Budget 2016-2017 Highlights: Building infrastructure that fits into the future
The 2016-2017 budget makes provision for the introduction of a new mass transit system with its network of Urban Terminals, to be known as the Metro Express, which will be the main thrust of the strategy geared towards building the infrastructure that fits the future.
As part of Government’s plan for urban and rural regeneration, the Metro Express will totally redesign towns, create new growth poles around the terminals, drastically reduce the commuting time for citizens, raise productivity, eliminate the inconvenience of traffic congestion, save on petroleum import bills and significantly cut down pollution. The construction of the Victoria Terminal will kick-start the project which will be based under the Build–operate–transfer (BOT) model. A space will be reserved to accommodate 1000 hawkers.
“What Mauritius needs is an affordable new mass transit system along with a network of modern integrated urban terminals comprising parking facilities, food courts, commercial spaces, dedicated hawker areas and green spaces, ” stressed Mr Jugnauth in his budget speech.
The development of a new National Transport Network under the Road Decongestion Programme was also highlighted in the speech. The Phoenix-Jumbo-Dowlut roundabouts and the A1M1 Bridge linking Coromandel to Sorèze will be constructed, with the assistance of the Korean Expressway Corporation.
In line with the strategy to engineer the infrastructure that fits the future, the Finance Minister underscored the necessity for investments from both the public and private sectors that would strengthen growth and raise productivity. Government will significantly raise its capital expenditure to Rs 19 billion in the 2016-2017 Budget. 169. Public sector investment totalling some Rs 34.5 billion in 2016/17 will jump to Rs 97.6 billion over the next three years,” he said.
The new era of development, as outlined by Mr Jugnauth, calls for a holistic and coherent urban planning and development strategy. On that account, Port Louis will undergo a major transformation with the implementation of several development projects to rejuvenate its skyline and will include world class arts, recreation and culture zones for the residents of Port-Louis and for other Mauritians as well as tourists. Concerning the smart cities the construction of three such projects will start this year. The Heritage City that will create a new urban space for present and future generations to accommodate the new Parliament, offices and other infrastructure.
Boosting air and sea connectivity
According to Mr Jugnauth, the next strategy in infrastructure development is focused on sea and air connectivity. Around Rs 770 million will be invested in a new Integrated Government Clearance Centre in the Cargo Village and a modern Control Tower at the airport, and Rs 425 million will be invested by the CEB in a sub-station to cater for Cargo and Freeport power requirements. Government is working with the Chinese authorities on the setting up of a Regional Aviation Training Academy that will serve the African and Indian Ocean Rim region.
A sum of Rs 6 billion will be invested over the next five years to enhance port infrastructure. The Cargo Handling Corporation Ltd will acquire two additional Ship-to-Shore cranes and other equipment to service container vessels more efficiently.
The budget provides for strategic investments to boost the development of the petroleum hub which holds the potential of becoming a major economic pillar. To that endeavour, some 35 hectares of reclaimed land are being earmarked for petroleum storage, logistics and fishing activities. A new petroleum port will be developed at Albion.