Mauritius Reappoints Finance Minister After Graft-Appeal Successby
Pravind Jugnauth won appeal against graft conviction Wednesday
Former finance minister Lutchmeenairadoo quit due to illness
Pravind Jugnauth, the son of Mauritius’s prime minister, was reappointed as the Indian Ocean island nation’s finance minister, hours after winning an appeal against a conviction on charges of corruption.
Jugnauth, who served as finance minister from 2003 to 2005 and 2010 to 2011, was appointed on the recommendation of his father, Prime Minister Anerood Jugnauth, according to a statement by President Ameenah Gurib-Fakim. The annual budget that was scheduled to be announced on June 6 will be postponed, Jugnauth said Thursday after a swearing-in ceremony in Reduit, near the capital, Port Louis.
“Before deciding a new date, I have to meet the officers of my ministry, my colleague ministers and other stakeholders,” he said, adding that increasing foreign investment and creating more jobs will be his main priorities in the portfolio.
Mauritius is the easiest place in Africa to do business, according to the World Bank, while the African Development Bank ranks it as the most competitive economy in sub-Saharan Africa. The sugar- and textile-exporting nation is targeting becoming a high-income country, which is defined as an economy with a gross national income per capita above $12,735, by 2025.
Mauritius’s Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled in favor of Jugnauth’s appeal against a conviction of a conflict of interest under the country’s Prevention of Corruption Act. Jugnauth was found guilty by the country’s Intermediate Court in June after he was accused of using his influence to persuade the government to acquire Medpoint Clinic, partly owned by his brother-in-law, for 144 million rupees ($4.1 million) in 2010.
“It was highly questionable whether the appellant had the requisite guilty intent at the material time that he participated in a decision limited solely to a reallocation of the funds for payment to which Medpoint Clinic was already lawfully entitled, the more so when this was done at a time and in a situation where there was a total absence of any competing interests or conflict of interests,” Supreme Court Judge Kheshoe Matadeen said.
Jugnauth, 53, is the leader of the Mouvement Socialiste Militant that has ruled Mauritius since December 2014 in an alliance with the Parti Mauricien Social Democrate and Muvmen Liberater. He was forced to resign from his post as technology minister after his conviction, saying he was “very disappointed” with the ruling.
Anerood Jugnauth, 86, had been acting finance minister after Vishnu Lutchmeenaraidoo stepped down from the post earlier this year because of illness.