Blog: Forging Ahead
This week, Prime Minister Navin Ramgoolam has laid the foundation stone of the third recreation centre for the elderly at Pointe aux Piments. The other two are found at Pointe aux Sables and Belle Mare and are operational.
Swami Krishnanand used to say that a country's level of development can be gauged by the services it provides to and the care it takes for the old, the poor and sick persons. In Mauritius, we should feel proud of what we do in this field. Year after year, we have consolidated our welfare state by providing universal non contributory pension of slightly more than a hundred dollars per head to everyone at sixty, free medical care, free transport and organized leisure of activities. They also benefit from a grant of Rs. 500,000 for specialized medical treatment abroad. The value of these services can be felt against the background of the euro zone crisis and their effects on our economy. All these services are being maintained. This is no mean achievement. Since 1968, this has been made possible on account of the growth we have enjoyed continuously. Thousands of jobs have been created, education has been provided free from primary to tertiary levels. Thus equipping our population with skills and capabilities to ensure quality in all spheres of development.
Had Mauritians been prepared to do all kinds of jobs, there would have been no unemployment in Mauritius. There are above thirty-five thousands foreign workers on our soil. There is still shortage of labor in agriculture, construction industry, tourism and ICT.
This year our growth is expected to be around 4%. At the G8 summit, President Obama and newly elected French President Francois Hollande have both said that they want growth and creation of jobs as a policy against austerity to tackle the financial and euro zone crisis. We are in good company.
Yesterday the Prime Minister has also inaugurated a completely renovated post office at Triolet. Very few people realize that Mauritius has one of the oldest and most efficient post office systems in the world. We are famous for the blue penny stamp. Today the post office is not only delivering letters to our door steps but providing all sorts of facilities particularly for the payment of bills and pensions. Parents can place the order for books for their children and effect payment on receipt of those books at delivery by the post office.
I also happened to travel from Quartier Militaire to Curepipe. The road is being enlarged by two lanes. I was happy to see that a bicycle lane is being added on some parts. I was not surprised. Throughout the country a network of road and hundreds of bridges are being built. On completion, billions of rupees in petrol and time will be saved. A wise investment excellently implemented by Anil Baichoo.
When it was announced that the Mare aux Vacoas reservoir was above 90% full, I could not stop myself from going there to see de visu. Oh! What a joy and relief. I had given up on Mare aux Vacoas when it had reached 26% of its capacity during the drought. The CWA seems to have learned its lesson. It is preserving the water available both underground and above ground for drought period.
It is also taking steps to reduce the waste, 40%, in our distribution system. Singapore loss is only 5%. We must also review our irrigation system. Both overhead and surface irrigation uses excess water. Drip irrigation as an alternative can save water and give better crops. The hotel industry has already installed small plants for desalination of sea water as a precaution for interruption of supply of fresh water.
Is it not time for us to adopt a positive attitude to the development of our country and extend a helping hand? Should we not be happy and contented that we are forging ahead in spite of all the difficulties when even the dissolution of the euro zone is being discussed and contemplated?
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Former Director General, MBC.