Assemblée Nationale… Sir Anerood Jugnauth a-t-il fait son dernier discours sur un budget national?



Y aura-t-il de gros développements politiques bientôt? Nul ne le sait. En attendant revenons sur le discours du jour du Premier ministre au parlement.

INTERVENTION OF THE PRIME MINISTER ON THE 2016-2017 BUDGET
NATIONAL ASSEMBLY – 16 AUGUST 2016

Madam Speaker,

It is with a deep sense of pride that I stand to speak on the 2016-2017 Budget. I heartily congratulate the Minister of Finance and Economic Development for presenting to the Nation a well thought out, bold and daring budget. I am proud because the Minister has brilliantly lived up to the trust I placed in him.

I am proud because I am confident that the leadership that I will leave as legacy to this country is mature, wise and farsighted and espouses the human touch that makes the difference in the heart of the People.

Indeed, Madam Speaker, we have in the 2016-2017 Budget the trait and imprint of a Minister and leader who has addressed carefully both the social and economic concerns of the country. He has gone out of the traditional thinking pattern to embrace new approaches that have impressed the nation at large.

The positive titles in the press and the nationwide positive reactions are testimony to the wide acclamation the Budget has commanded.

I have been in this august Assembly for years as Prime Minister but never before had I heard Honourable Paul Bérenger as Leader of the Opposition saying “c’est un budget intéressant”.

I compliment him for the compliment.

I also heard with much interest Honourable Bhagwan stating that there are “positive and innovative measures” in the Budget. There is no doubt therefore that the Budget presented by the Minister of Finance has rallied the nation except for the Labour Party that no longer has any credibility in the eyes of the vast majority of the population.

I read with amusement the former Prime Minister and leader of the Labour Party saying that the Minister of Finance “est en rupture avec la réalité”. The response to that on Facebook has been overwhelmingly damning for him. He has been abruptly reminded of the reality he inflicted on the nation with his coffers overflowing with bank notes, mistresses, nepotism, corruption and anti-social measures. From what I have read on Facebook, I can say without any hesitation that the former Prime Minister has become not only the nightmare, but also the laughing stock of the population and that his gesticulations no longer impress or frighten anyone.

Honourable Shakeel Mohamed has hammered the nail further in the coffin of the Labour Party and retorted cynically to his Leader by stating in his intervention last Thursday that “the Labour Government under Navin Ramgoolam was disconnected from the reality”.

What a slap was it in the face of the former Prime Minister?
The honourable member, however, went on to say that he cannot see how the budget is a “budget de rupture”.

I disagree totally with him as it is amply clear that the measures in the 2016-2017 budget address both the social and economic realities and challenges faced by the country.

Madam Speaker, as I said earlier, Budget 2016-2017 embraces new approaches and innovative responses. It inspires a much needed wave of change and liberates the economy from the chains of the past.

It is a budget forged out of a genuine willingness to satisfy the aspirations of our youth and the population at large.

And more to it, Madam Speaker, the 2016-2017 Budget lays down the ten pathways to transform Mauritius into what has
been described in the Government Programme 2015-2019, as a truly forward looking, environmentally sustainable, economically vibrant and innovative country with modern infrastructure, global connectivity, high skills, technology and socially inclusive development.

The road to the Second Economic Miracle is now wide open. We have to tread confidently with zeal and determination. We have to be ambitious. We have to act like achievers.

I have retained one sentence of the Budget Speech which summarises the underlying approach of the Minister. [I quote]: “The challenges of tomorrow cannot be met with our mindset, policies and actions locked in the paradigm of yesterday”. [Unquote].

Indeed, Madam Speaker, the 2016-2017 Budget is set to achieve meaningful change which is the motto of our Government Programme. It is meant to be a game-changer. It is meant to usher in a new cycle of growth and shape a new Mauritius where there will be opportunities for one and all.
In the Budget, the Minister of Finance has ensured that there is a share for everyone :
• from the young student still in primary school to the adult attending university;
• from the mother cooking food for her family every day to the big corporations providing jobs to thousands and contributing to economic development; and
• from the citizen worried about the deteriorating environment to the technology-savvy person willing to develop mobile applications.

Indeed, the ten key strategies highlighted in the budget touch upon every aspect of society and lay the foundation for a modern and technology driven Mauritius.

This economic roadmap will be driven by our very own Mauritian entrepreneurs.

The objective is to develop a vibrant SME sector. And the budget rightly comes forward with measures for this to happen.

Payment of trade fees have been suspended for three years. Nobody thought about it before. Tax holidays are being given to SMEs and a National SME Incubator Scheme will be created.

Furthermore, access to finance and technical expertise will be made easier with the announced SME parks, SME Financing Scheme, revival of LEMS, factoring services and a new Venture Capital Fund.

I think the message to all entrepreneurs is this: Forget all the hassles. Focus on your business. Develop it and make it a success. All the necessary tools are now available.

However, Madam Speaker, the expected success cannot be achieved without the proper support and facilities in place. Our economy possesses good IT infrastructure and connectivity and we are lucky to be situated in a strategic position of the globe.

Mauritius ranks first in Sub-Saharan Africa in the Global Competitiveness Report and, according to ICT Price Basket, also offers the cheapest ICT services in Africa. Yet, much remains to be done.

The country must close the digital divide with advanced economies to be more competitive and therefore more attractive. Being first in Africa is no longer enough. We aim and are aiming much higher, regionally and also globally.

This is why the proposed Information Highway to share information among public sector agencies comes at a most appropriate time. This initiative alongside new e-services announced in the public sector will provide a more convenient lifestyle for all our citizens. Queues and waiting time will decrease.
We will save on both time and costs. In turn, this will lead to a rise in efficiency and productivity. Mauritius will thus become more competitive.

And these gains will ultimately benefit businesses. It will pave the way for Mauritius to become a global centre for business and financial activities.

Mauritius will open up and become even more accessible.

The Bank of Mauritius is coming up with a National Payment Switch while MEXA and Government aim to develop a national e-commerce platform. This will allow worldwide selling of products and services.

The domestic environment is also being enhanced. 153 billion rupees will be spent over the next five years to enhance our infrastructure and drastically change the socio-economic landscape.

Numerous projects will be executed. Prominent among these is the Metro Express project.

The current transport system is a major source of pressure and stress for our citizens.

The Metro Express project will provide a lasting solution to this problem. This project will redesign our towns, create new growth poles and cut down pollution. But the biggest benefit will be for our citizens.
Anxiously waiting for the bus and then spending hours in traffic jams will be things of the past. Moreover, the death toll from road accidents is set to go down.

Madam Speaker, the former Prime Minister dares to say that LRT is his project and that my Government has had to backpedal after initially freezing it. Allow me, Madam Speaker, to enlighten the population on the LRT project.

Everybody knows that the MSM-MMM Government of 2000-2005 had decided to go ahead with the LRT project. However, when the Labour Party was in power in the 2006-2010 period, they preferred the Bus Rapid Transit system.

The Prime Minister and his Minister of Public Infrastructure at that time defended forcefully the BRT, both in this august assembly and outside. Then, for the 2010 general elections, the MSM insisted for the LRT project to be brought back on the national agenda as the party had made of LRT a lynchpin of its socio-economic transformation strategy.

I am informed that the then Prime Minister reluctantly accepted that the LRT be mentioned in the electoral manifesto of the then l’Alliance de l’Avenir. Following the general elections, the LRT project was revived by the then and present Minister of Finance. There had been a few meetings where it had been found that the cost would not exceed 15 billion Rupees.

Despite all efforts to persuade the then Prime Minister to opt for the LRT project, he kept on insisting on BRT, until the time he made an official visit to Singapore. On his return, he said he had been seduced and started defending LRT with zeal. I will tell you in a moment, to what extent the seduction reached. But, when the cost figures were known, the Nation was shocked.

From 15 billion Rupees, the cost escalated to 24.8 billion Rupees, nearly 10 billion Rupees more in a mere three year lapse of time. At that cost the LRT project was simply not affordable. And when this Government came to power, we decided to freeze it on a question of affordability. It is only when I had been made aware in March this year of certain information and new elements as regards the cost of the project that I gave the green light for the project to be revisited.

I draw attention to the word AFFORDABLE mentioned in the Budget Speech. The Metro Express project, I insist, have been revived and will be implemented as we now have guarantee on affordability.

In due course, the genuine cost will be known and then the population will discover what happened during the seduction exercise that started in Singapore and was pursued in Mauritius.

I heard the former Prime Minister saying so passionately at a public gathering that he brought to Mauritius a lady Rottweiler from Singapore to pilot the project. I sought for information and understood the real reason why the former Prime Minister suddenly got seduced by LRT. I have information on a particular ‘tunnel experience’. Madam Speaker, I will refrain from going any further on that.

The Metro Express will become reality under this Government. That is more important than anything else.

And history always records the achievers for the common good of a whole nation, not the greedy scoundrels who loot for their selfish interests.

Madam Speaker, I now come to the Heritage City Project. I will be frank and direct as usual. I am really sad by the turn of events. It was a project that would have portrayed the advanced country we want Mauritius to become. It would have been the icon of our future development path. It would have a model in terms of public sector efficiency and productivity.

But views diverge largely on the project and it was decided to set it aside. As Prime Minister evolving in a democratic system and within an Alliance, I have to let the majority have its way and I stand by that collective decision.

Madam Speaker, some in this House and outside, including the former Prime Minister, have argued that the Minister of Finance has disavowed me by insisting on construction and property development as the main pillar of economic development.

First of all, the 2016-2017 Budget does not put all the eggs in the basket of property development.
It covers the whole spectrum of our economic sectors and gives a boost to all of them.

Second, I never said that construction and property development should be stopped.
I opined that we should also focus on the other sectors of our economy so that there is a boom at a point in time and that would mean we have achieved our objective of delivering a Second Economic Miracle.

That is exactly what the Minister of Finance has done through the Budget and I congratulate him for that.
Madam Speaker, Mauritius has been amongst the first countries to respond concretely to the Brexit threat on its trade and economy.

The decision announced in the Budget to set up a major Air Freight Scheme which will entail a 40 percent reduction by Air Mauritius of the air freight cost to Europe will no doubt improve the competitiveness of our exports, mainly our textile products and apparel. Government will underwrite the scheme for two years. I believe it is a major initiative which has to be commended.

Madam Speaker, I always insist on the fact that socio-economic development must not be done at the cost of destroying our environment. Mauritius is already a premier tourist destination, known for its pristine beaches, blue lagoon and greenery.

Yet, I believe that the time has come to take things to another level. The word is SUSTAINABILITY. We are building for the generations to come.

We are building a green and a blue economy. Never before have so many measures been announced for blue and green economy.

Back in December 2015, Mauritius signed the COP 21 Agreement and committed itself to producing energy from renewable sources. Indeed, we simply cannot continue to do things as they were being done in the past. The time for change has come. Consequently, CEB will create a renewable energy company, which will ultimately become a special vehicle for the production of electricity from solar photo voltaic systems of up to 15 Megawatts. I fully support this initiative.

The company will subsequently open its shareholding to SMEs, cooperative societies and small investors, thus bringing the democratisation process in the energy sector to another level.

Production of electricity will be liberalised. The SSDG and recently announced MMDG Net Metering schemes by CEB have benefitted from a good response and attracted many people. It shows that the move towards renewable energy is the right one; one that is supported by the population.

Feasibility studies will be carried out on production of electricity through solar panels placed on roof tops of houses and the CEB will invest 400 million rupees to increase the grid absorption capacity of intermittent energy from 148 to 160 Megawatts by 2018.

It will also procure battery storage systems so as to become resilient to the intermittent nature of renewable energy. Furthermore, there will now be no VAT on Photovoltaic Inverters and batteries.
We believe in a green economy and we believe in protecting this beautiful environment of ours. We are now bringing our beliefs and wishes to reality.

Madam Speaker,
I now come to the Blue Economy.

In addition to the avenues that have so far been explored, namely aquaculture, marine renewable energy and deep water applications for cooling facilities, we seek to explore our seabed for economic benefits.

The prospects of finding and exploiting hydrocarbons and minerals in our Exclusive Economic Zone would be a potential game changer for our economy. I am pleased to announce that we are inviting Expressions of Interest for the conduct of exploration surveys in our waters.

My office has been monitoring very closely the progress in the Joint Management of the Extended Continental Shelf between Mauritius and Seychelles.

The two countries are now jointly exercising sovereign rights for the purpose of exploring and exploiting seabed resources.

Mauritius and Seychelles launched a call for proposal for the conduct of geophysical surveys in the Joint Zone.
I can announce that seven international companies responded and a shortlisting has been carried out jointly by the two States. The selection exercise is expected to be completed by the end of this year.

Madam Speaker, the picture will not be complete if we were not to include a full assessment of our marine living and non-living resources.

A specialised Department for the Continental Shelf, Maritime Zones Administration and Exploration has been set up under my Office for the administration of the continental shelf, maritime delimitation and for the development of the seabed exploration activities.

In collaboration with the Commonwealth Secretariat and all the relevant stakeholders, this department has completed a first draft of an Offshore Petroleum Bill and a Seabed Mineral Bill.
The Attorney General’s Office is presently reviewing these drafts and the bills will be introduced in the National Assembly in due course.

Nevertheless, no one can claim to know the full potential of the ocean. That is why we require the appropriate cutting-edge technology and research. And we have decided that this knowledge will be developed locally. We are coming with a plan to harness the talents of our own people. Indeed, we believe that we have the talent to conduct pioneering research right here in Mauritius.

The country has the potential to become a world class research centre. The time has come to realise it.

We are therefore signing a Memorandum of Understanding with the National Institute of Goa to set up a World Class Research Institute of Oceanography in Mauritius.

20 million rupees has also been earmarked to purchase a multi-purpose vessel for research, surveys and training of fishermen and skippers.

When we talk about blue economy, our fishermen immediately spring to our mind. This budget has not forgotten them. A grant of 50%, up to a cap of 4 million rupees, will be given to cooperative societies to acquire semi-industrial vessels.

In the same vein, a tax holiday of 8 years is being provided to attract industrial fishing companies to operate from Mauritius.

Madam Speaker, the Minister of Finance has also been attentive to the concerns of the planter community.
I am pleased by the series of new measures that have been announced to bring the agri-business sector into the new economic cycle.

We all know that the planter community has been at the forefront of socio-economic development in Mauritius. They deserve our consideration and the Minister of Finance has not let them down.
Madam Speaker,

I have been talking about economic development so far – digital economy, blue economy, green economy, SMEs and so on. True it is that the Budget contains numerous measures to propel the economy to new levels and that cannot be denied. But its SOCIAL DIMENSION is as praiseworthy. There is an unprecedented will power to do away with absolute poverty in our country.

The 2016-2017 Budget concretely launches the Marshall Plan Against Poverty. Indeed, the new scheme under which every adult on the Social Register will be entitled to a monthly subsistence allowance based on a threshold of 2,720 Rupees is commendable.

This threshold is 40% higher than the World Bank’s absolute poverty threshold of USD 3.10 per day per individual calculated on the basis of purchasing power parity.

This means that henceforth we shall be wiping out absolute poverty as per World Bank’s criteria.

It is historical, although we must see to it that those we are supporting do actually come out of the poverty trap.

That’s where the social contract that will be engaged with the families concerned will have all its importance. 500 million Rupees will be spent on this initiative in a two-year period and by so doing we shall be progressing steadily on our agenda to meet the objectives of the SDGs as regards poverty alleviation.

As a nation, we have to help and support the down-trodden and I appeal to everybody who has the means to complement Government’s efforts in that direction.

The Marshall Plan also focuses on decent housing and the budget adequately provides for it.

The country will also need a good quality of life. People should have the basic necessities. And housing is one of them.

Who has not dreamt of owning a house? Who does not dream of the day when his whole family will eat dinner together under one roof? The budget has come forward with measures to make this dream come true for every citizen.

One billion rupees will be spent on the construction and completion of 1,900 housing units and an additional 800 houses will be erected over three years.

The eligibility threshold has also been enlarged to a monthly income of up to 20,000 Rupees; hence, including even more people in the bracket. On top of that, a plethora of incentives has been put in place to help young couples acquire residential property.

Madam Speaker,
This Government has done a lot since coming to power to increase the purchasing power of the population. I have asked for updated figures and I can say they are really impressive ones. In 2015 and up to financial year 2016-2017, we will be giving families as much as 20 billion rupees in terms of purchasing power through pensions, subsidies, tax exemptions , salary compensations and direct support. This is unprecedented.

Madam Speaker,
I now come to departments and institutions falling under my portfolio of responsibilities.
For the financial year 2016-2017, a total amount of 8.7 billion Rupees is being allocated to the Police Department which represents an increase of around 10% as compared to last year.

The focus will be on the following five major avenues: technology; road safety; effective surveillance; securing of our Borders; and revamping of the Human Resource element.

Regarding the introduction of state-of-the-art technology, we shall be investing in Intelligent-cop concept for our officers on ground. These will include smart tablets, body worn cameras, mobile access to data points, tracking systems for vehicles, and a Crime Occurrence Tracking System.

Also, an enhanced digital radio communication system will link up other agencies such as the SAMU and the Fire Services, amongst others.

The smart tablets will be issued to patrol units such as ERS and Traffic Police and will facilitate instant access to vehicle ownership and criminal databases.

The Mauritius Police Force will also be acquiring two drone cameras estimated at 150,000 Rupees each, equipped with night vision capabilities, for intelligence gathering, surveillance of suspects and ships suspected to be carrying drugs. They will also be used for difficult drugs operations by the ADSU.

As regards road safety, to intensify surveillance on our roads, more vehicles are being acquired for the Traffic Police.

43 new motorcycles have been purchased recently and procedures have already been initiated for the purchase of 56 additional ones.

Crime prevention through effective surveillance also remains a priority for Government. In this context, we shall be implementing a Safe City project, which has been announced in the budget.
Under this project, crime prone areas will be identified and high quality CCTV cameras with latest technology will be installed at strategic locations throughout the island to ensure a constant sharp surveillance in high risk areas.

All these initiatives will obviously contribute to ensure law and order in the country.
Madam Speaker,

To further protect our country from the threats of transnational crimes, including terrorism, piracy, and human trafficking, we will be enhancing the operational capacity of our National Coast Guard through the acquisition of new surveillance assets.

A new Dornier aircraft equipped with state-of-the-art radar has been acquired last month.
In March, ten fast interceptor boats have joined the National Coast Guard’s fleet and by October this year, we shall commission a new water jet fast attack vessel.

Madam Speaker,
In addition, Government will recruit 1200 Police Officers and appoint 30 new Cadet Officers in different specialised streams such as Research and Development, Engineering and Information Technology and several others.

The future new Police Academy would be one of the major Police projects this year, estimated at a cost of 775.5 million Rupees. It will be equipped with all modern facilities required to enhance the human resource capability of the Police Force.

Madam Speaker,
Due to the increasing demand for forensic analyses and investigations, the Forensic Science Laboratory urgently needs to be relocated in purpose built new facilities.

For that purpose, State land of a size of 10,146 square metres at La Vigie, Curepipe, has been made available for the construction of a new FSL building to house its laboratories.

The project, at a cost of around 235 million rupees, is expected to be completed in 2019. For this financial year a sum of 25 million rupees has been allocated for the appointment of a consultant for the design and preliminary phase.

The FSL has extended its services to Rodrigues by the setting up of an antenna in the Police Compound at Plaine Corail.

I can also announce that consideration is being given for the FSL to equip itself with equine lab facilities in order to help the Police to effectively act in cases of alleged doping.
Madam Speaker,

With regards to border management, Government is working towards the introduction of an Advance Passenger Information system which would help the border control authorities to have passengers manifest for all flights coming to Mauritius. This would help to check the names against the control list and take appropriate and timely action, thus enhancing the internal security measures.

We are also reviewing our immigration legislation in order to prevent an abuse from foreigners who seek to marry Mauritians solely for the sake of obtaining residence permits and eventually Mauritian citizenship. In that connection, an Immigration (Amendment) Bill is being finalised and will be introduced in Parliament when ready.

Madam Speaker,
I would like to reaffirm Government’s commitment in promoting the adoption of e-business and leveraging our strengths in the exploitation of innovative technologies. In this respect, my Office has launched the e-tender for the implementation of an E-Business project for the Home Affairs Department to provide the following services online:
• Issue of Citizenship Certificate,
• Issue of Certificate under the Non-Citizenship Property Restriction Act,
• Issue of Apostille Certificate under the Hague Convention,
• Processing of Residence Permit,
• Processing of Visa,
• And processing of request to access VIP/State lounge at the Airport
• The estimated cost of this project is 75 million Rupees.

Madam Speaker,
With regard to adoption of children, Government signed in May 2016 an Agreement for technical assistance with the Permanent Bureau of the Hague Conference on Private International Law.
That aims at modernising the intercountry adoption regime in line with the Hague Convention.

In this respect, an international expert had been deputed in Mauritius to assist in the drafting of a new inter-country adoption legislation, to advise on an appropriate structure as central authority and to provide capacity building on the Convention.

The new Adoption Bill is expected to be presented in the National Assembly in March 2017.

My Office had also officially released the report of the National Coalition against Domestic Violence Committee earlier this year to give a major thrust to eradicate the problem of domestic violence in Mauritius.

The focus will be on empowerment of the enforcement agencies, better coordination among all stakeholders and adoption of a victim centered approach.

Madam Speaker, I commend the decision to increase religious subsidies by 10 percent. I must point out that there has not been any increase in religious subsidies since 2009.

Being a multi-cultural and multi-ethnic country, we have had to struggle over the years to maintain our reputation as a peaceful country, respectful of the rights of its people.

I therefore join the Minister of Finance in paying tribute to the valuable contribution of all religious organisations in ensuring unity in our diversity.

I make an appeal to these organisations to use the additional money to undertake sensitization programmes and campaigns to ward off the social ills caused by alcoholism, drug abuse, domestic violence and extremism.
Madam Speaker,

I wish to reaffirm to the House my unflinching commitment to uphold human rights values in this country. The aim of my Government is to create an appropriate human rights climate conducive for economic, social and cultural development.

In this context, the Independent Police Complaints Commission separate from the National Human Rights Commission will be set up to deal solely with complaints against police officers. To that effect, a sum of 15 million rupees has been provided in the new budget.

Madam Speaker,
Foreign Investment is crucial for the expansion of our economy.
Under the Non-Citizens (Property Restriction) Act, for financial year 2015/2016, my Office approved 32 applications from non-citizens for an approximate investment amount of 4.2 billion Rupees.

With the proposed amendments to the Non-Citizens (Property Restriction) Act, as announced in the Budget speech, and the further streamlining of procedures for issue of permits, applicants for Occupation Permits in the Investor and Self-employed categories, as well as applicants for Residence Permits in the Retired non-citizens categories will be able to apply online without need for prior registration of business or transfer of funds.

This will be a major step towards enhancing the ease of doing business in Mauritius.
Madam Speaker,

My Government is fully committed to supporting the development of Rodrigues as an integral part of the Republic of Mauritius. Accordingly, decisions have been taken to improve air and sea connectivity with Mauritius. The runway of the Sir Gaetan Duval Airport in Rodrigues will be extended to accommodate A319 aircrafts serving regional routes.

This will enable Air Mauritius to optimize aircraft use while at the same time satisfying the growing demands for seats between Mauritius and Rodrigues. In addition, the existing airport terminal will be expanded to provide increased surface for operational spaces in the terminal building.

In order to bridge the digital gap between Rodrigues and the rest of the world, the Mauritius-Rodrigues leg of the Third Submarine Cable Project will be implemented in due course.

Meanwhile, an additional 300 Megabyte per second bandwidth will be provided to enhance connectivity.
With regard to sea connectivity, a new Port Masterplan is being prepared by the MPA, for Rodrigues, which would take into account new infrastructure requirements and policies in relation to port area activities such as fish processing, port handling and marina development.

Madam Speaker, we are also supportive of the breeding community in Rodrigues as they go through very hard times with the onslaught of the foot-and-mouth epidemic on cattle. Breeders in Rodrigues will be provided with a financial breather and other assistance.

Madam Speaker, I also wish to commend the Minister of Finance for the inclusion of the Chagos Archipelago and Tromelin in the section relating to our outer islands. This simple mention sends a strong signal and reinforces even more our stand that the Chagos Archipelago and Tromelin form an integral part of our territory.

As I said last Thursday, in reply to the PNQ of the Leader of the Opposition, we are pursuing our initiatives at the level of the United Nations General Assembly to seek an advisory opinion on the Chagos Archipelago issue from the International Court of Justice. As always, I shall make a forceful appeal to the UN member states to support us in our struggle for the effective exercise by Mauritius of its sovereignty over the Chagos Archipelago at the forthcoming General Assembly.

We also support our Mauritian citizens of Chagossian origin in their struggle for resettlement in the Chagos Archipelago.

I am pleased to announce that to demonstrate our unity on the Chagos Archipelago issue, I am including a representative of the Chagossian community in the delegation that I shall lead in September to the UN General Assembly.

Madam Speaker,
The National Development Unit which was dragged into bankruptcy by the former government has been redressed. During financial year 2015-2016, 169 work orders for drains, roads and amenities projects to the tune of 213 million rupees have been issued.

For 2016-2017, the NDU is proposing to embark on 308 road projects, 281 drain projects and 148 amenities projects.
The provision of 781 million in this year’s budget will be utilised for these projects as well as for payments in respect of projects awarded in 2015-2016.

The main challenges ahead for the NDU in 2016-2017 are the revamping of the CABs to restore their original mission and purpose; and the introduction of the Land Drainage Authority Bill in the National Assembly.

Madam Speaker, I strongly commend the bold initiative of the Minister of Finance to undertake reforms with regards to our public sector institutions.

He has my full support in this daring endeavour.

My office will give the example by expediting the merger of the Information and Communication Technology Authority and the Independent Broadcasting Authority.

As regards the MBC, I am awaiting its restructuring plan and in this case also, my office will expedite matters so that the institution can perform efficiently, although, I must say, the challenges are herculean.

I wish to put on record that my Office is driving the Metro Express project as well as the Africa-Asia Air Corridor initiative. My Office will also drive the project to set up a Mauritian National Troupe.

Madam Speaker, undoubtedly the 2016-2017 Budget provides the country with the boost it requires to embrace a new era of development.

It sets the environment and gives the means for government to function effectively, our people to work in dignity, with resources for their families, decent homes and opportunities for their children. It caters to instil enthusiasm in our youth in whom I place my unreserved trust.

It calls upon the Nation to be ambitious, to turn today’s adversities into opportunities and to look at the future with optimism.

The Budget has impressively charted out the course to:
• Manage our finances in a prudent and sustainable way;
• Re-ignite confidence and mobilise the resources of all social partners;
• Enhance the ease-of-doing business environment;
• Open up the country further to attract foreign investments;
• Invest more in infrastructure to spur potential growth;
• Embrace technology and innovation to attain new development heights;
• Transform Mauritius into an International Financial Centre of Excellence and Substance;
• Give to our youth the means to attain their dreams through training, jobs and economic opportunities;
• Improve our education and health systems;
• Accelerate transformation towards an inclusive economy by taking everybody on board; and
• Strengthen social solidarity and extend our social safety net.

Madam Speaker, the aim of my Government is to achieve an economic growth that is sufficient enough to bring prosperity to one and all.

We do not want growth that is only in terms of figures. We want genuine growth based on real economic output. We want growth that brings wealth and enlarges the national cake.

And, this cake has to be shared equitably and fairly with the whole nation. That has been and remains our economic philosophy.

I am confident that we can once more live up to our motto which is “l’économie au service du peuple”.
Madam Speaker,

There have been criticisms that the targeted economic growth rate for 2015/2016 has not been attained. It is so easy to criticise and when the criticisms come from those who have themselves inflicted damage on this country through nepotism and other ill-doings, it stirs a sentiment of dismay.

I share that sentiment.

We have inherited the BAI mega scandal. And the crash of the BAI inevitably had a repercussion on our economic agenda. It prevented us from going as fast as we could have done in implementing our economic vision. Had we not acted as we did, the repercussion on our economy would have been disastrous. We are lucky to have come out of this turmoil with minimum consequences.

We assumed our responsibility as a caring and responsible Government in the face of the horrendous magnitude of the BAI scam. And we do not fear the criticisms as we know that we are on the right track.

I am confident that this year’s budgetary measures will bolster investment, exports, value creation and consumption. These together will trigger a new dynamism in economic activity and impact positively on growth.
Madam Speaker,

Our challenge today as we proceed to adopt the 2016-2017 Budget is to see to it that we implement the measures announced by the Minister of Finance.

To that effect, I am happy that implementation and monitoring high level committees have been set up with deliverables and time frames.

I appeal to all my Ministers and civil servants to live up to the challenge and to make their country their most pressing priority.

Let us as one Nation, private sector, civil society, Government, public sector, local community, everybody, roll up our sleeves and work hard together in partnership to change and transform our economy with a new mindset, new vision, new strategic thinking and new energy.

Let us start a new journey together to ascend new heights and cruise confidently towards joining the league of High Income Nations.

We made a giant leap with the First Economic Miracle; let’s do it – again. As outgoing President Barack Obama said it so well “Yes, we can”.
Madam Speaker,

When I started my speech, I said that this budget will be a game-changer and indeed, it will be.

This budget paves the way for a New Mauritius, for a Modern Mauritius, an Inclusive Mauritius.

Let’s get down to work. Let make it happen the way we want.

I end, Madam Speaker, on a quote from Socrates that I find very appropriate for the occasion.

I quote:
“The secret of change
is to focus all of your energy,
not on fighting the old,
but on building the new.”
Thank you Madam Speaker.

Posted by on Aug 16 2016. Filed under Actualités, En Direct, Featured, Politique. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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