India urged to look at Mauritius as back up centre for BPO

Friday, 21 November 2003, 08:00 Hrs
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NEW DELHI: Mauritius Prime Minister Paul Raymond Berenger Friday urged Indian IT companies to invest in the island nation to set up disaster recovery and back-up offices for BPO services.

"We are proposing that Indian companies should look at Mauritius as a back-up centre for BPO services," said Berenger, addressing an interactive session with industry representatives.

On his first overseas visit after assuming charge as prime minister, Berenger said: "We are proposing that you (Indian companies) use our financial sectors to reach out to other African nations, particularly in south and east Africa. Our aim is to be a regional knowledge hub and seafood hub."

On a five-day official visit, Berenger is scheduled to sign several cooperation agreements with India later in the day after a delegation level meeting with Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

The agreements will cover renewable energy programme, free trade agreement, investment and further cooperation in the IT sector.

His hectic schedule during the day includes meetings with President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, Vice President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani and Minister of Human Resources Development Murli Manohar Joshi.

Describing India-Mauritius ties as "umbilical relations", Berenger denied media reports that Indian companies like Larsen and Toubro are being victimised in his country.

"Larsen and Toubro are in fact doing a great job of setting up a state-of-the-art convention centre in Mauritius in addition to a cyber tower in the Cyber City," he said.

"We would be the last one to be indulging in any India bashing. Give us some more time and we will resolve some of the visa problems for tourists and business people," Berenger, who is the first person of non-Indian origin to become prime minister in this Indian Ocean archipelago that has a majority population of Indian origin, said.

With Mauritius having put in place all the financial regulations as per global norms, Berenger invited Indian companies to invest and set up trading operations in the island nation to "move together in Africa".

Besides sugarcane, Mauritius has identified tourism, textile, financial sector and IT as the pillars of growth.

"We hope to make the whole island a cyber hub with India's help," he stressed.

A major sugar producer, Mauritius is currently focusing on power and ethanol production for exports from sugarcane by-products, Berenger said, identifying it as one of the areas where both the countries could cooperate.

Berenger said with the Supreme Court verdict last month upholding the double taxation treaty, there has been a surge in the incorporation of new companies in Mauritius.

This has also resulted in fresh flow of foreign institutional investors (FIIs) investing in the Indian market.

"We will not tolerate any abuse of the financial sector," the prime minister warned.

To promote the concept of using Mauritius as a disaster recovery centre for BPO services, Mauritius Minister of IT and Telecommunications D. Jeeha said a team had come to India last week to meet various leading companies in the field.

The 10-member official delegation is slated to visit Bangalore and Mumbai before returning to Mauritius Monday.

Already several Indian IT majors like Infosys, Satyam and Pentasoft are among 60 Indian companies that have set up operations in Mauritius.

Bilateral trade between the two countries has been showing a steady growth, going up from $166.17 million in 2001-02 to $181.9 million in 2002-03.

Source: IANS
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