Government is deeply committed to eradicating poverty as stated in its Vision 2030 and Government Programme 2015-2019. A series of empowerment programmes and projects have thus been initiated to put vulnerable families at the centre of development and facilitate their inclusion in mainstream society.

This was the gist of the message of the Minister of Social Integration and Economic Empowerment, Mr Alain Wong, yesterday, in the context of the commemoration of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty 2018. This year’s theme is Coming together with those furthest behind to build an inclusive world of universal respect for human rights and dignity.

The enactment of the Social Integration and Empowerment Act in December 2016 is one of the landmark measures to alleviate poverty in Mauritius, the Minister highlighted. The Act, he underlined, makes provision for the setting up of Empowerment Schemes to combat absolute poverty and provide financial support to families, who are eligible under the Social Register of Mauritius (SRM) and have signed the social contract. Since December 2016 to-date, an amount of around Rs 652 million has been disbursed by Government for the benefit of around 11 000 families, including those in Rodrigues, he indicated.

Government, the Minister emphasised, is providing empowerment support with the collaboration of key service-providers in several areas namely education, training, employment, health, family welfare, sports and leisure, and life skills enhancement. The introduction of a Minimum Wage and the Negative Income Tax, he pointed out, are examples of breakthrough measures announced in 2017-2018 Budget to address the issue of absolute poverty and promote economic empowerment

The Minister expressed Government’s firm belief that a decent shelter is a sine qua non condition for a family to win the battle against poverty. Government is subsidising 75% of the cost of a housing unit under the Housing Scheme for SRM beneficiaries, he said. The beneficiaries will therefore have to pay only the remaining 25% over a period ending at retirement age.

As regards the setting up of Community Working Groups, the Minister stated that these Groups are present in all districts of Mauritius and in Rodrigues. The aim is to encourage private and public partners, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and the civil society to collaborate through a holistic manner for the advancement of the community and to support beneficiaries at grassroots level for their empowerment.

With regard to the National Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Foundation, Minister Wong indicated that it was set up to allocate CSR funds to NGOs to enable them undertake programmes and projects for the benefit of targeted vulnerable groups in ten priority areas mostly related to poverty alleviation. In 2017, the National CSR Foundation had approved 231 projects from 173 NGOs for a total amount of Rs 203 million.

It is important to come forward with improved measures and new initiatives to address poverty challenges while at the same time make a meaningful difference in the lives of the poor, the Minister highlighted. The Mauritian population should join hands in the fight against poverty for the prosperity and success of the nation, he added.

Source: Government of Mauritius