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Budget 2013 Highlights: A major overhaul of Government IT services

Date: November 14, 2012
Domain:ICT; Economy & Finance
Persona: Citizen; Government
 

GIS - Nov 14, 2012: A major overhaul of Government IT services entails the redistribution of duties and responsibilities. Hence, the Central Informatics Bureau, the Central Information Systems Division and the IT Security Unit will be merged to create a more holistic unit focused on delivering quality IT solutions.
 
For the first time, a professional will be appointed in each ministry as ‘Head of IT’ to strengthen the application of IT solutions in Government. Furthermore, all Heads of Ministries, Government Agencies and Departments will be expected to be IT proficient.
 
To achieve the objective of an Online Government that provides services to the people through internet and mobile technology, the 2013 Budget provides for the implementation of the e-payment gateway. Thus, the first mobile payment service will begin at the end of the year at the MRA and will be followed by the Ministry of Housing and Lands and the National Transport Authority by March 2013 as well as other departments throughout 2013. Moreover, by March 2013, eight departments will be accepting online payment by credit card. Digital signatures will also be introduced to enable people to carry out online transactions safely.
 
In a bid to encourage the establishment of a technology enabled Government that uses less and less paper, the Budget announced a reduction of 25% for each Ministry’s annual stationery Budget, thereby saving Rs 43 million annually. By March 2013, every Member of Parliament will have a computing device to enable all written communication, including all order papers, parliamentary questions, bills and other documents to be forwarded to them by electronic mail, saving substantial amounts of paper and transportation costs.
 
The 2013 Budget also unveils measures to bring in a new digital era namely by accelerating the rollout of 4G across the country by next year. It will include new regulations on spectrum management, in order to make more bandwidth available to operators, encourage greater sharing of phone masts and transform Mauritius into a fully digital country. In addition, in December 2013, by switching off the analogue television broadcast signal, Mauritius will reap a digital dividend from releasing spectrum which will be available for new applications and services. As for Rodrigues, tenders will be launched to immediately increase the connectivity by satellite from 37 to 155 megabytes per second.
 
To uphold the ICT/BPO sector which is one of the most dynamic industries, the 2012 Budget proposes, among others, to bring down the price of internet by 15%, to strengthen privacy laws so as to give a spur to Cloud Computing which is expected to grow to a 130 billion dollar sector by 2015 and position Mauritius as a Data Island, and to set up incubators for young Application Developers in partnership with operators. The first one will be set up in collaboration with Mauritius Telecom in Ebène. Moreover, Government intends to foster the development of a hi-tech manufacturing cluster with dedicated hi-tech industrial parks. These will provide clean room ‘plug and play’ facilities and a pleasant working environment for staff.
 
To open the tremendous opportunities for digital learning, give access to a world of data stored online and enable students to do research and to develop their skills on an equal footing with any child in Europe, America or Asia, the 2013 Budget provides for the distribution next year of one tablet computer to each student of Form IV. These tablets will be free of charge except for a nominal payment of only 500 Rupees to cover insurance against loss or damage. Government is also extending high-speed fibre optic cables to every secondary school.
 
Finally, to encourage and attract young ICT talents, the 2013 Budget is coming forward with the ‘Emerging Leaders Award’. The Award will be opened internationally and offer seed capital of one hundred thousand US dollars to projects of outstanding value located in Mauritius. It will be supported by a panel of distinguished world personalities and will be chaired by the leading business guru, Robin Sharma. 

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