Professor Rajesh Chandra, USP Vice-Chancellor and President.
The University of the South Pacific (USP) believes that the 2018-19 national budget continues the focus of the Government on creating a modern, forward-looking and knowledge-oriented society and economy in Fiji that will ensure its competitiveness internationally and lead to the sustainable development of the country.
Professor Rajesh Chandra, USP Vice Chancellor and President welcomed the National Budget (2018-19) and its strong commitment to education with an allocation of $1billion aimed to create a knowledge economy and society in Fiji.
“Education in line with modern pedagogy, leveraging the enormous possibilities of digitalization, and ensuring that the needs of the labour market are met forms the foundation of modern development and the Fiji First Government has pursued this education agenda very boldly, with persistence and sustainably. USP is grateful for the approval of the contribution to it in line with the UGC approved formula”, Professor Chandra said.
USP welcomes the dramatic increase in funding in the Tertiary Education Loan Scheme (TELS) budget by 30 per cent which means an additional 4,233 more students will be added to the TELS scheme bringing the total to 25, 282. There is an increase in Toppers Scholarship from 630 to 970, with a provision for 20 awards for students with special needs.
Professor Chandra further added, “Since research and development are vital for a knowledge-based economy and society, we are delighted that this budget has provided incentives for private sector participation in research and development. Any expenditure incurred by the private sector on research in ICT and renewable energy will be allowed a deduction of 250%. This gives universities an important opportunity to work more closely with industry to build research facilities and to promote innovation that should benefit both industry and Fiji as a whole”.
He added that while encouraging growth, it is useful to note that the Government has invested heavily in its social inclusion programmes so that prosperity can be shared, the disadvantaged can be provided opportunities to improve their lives, and so that with more cohesion, our future can be peaceful and sustainable.
“Inequality, a sense of not having a stake in the future, and the lack of a sense of pride in a shared future are the worst enemies of development and we are pleased to see such strong emphasis on social and economic inclusion in the budget,” said Professor Chandra.
Overall, the 2018/2019 Budget shows a very consistent government policy, encourages high levels of financial discipline and prudence and provides greater investor confidence. The Fiji First Government is clearly focused on creating a very smart and educated Fiji.
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