SPEECH BY G.P. LESJONGARD,
Ex Minister of Housing and Lands
Hon. P.R. Bérenger, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance,
His Lordship the Mayor of Port-Louis,
Mayors and Chairman of District Councils,
Mr. John Smith, our Consultant for the National Development Strategy,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am pleased to welcome all of you, this afternoon, for this launching ceremony of the National Development Strategy (NDS).
I must, at the very outset, thank Mr John Smith, our consultant, for his valuable contribution in the formulation of the NDS.
This is a time of radical change in the planning system. A new National Development Strategy has just been completed.
One of my first priorities when I took over the portfolio of Housing and Land Use Planning was to obtain government approval for the NDS plan. This plan sets the framework for land use development for the country for the next 20 years.
My next target now, is to bring about its implementation and an overhaul of the planning system so that it serves business and the community at large in a more efficient and productive manner.
An effective planning system is essential to deliver our objectives for living communities; for urban and rural regeneration; for improving the country's infrastructure; and for achieving truly sustainable development. In fact, without an effective planning system we risk constraining the economy, at a cost to everyone in Mauritius.
The National Development Strategy sets out the recommendations for transforming the planning system so that it is faster, fairer and more predictable and will contribute to the delivery of the Government objectives.
The planning system should:
Deliver in a sustainable way, key Government objectives such as housing, economic
development, transport infrastructure, urban and rural regeneration whilst protecting
Create and sustain mixed and inclusive communities.
be transparent so that the right decisions are taken more quickly, with a set of rules
that everyone can understand.
We are making wide ranging, comprehensive changes to the planning system. In doing so, we will consolidate on the fundamentals of the planning system which have been built up over many years: the philosophy of the 'plan led' system applying the principles of good regulation-consistency, proportionality, targeting transparency and accountability; and promoting and facilitating effective public consultations.
We agree that the success of the package of reforms in delivering a step change in the operation of the planning system is dependent on proper resourcing. Under EIP2 several projects have already been approved, which will pave the way for institutional strengthening, planning practice and legal reforms.
The key themes of our reforms are:
setting out a clear understanding of what we are planning for;
making the system work better at national level by improving national planning policy;
speeding up the overall process for dealing with major development projects; and
improving the Government's own performance in processing and applications;
helping the system for plan making to work better at regional and local level;
encouraging high quality development; and improving the processes for dealing with
planning applications and planning appeals;
We are embarking on a comprehensive programme of change. We will be in due course making a series of further announcements about specific elements of the package. We will be developing a major programme of action, which is prioritised and scheduled.
We will be seeking the earliest possible opportunity to legislate where it is required. We will also bring forward new regulations and will develop a programme for revising and updating national policy guidance.
We want planning to rediscover its purpose, to be a strategic, proactive force for economic prosperity, social cohesion and environmental protection.
We want to concentrate national planning policy on the important policy issues that need to be resolved at national level and leave to regional or local level, those matters that can better be expressed at those levels.
We will be taking a range of measures to improve the way in which central Government performs its own role in the planning system.
Ladies and Gentleman: in a few minutes, Mr John Smith will detail for you the key recommendations of the National Development Strategy and the Action Programmes we intend to implement in the months to come.
We have set ourselves big targets, which we aim to attain by the end of this year.
I am confident that I can rely on your support to reach the objectives set. I trust all of you , stakeholders here in land development, will join me in helping to make these changes a reality.
I am sure that, when we look back in ten years time, we will realise that we made the right decisions.
Now, I would like to invite the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, to address you to lead the initiative and launch the National Development Strategy.