a pleasantly laid back bunch. The island now though is experiencing some quite large net emigration each year.
One thing that stuck out to me was the linguistic abilities of all the people. Everyone speaks English and French which are jointly the national languages and a good proportion speak Hindi too as 60% of the population is of Indian origin. Despite this no one seems to have thought that call centres would be a good business here, especially as they are in a timezone only 3 hours ahead of Europe and similar to India....