1. Cabinet has taken note that the Fast Track Committee on Investment will meet under the chair of the Prime Minister with Ministers concerned on Thursday 8 September 2005.
2. Cabinet has taken note of the overview of the acute and chronic traffic congestion in the Port Louis/Plaines Wilhems conurbation during the morning and evening peak hours and that a Committee chaired by the Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Public Infrastructure, Land Transport & Shipping is reviewing the short, medium and long term measures to address the problem of congestion. Cabinet has agreed to the following short term measures being implemented:
(i) the use of the grade separated junction (Auto Pont) at Pailles for vehicles driving along the third lane to Port Louis;
(ii) the synchronisation of traffic lights at the entrance of Port Louis; and
(iii) the operation of a Bus Terminal at Coromandel.
3. Cabinet has taken note that the World Hindi Secretariat Act will be proclaimed shortly and that Mr A. Unnuth and Mr S. Tengur will form part of the Governing Council of the Secretariat.
4. Cabinet has taken note that the Donors' Round Table to assist in the national reconciliation process and the rebuilding of Comoros will be held in Mauritius on 8 December 2005 and will be co-chaired by President Mbeki of South Africa and Dr the Hon N. Ramgoolam, Prime Minister.
5. Cabinet has agreed to the proposals of the Ministerial Committee on Bottlenecks and Red Tape chaired by the Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Tourism, Leisure & External Communications to streamline procedures and processes with regard to the issue of permits and clearances by Government organizations with a view to cutting down unnecessary and cumbersome procedures, and to the setting up of appropriate mechanisms in Ministries/Departments to enable applications for licences/permits being expedited within a maximum period of one month. In the same vein, the Ministry of Industry, Small & Medium Enterprises, Commerce & Cooperatives is revisiting existing procedures for the issue of permits with a view to avoiding unnecessary hurdles by applicants. Prospective bakers should now apply for a licence to the appropriate local authority instead of the Ministry of Industry, Small & Medium Enterprises, Commerce & Cooperatives.
6. Cabinet has taken note of the status of the implementation of a wind farm project that would contribute to the reduction of our dependence on the production of energy by the use of petroleum products. Cabinet has invited the Minister of Public Utilities to mount campaigns with a view to sensitising the public to save energy given the alarming increase in the price of petroleum products.
7. Cabinet has taken note of arrangements made by the STC (Mauritius) for the importation of powdered milk from India. A first consignment of 75 tons of full cream milk is expected to reach Mauritius by the end of September 2005. The STC proposes to import powdered milk from Australia, Brazil and Argentina.
8. Cabinet has taken note that talks will shortly be held with the French authorities on the designation of a second French airline on the route Paris/Mauritius.
9. Cabinet has taken note that, with the assistance of the WHO, a Poison Information Centre will be set up at Victoria Hospital before the end of the year, to inter-alia :
(i) prepare a database on all chemicals, pesticides, toxic plants and insects and other toxins present in Mauritius;
(ii) assist health professionals in the diagnosis, prognosis and treatment of such cases;
(iii) evaluate risks of poisoning existing in the community and advise on the reduction or elimination of such risks through preventive or regulatory measures; and
(iv) prepare contingency plans to deal with any major accident involving chemicals and other toxic products.
The Dangerous Chemicals Control Board, operating under the aegis of the Ministry of Health and Quality of Life, has already taken action to reduce risks of poisoning and has prohibited the use of highly toxic chemicals and pesticides.
10. Cabinet has taken note that Professor D.S. Saksena, Head Cardiovascular Surgery, Bombay Hospital Institute of Medical Science accompanied by a team of medical practitioners is currently visiting Mauritius. Professor Saksena will attend to some 25 Mauritian patients who will undergo by-pass and valve replacement surgeries.
11. Cabinet has agreed to the National Computer Board starting an IT Empowerment Programme as from 26 September 2005 with a view to imparting to unemployed HSC holders an initial level of knowledge about IT and a basic level of competence in using personal computers and elementary computer applications and enhancing the employability of the unemployed, and initiating them to the global information society.
12. Cabinet has agreed to the introduction of the following Bills into the National Assembly:
(a) the Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill which aims at amending the Prevention of Corruption Act 2002 in order to provide for -
(i) the abolition of the Appointments Committee and the setting up of a Board to be chaired by a Director General for the purpose of managing and administering the Independent Commission Against Corruption;
(ii) the Director General to be appointed by the Prime Minister after consultation with the Leader of the Opposition;
(iii) the Parliamentary Committee to initiate and take disciplinary action against the Director General in cases of negligence, irregularity or misconduct; and
(iv) the abolition of the three Advisory Committees, i.e., the Operations Review Committee, the Corruption Advisory Committee and the Community Relations and Corruption Prevention Advisory Committee and thereby to streamline and simplify the decision-making process of the Commission for it to be more effective, economic and efficient;
(b) the Law Reform Commission Bill which aims at establishing a Law Reform Commission as a central advisory body for the review, reform and development of the Law of Mauritius; and
(c) the Dental Council (Amendment) Bill which aims at amending the Dental Council Act 1999 with a view to making provision for dental students to perform dental surgery, in the course of their training, under the supervision of a Dental Surgeon and with the authorization of the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health and Quality of Life.
13. Cabinet has taken note of the state of play on the DOHA Development Agenda following the Trade Negotiations Committee and the General Council meetings held from 27 to 29 July 2005 at the WTO. The negotiations at the WTO focused on Agriculture, Non-Agricultural Market Access, Services Sector, Trade Facilitation and Rules. Mauritius as Coordinator of the ACP for the next six months in Geneva will be more aggressively engaged in negotiations at all levels with a view to ensuring that the vital trade interests, in particular the maintenance of a commercially meaningful level of preferences is kept on the Agenda and administrative delays in the clearance of goods are eliminated.
14. Cabinet has taken note of a status report on the Textile and Clothing Sector which highlights the following -
(i) both domestic and external factors have impacted adversely on the operation of the sector. On the internal front, the sector has had to grapple with a number of inherent weaknesses, such as rising cost of production, lack of workers, low productivity, heavy reliance on T-shirts, pullovers, shirts and trousers and financial mismanagement whereas on the external front, fierce competition from low-cost and high volume producing countries, the dismantling of the MultiFibre Agreement and market conditions;
(ii) the Textile and Clothing (TC) Sector, which comprises 261 enterprises, accounts for 73% of total direct EPZ exports, 84% of EPZ employment and 50.6% of domestic exports for the first quarter of 2005;
(iii) the TC Sector has been going through a difficult period and has recorded negative growth rates of 6% in 2002 and 2003 and 6.8% in 2004. It is expected to register a negative growth rate of 8% this year;
(iv) total employment, including expatriates, has declined from 80,960 in December 1999 to 56,062 at end of March 2005; and
(v) total direct textile & clothing exports decreased from Rs 24.8 billion in 1999 to reach Rs 24.7 billion in 2004, representing an all time low percentage of 76.5% of total exports.
A number of measures which could be adopted to sustain the development of the sector has been recommended, viz., improving access to finance, vertical integration, restructuring of enterprises, technology and quality upgrading and niche marketing.
15. Cabinet has taken note that as part of the media campaign to sensitise the EU on the negative impact of the proposed reform of the EU Sugar Regime on Sugar Protocol countries, Mauritius has been chosen for a Press trip as it is the largest sugar supplier under the Sugar Protocol and where the multifunctional role of the sugar cane industry is most visible. The aim of the campaign is to use public opinion and other stakeholders to influence policy makers to take on board the plight of the ACP Sugar Protocol Countries when deciding on the level of cuts in price and the period of implementation, the two important planks of the reform proposals.
16. Cabinet has agreed to the Road Map for the Mauritius Sugar Cane Industry for the 21st Century which revolves around the following main objectives -
(i) promotion of fast track modernization and diversification of the sugar sector to convert the sugar industry into an efficient cane industry geared towards the production of sugar, high value-added sugar, by-products and energy;
(ii) ensuring the survival of small planters and investing in derocking and irrigation schemes for small planters over the next 5 years;
(iii) promoting optimal use of bagasse, molasses and an increased production of special sugars; and
(iv) ensure broader participation of small planters in sugar milling as well as in energy production and make it easier for small planters to purchase and sell agricultural lands.
17. With a view to meeting the increasing demand for a housing unit, especially from the low income group, Cabinet has agreed to funding support from foreign agencies being sought for the construction of 1,000 housing units and the provision of utilities and infrastructure for sites and services.
18. Cabinet has taken note that, in line with the Government Programme, an Office of Fair Trading and a Competition Commission would shortly be set up. The Office of Fair Trading will inter-alia investigate into any allegation or suspicion of restrictive business practices or any matter relating to such allegation or suspicion and take such measures as may be necessary to prevent or terminate any restrictive business practices, including the issue of directives and proposals for remedial action.
19. With a view to ensuring that canteen facilities are put to good use and to providing students with an improved and conducive learning environment, Cabinet has agreed to Heads of School and PTAs being empowered to award and review contracts for the operation and management of school canteens, subject to certain conditions, namely -
(i) strict adherence of canteenkeepers to guidance issued by the Ministry of Health and Quality of Life;
(ii) stringent contractual agreement between PTAs and canteenkeepers with overridding provision for cancellation of contracts in case of breach of conditions; and
(iii) adequate control by Heads of School and regular checks and supervision by the Health Inspectorate.
Cabinet has also agreed that, in the long run, appropriate infrastructure would be put up in schools where canteen facilities do not exist and corrugated iron-sheet canteens would gradually be replaced by concrete and properly fitted buildings.
20. Cabinet has taken note that regulations will be made under the Dental Council Act to provide for the inclusion of the following institutions in the list of recognized medical institutions -
(i) University of Nairobi, Kenya;
(ii) Iuliu Hatieganu University of Medicine and Pharmacy, Cluj-Napoca, Romania;
(iii) University of the Western Cape, South Africa; and
(iv) Grodno State Medical University, Bielorussia SSR.
21. Cabinet has taken note that the'Monument aux Esclaves'; and Gunpowder Magazine at Pointe Canon will be designated as national heritage. The Monument at Pointe Canon was put up in 1985 on the occasion of the 150th Anniversary of the Abolition of Slavery as a reminder of the values of courage and determination of the slaves, whilst the Gunpowder Magazine which was built by slave labour, is viewed as a tangible vestige of slavery and of national heritage value.
22. Cabinet has taken note that Mauritius will stand as candidate for membership on the World Heritage Committee for a period of four years. The functions of the Committee are inter-alia to identify properties of outstanding universal value which are to be protected under the World Heritage Convention and to monitor the state of conservation of the properties.
23. Cabinet has taken note of developments on the reform of the pensions system which aims at containing the fiscal cost of basic pensions, ensuring adequate returns to assets of the contributory retirement schemes and establishing a strong regulatory and supervisory framework for private pensions schemes.
24. Cabinet has taken note of the reconstitution of -
(a) the Board of the MBC with Mr Fareed Jangeerkhan as Chairperson. Mr Bijay Madhoo will be appointed Director-General; and
(b) the Public Officers Welfare Council with Mr R. Mudhoo, Senior Chief Executive at the Ministry of Civil Service & Administrative Reforms, as Chairperson.