1. In line with the declared policy of Government to alleviate the plight of the vulnerable and deprived groups of the population, particularly the old age pensioners, Cabinet has agreed to the following measures being implemented viz.,
(i) waiving of the 5% surcharge on electricity and water bills in respect of old age pensioners who would be given a further 14 days delay, in addition to the prevailing delay of 21 days, to pay their dues;
(ii) after a disconnection, customers falling in the lower income group as determined by the tariff category applicable to them and whose consumption do not exceed 50kwh monthly, would be required to pay only 25% of the amount due and the reconnection fee in cases where electricity supply had been disconnected;
(iii) the Central Water Authority to consider approving, on a case to case basis, that households, facing temporary financial hardship and those who are considered as forming part of the vulnerable groups of society, being allowed to settle their water charges and connection charges by instalments spread over a reasonable period of time;
(iv) the services at the CWA to be decentralised to avoid travelling time and costs to customers; payment of water bills being extended to all Post Offices, facilities for payment of water bills by direct debit at bank level and review of procedures for new CWA customers; and
(v) introduction of Service Delivery Standards in the CEB and CWA which aims at sensitizing the customers of the treatment which they can expect from them and imposing on the service providers well defined time frames within which applications or requests should be attended to.
2. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the mission of the Prime Minister to New York where he attended the 60th Session of United Nations General Assembly. He delivered three speeches at the Rostrum of the United Nations - as Chair of AOSIS, at the Plenary Session of the World Summit and at the UN General Assembly. He had bilateral talks inter alia with the Prime Minister of India, the President of Pakistan, the President of Comoros, the Prime Minister of Iceland and the Emir of Qatar. He signed, on behalf of Mauritius, the United Nations International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism. The Prime Minister also met President Bush, the Secretary General Mr Kofi Annan and the new President of the United Nations General Assembly, Mr Eliasson. He also attended the Clinton Global Initiative where he proposed that an International Conference on Poverty and Development be held in Mauritius.
3. In line with Government's Programme, Cabinet has agreed to free Broadband Internet access being provided in Secondary Schools and public libraries with a view to –
(i) giving students the opportunity to access a wealth of resources on the Internet;
(ii) encouraging the use of ICT as a supporting and enabling tool for education; and
(iii) promoting virtual learning and collaboration in the education sector.
The project would involve the provision of internet access to about 177 secondary schools, including six in Rodrigues, and to six public libraries. 20 schools would be provided with free internet access by the end of September 2005 and the facility would be extended to other schools as and when connections are ready.
4. Cabinet has taken note of the setting up of a Mauritian Internet Exchange Point (IXP) to interconnect Internet Service Providers with a view to enabling the exchange of domestic Internet traffic locally. It is expected that the IXP will bring inter alia the following benefits –
(a) a cost reduction for local traffic;
(b) enhancing the access of Internet across the country to enable users to avail themselves of e-Government Services; and
(c) further developing and promoting the use of Internet for business, residential and e-governance applications.
5. Cabinet took note of the recent tragic cases of domestic violence and agreed to the Protection from Domestic Violence Act being consolidated and reinforced with a view to better protecting victims of domestic violence.
6. Cabinet has taken note that the Ministry of Education & Human Resources would organize a Skills Development Programme with a view to providing registered unemployed persons with a 6-month supervised work attachment in specific high demand trades and jobs to enable them to develop work skills and knowledge so as to enhance their job prospects. A Steering Committee set up under the chair of a Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education & Human Resources and comprising representatives of the Ministry of Finance & Economic Development, the Ministry of Labour, Industrial Relations & Employment and the Mauritius Employers’ Federation would monitor the Programme.
7. Cabinet has taken note of the school calendar for primary and secondary schools for the year 2006. Admission of new entrants in Standard I and Form I is scheduled for Tuesday 10 January and Wednesday 11 January 2006 respectively. All other classes in primary schools will resume on Wednesday 11 January 2006 and secondary schools students, except Lower VI students, will resume classes on Thursday 12 January 2006. As regards Lower VI students, classes will start on Tuesday 31 January 2006, after the release of Cambridge School Certificate results. The first term will end on 7 April 2006. The second and third terms will begin and end as follows:
2nd Term - Monday 24 April to Friday 14 July 2006
3rd Term - (i) Monday 14 August to Friday 10 November 2006 (Primary Schools)
(ii) Monday 7 August to Friday 27 October 2006 (for Secondary Schools).
8. Cabinet has taken note that, during a Regional Conference of Ministers responsible for vocational and technical training organized by the Agence Intergouvernementale de la Francophonie and scheduled to be held in Seychelles on 28 and 29 September 2005, an Agreement aiming at developing and promoting bilateral and multilateral cooperation in the field of vocational and technical training among the Francophone States of the Indian Ocean would be signed.
9. In the wake of the sustained increase in the price of oil on the world market, Cabinet has taken note that the Ministry of Public Utilities, in collaboration with the CEB, would launch a campaign to sensitize the public on the need to save energy. The campaign would comprise inter alia -
(i) implementation of appropriate energy saving measures by Ministries/Government Departments and parastatal bodies;
(ii) distribution to all households of booklets, with graphical illustrations, on electricity saving tips; and
(iii) distribution by the second week of October 2005 to primary and lower secondary students of stickers bearing the campaign mascot accompanied by a message on the need for and merits of energy saving.
10. Cabinet has taken note that the following meetings would be held in Mauritius-
(a) the 2005 Rotating International Visitors’ and NCD School Workshop, organized by the Ministry of Health and Quality of Life, in collaboration with WHO Headquarters (Geneva) and WHO Regional Office for Africa, from 25 to 29 October 2005. The aim of the workshop is to present theory and practice of chronic diseases prevention policies and programmes to stakeholders, National NCD Programme Managers and other officers of WHO Member States involved in planning, implementation and evaluation of national action plans in the field of chronic diseases prevention and health promotion; and
(b) the ITU-AFRALTI Telecommunications Marketing Workshop, organized by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) in collaboration with Mauritius Telecom, from 24 to 28 October 2005. The objective of the workshop which would be attended by about 25 participants from English Speaking African Member countries of the ITU, is to provide opportunities to senior staff in highly technical and managerial position to receive advanced level specialized training in inputs of telecommunications network operations and management, telecommunications policy regulations as well as computer technologies.
11. Cabinet has taken note of the reconstitution of the Town and Country Planning Board with Mr A.N. Oozeer, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Housing & Lands as Chairperson.
12. Cabinet has taken note that the National Solidarity Fund Act was amended in April 2005 to provide for the payment of contribution to the National Solidarity Fund in respect of the Workers Hardships Relief Scheme in favour of employees of the public sector and parastatal bodies. Although the former Government had pledged a one-off contribution of about Rs 6m based on the number of Government employees and those of the parastatal bodies, the amendment to the law did not provide for collection of contribution in that respect. Cabinet has therefore agreed to the National Solidarity Fund Act being amended to provide for the contribution of Government.
13. Cabinet has taken note that Divali would be celebrated at National level on 29 October 2005 at Anjalay Stadium.
14.Cabinet has agreed to a proposal of UNESCO to carry out a feasibility study for the setting up of an Indian Ocean Observatory of Cultural Diversity which aims at promoting reciprocal knowledge and interaction and cultural exchanges mainly among countries of the Indian Ocean Region and countries of origin of the present populations of the Region and undertake such progammes and projects leading to the preservation of their cultures.