The future of the country rests on its youth and Government has come up with a historical measure which is free access to tertiary education in all public institutions. This governmental measure will be implemented as from this year and will be applicable for those opting for certificate, diploma and degree courses, both on full time and part time basis.
The Prime Minister, Minister of Home Affairs, External Communications and National Development Unit and Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Mr Pravind Kumar Jugnauth made this announcement during his New Year message to the Nation on 01 January 2019.
In his address, Prime Minister Jugnauth highlighted the major achievements and priority projects for year 2018 while also emphasising on Government's continued commitment with regard to promoting an equitable, safe and harmonious society.
After 50 years of Independence, he underlined, Mauritius has come a long way and various measures have been put in place last year in line to enhancing the daily lives of citizens and reducing the gap between rich and poor. These measures comprise the introduction of the National Minimum Wage to provide decent salary to workers; the Negative Income Tax; and the decrease in the income tax rate from 15% to 10% for those earning between Rs 305,000 and Rs 650,000 annually. More than 100,000 families have benefitted from these measures which have uplifted their status at work, he added.
Some of the measures for 2019 include the provision of a salary compensation of Rs 400 to some 463,000 employees and the increase in pension from Rs 5,810 to Rs 6,210.
With regard to unemployment rate, the Prime Minister pointed out that it stood at 6.9% in 2018 which is one of the lowest since the past fifteen years. On this score, he highlighted that the economic growth rate was at 3.8% for year 2018 while adding that all sectors of the economy comprising entrepreneurial and business fields have regained their momentum.
Speaking on major developmental and infrastructural projects, Prime Minister Jugnauth stated that the Metro Express project marks a major stride in the history of Mauritius and fits in the vision of Government to modernise the country. To this end, he underscored that the first light rail system, starting from Rose Hill to Port Louis will be operational this year. "My vision is that the Metro Express lines will be extended in the four corners of the country in the future", added the Prime Minister.
He also spoke of Government's investment in the construction works of drains and roads with a view to improving the infrastructure across the country. As regards the provision of decent dwellings for low income families, he stressed that some 12,000 social housing units will be constructed by end of 2019.
Referring to upholding law and order in the country, the Prime Minister highlighted that the Safe City project, being implemented by the Police Force will ensure the security of every citizen with the installation of more than 4,000 surveillance cameras in strategic sites. He also reiterated his relentless determination to combat drug scourge and emphasised on the huge number of drug seizures being effected so as to dismantle these networks.
On this score, Prime Minister Jugnauth announced that he will chair the National Drugs and HIV Council which has as objectives to foster a multi-sectoral approach with a view to providing a stronger response to Drugs and HIV; and to come up with concrete measures to minimise the personal, social and economic impact of these social plagues.
He also listed out several projects being implemented for Rodrigues, comprising the extension of the airport and the construction of a new terminal. He also recalled the launch of the fibre optic installation, Mauritius Rodrigues Submarine Cable last November, which will connect Mauritius with Rodrigues. The construction of a runway and a jetty in Agalega was also highlighted by the Prime Minister.