USP Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Rajesh Chandra has commended the Fijian Government for the 2016-2017 National Budget.
The University of the South Pacific (USP) has commended the Fijian Government and the Minister for Finance Honourable Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum for a good and strong 2016- 2017 National Budget following its announcement on 22 June 2016.
The overall budget is significantly channelled towards the massive national rehabilitation and re-construction efforts put in place by Government post Tropical Cyclone Winston, which has a strong social component with a lot of support for vulnerable communities. The budget, however, still pursues the longer term development strategy of the Government, takes new initiatives, and makes innovative use of the tax system to drive required results and changes.
USP Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Rajesh Chandra said it was pleasing to note the education budget, particularly the allocations for the many educational initiatives to guarantee every Fijian the right to education including access to proper school infrastructure and learning facilities necessary to foster quality education at all levels.
“I would like to commend Government for the depth of thinking for the education allocation—the emphasis on quality, recognition and action on early childhood education, the focus on disability and education, and the use of tax incentives to drive some of the educational and other policy agendas,” Professor Chandra said.
He added that it is satisfying to note that specific allocations for the education sector totaled $448.5million, an increase of about two per cent in real terms, from the previous budget.
“Education has received an increase and I am delighted to see that the Government has paid attention to getting university students placed in the workplace for attachments and part-time work. There are tax incentives for this which shows good understanding of the importance of workplace experience for our students. Bringing the world of learning and work closer together is of increasing international importance and the Fijian Government is leading the way in some of these cutting-edge thinking,” Professor Chandra said.
To encourage employment creation and availability of employment opportunities for students, Government has increased the Employment Taxation Scheme deduction rate from 150-200 per cent and also widened the scope to include apprenticeship in related areas of study and employment during holidays.
USP has been allocated a total of $30.2million and Professor Chandra said the University is grateful to receive the amount it had requested.
Professor Chandra said the allocation of $0.2million under the scholarship scheme for children with special needs is yet another timely initiative.
USP has a Disability policy, and a Disability Resource Centre to promote inclusive education.
The University is pleased that the Tertiary Education Loan Scheme (TELS) will continue with a budget of $42.5m while the National Toppers Scheme has received $10m and the existing scholarship scheme has an allocation of $4.3m.
These, with other initiatives, in particular emphasis on TC Winston rehabilitation are commendable.
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