1. With a view to putting an end to the plight of the poorest segment of the population whose premises are located far from existing electricity network and enhancing their living conditions through access to electricity supply, Cabinet has taken note of the modalities for the operation of the Assistance Scheme put in place by Government for the supply of electricity to them, viz., -
(i) the Scheme would be exclusively applicable to a domestic consumer who is first-time-owner of a house;
(ii) an application for assistance should be submitted to the CEB on the prescribed form, available at any CEB regional sub-office;
(iii) the applicant should have the appropriate Building Permit /Development Permit in his/her name; and
(iv) the Scheme does not cover CEB security deposit and connection fee.
2. In line with the framework for the Empowerment Programme, Cabinet has taken note that the Ministry of Social Security, National Solidarity and Senior Citizens Welfare & Reform Institutions proposes to embark on a new scheme which provides for heavily subsidized housing and other financial benefits to the most vulnerable segment of the population, namely, households earning an income of Rs 4,000 monthly or less, and which cannot aspire to secure a housing loan either from the Mauritius Housing Company Ltd. or the National Housing Development Company Ltd. The project which is multi-pronged is linked to education of children of beneficiaries, training, employability and entrepreneurship. 150 households, including 76 ex-NHDC squatter families, would be targeted on a pilot basis.
3. Cabinet has agreed to the introduction into the National Assembly of the Public Procurement Bill which is benchmarked with international standards and practices,
(a) repeals and replaces the Central Tender Board Act;
(b) provides for the establishment of a Central Procurement Board to cater for all forms of procurement by public bodies;
(c) contains detailed provisions setting out the various procurement options that may be available to a public body and lays down the principles and procedures for the procurement process;
(d) makes provision for the setting up of a Procurement Policy Office which would be responsible to formulate policy for the operation of a transparent and efficient public procurement system;
(e) enables a bidder or potential bidder to challenge the procurement proceedings of a public body at any stage and to request the Chief Executive Officer of the public body to consider his complaint and, where appropriate, take remedial action; and
(f) establishes an Independent Review Panel to consider appeals against decisions of a Chief Executive Officer.
4. Cabinet has agreed to the introduction into the National Assembly of the Tourism Authority Bill which provides for the establishment of a Tourism Authority to cater for a more efficient regulatory framework in relation to activities within the tourist sector with a view to ensuring that international standards are complied with and to sustaining the development of Mauritius as a high quality and safe tourist destination.
The Bill repeals and replaces existing laws governing tourist enterprises and pleasure crafts and provides for –
(a) the licensing of tourist enterprises;
(b) the registration and licensing of pleasure crafts;
(c) the licensing of skippers;
(d) the introduction of canvasser permit; and
5. Cabinet has agreed to the implementation of a housing development programme for the lower middle income group at Military Road and Penang Street, Port Louis. The integrated housing project would comprise of flats, a library, a police post, kindergarten and other community facilities.
6. Cabinet has agreed to the setting up of a Task Force to look into the implementation of the proposals recommended by Mr David Davies, Executive Director of the English Football Association, to attract top foreign international teams to Mauritius for training in the context of the Football World Cup 2010 in South Africa and to encourage overseas football professionals and other sportsmen to consider Mauritius as a holidaying destination.
In his report, Mr Davies has pointed out that Mauritius has the potential to attract three to four top foreign international teams and has recommended that an appropriate marketing and public relations strategy be put in place with the collaboration of all stakeholders and that our football infrastructural facilities be upgraded.
7. Cabinet has taken note that the Ministry of Labour, Industrial Relations & Employment, jointly with the International Labour Organisation, would organise a Policy Course and a Course Directors' Course on SOLVE from 7 to 19 December 2006.
SOLVE is an interactive educational programme designed by the ILO to assist in the development of policy and action to address psycho-social problems at the workplace. The concept focusses on problems which are associated with Stress, tObacco, aLcohol and drugs, HIV/AIDS and violencE both physical and psychological, and which can occur individually or together in a negative spiral leading to accidents, fatal injuries, diseases and absenteeism at work. The SOLVE programme aims at breaking down the negative spiral through a prevention-oriented approach.
The SOLVE Policy Course and the SOLVE Course Directors’ Course for a group of potential trainers would be held back to back from 07 to 19 December 2006 with
Dr David Gold, ILO Senior Specialist on Psychosocial Issues and Coordinator of the Infocus Programme on Safety and Health at Work, as resource person. Twenty-four participants from both the public and the private sectors, as well as representatives of workers and employers’ organisations would follow the courses. On completion of the two courses, the participants would disseminate the benefits of the training received within their respective enterprises and act as trainers, when called upon to do so, in future SOLVE educational programmes. The Minister of Labour, Industrial Relations & Employment has taken up with Dr D. Gold the possibility of Mauritius joining the programme and eventually becoming a Centre of Excellence for the SOLVE project in the region.
8. Cabinet has taken note of arrangements made to properly staff and equip the Cyclone Refugees Centres with a view to providing safety and basic amenities to refugees during the forthcoming Cyclone Season.
9. Cabinet has taken note of twinning proposals between the City of Port Louis and Hyderabad (India), as well as the City of Port Louis and Karachi (Pakistan).
Hyderabad is India’s sixth largest metropolis and an emerging information technology and biotech hub of India. The twinning would further strengthen cultural ties between Port Louis and Hyderabad.
The twinning with Karachi, the financial capital of Pakistan, would further consolidate bilateral relations and promote existing socio-cultural and historical links between Mauritius and Pakistan. Recently, a business delegation visited Mauritius and has shown keen interest in financing development projects in Port Louis.
10. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Macroeconomic Sub-Committee Meeting held in Mauritius from 21 to 24 November 2006, which aimed at reviewing progress with regard to the Macroeconomic Convergence Programme, as agreed under the Protocol on Finance and Investment adopted at the SADC Summit in August 2006. The Meeting discussed, inter alia, –
(i) the presentation of the macroeconomic convergence programmes of member states involving the implementation of stability-oriented macroeconomic policies;
(ii) the summary of the regional picture of the macroeconomic convergence in terms of targets set, namely attaining single digit inflation, achieving a budget deficit of less than 5% of GDP, reducing public and publicly guaranteed debt below 60% of GDP, and maintaining a current account deficit of less than 9% of GDP;
(iii) the review of the selection of indicators and benchmarks for macroeconomic convergence; and
(iv) institutional arrangements for the macroeconomic convergence implementation through the establishment of a Macroeconomic Policy Surveillance Unit within the SADC Secretariat and a Peer Review Panel that would review the annual macroeconomic convergence report and make necessary recommendations for adjustments of macroeconomic policies.
11. Cabinet has taken note that the Ministry of Agro Industry & Fisheries, jointly with the Soil and Water Management Research Network East and Central Africa, would host a workshop in Mauritius from 29 January to 02 February 2007.
The theme of the workshop would be “Process for Effective Dialogue, Formulation and Harmonization of Policies and Strategies on Agricultural Water Management in Eastern and Southern Africa”.
The overall goal of the project for Improving Management of Agricultural Water in Eastern and Southern Africa is to enable poor producers in Eastern, Central and Southern Africa to increase their incomes through improved management of agricultural water, and to enhance the development impact of public and private investments in smallholder agricultural water management.
12. Cabinet has taken note of the promulgation of the National Pensions (Increase in Pensions) Regulations 2006, the National Pensions (Pension Points) (Amendment) Regulations 2006, and the National Pensions (Industrial Injuries) (Amendment) Regulations 2006.
The regulations would provide for the annual increase in Contributory Pensions, Disablement Pension & Survivors’ Pension in accordance with the annual increase to wages and salaries in the public and private sectors. This measure would prevent erosion of the purchasing power of those pensions.
13. With a view to attracting Foreign Direct Investment and concessional financing from the development community which is essential in the successful implementation of the economic reform programme embarked upon, Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the investment promotion mission of the Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Finance & Economic Development to England, Ireland, Northern Ireland and Luxembourg from 18 to 24 November 2006 where he sensitized business and economic operators, reputed Law firms and Financial Services providers on the new business environment that the last budget has put in place and to the opportunities that can be tapped.
In the UK, the Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Finance & Economic Development interacted with about 300 Mauritian Nationals on investment opportunities in Mauritius, specifically in the area of property development and the new facilitation regime put in place. He met Messrs Fosters and Partners, an architect firm, that is working on an integrated development project for the South West region of Mauritius that comprises an IRS, hotel development, bungalow set-up, eco-tourism landscaping and craft and artisan industries. The cost of the project is valued at about Euro 300m and provides about 3,500 jobs at construction and development site. On completion of the project, the development would generate 2,000 direct employment.
In Dublin, Republic of Ireland, the Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Finance & Economic Development met, among others, Mr Brian Cowen, T.D., Minister for Finance, who indicated the readiness of the Irish authorities to support Mauritius in its efforts to access development funds to support its economic reform programme.
In Luxembourg, the Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Finance & Economic Development met with representatives of the CITO to strengthen the existing links. He also proposed the possibility of sponsoring a post-graduate programme related to financial services at tertiary level in Mauritius.
The Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Finance & Economic Development also met his Belgian counterpart who intimated that the Belgium Government was prepared to commit resources between 4 million to 10 million Euros annually over the next 10 years to fund the adjustment programme.
14. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the recent mission of the Minister of Agro Industry & Fisheries to Berlin, UK and Japan.
In Berlin, the Minister of Agro Industry & Fisheries participated in the Third ACP Chief Negotiators Coordination Meeting held on 30 and 31 October 2006 where he formed part of the group of ACP Trade Ministerial and Chief Negotiators which met the German Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development and discussed a number of issues, including Economic Partnership and Aid For Trade. The German Minister gave the undertaking that the issue of EPA would be high on the German agenda when Germany would assume Presidency of the EU next year.
In UK, the Minister of Agro Industries & Fisheries attended the consultation meeting with ACP Ministers held at the Commonwealth Secretariat on 01 November 2006. In the margins of the meeting, he met -
(i) Mrs Kinnock, Co-President of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly;
(ii) Mr Andrew Mitchell, Shadow Secretary of State for International Development;
(iii) the UK Secretary for Trade and Industry;
(iv) British seafood companies, namely, Smales and Sons in Hull, Young’s Seafood Ltd and Samskip in Grimsby; and
(v) Mrs Wade of the British Agri-food Consortium.
The Minister of Agro Industry & Fisheries, also, participated in the 15th International Sugar Organisation (ISO) and ISO Council Meeting which had as theme "World sugar and ethanol – new cards, new game" The Council focussed on the implications of the EU Sugar Policy reform on sugar and beet producers and discussed, inter alia –
(i) the complexity of the Sugar Protocol in the contest of EPA negotiations;
(ii) the adverse effect of EU sugar reform on LDCs;
(iii) the contribution of Aid for Trade in the Doha Development Agenda; and
(iv) Everything but Arms Initiative.
In Japan, the Minister had bilateral meetings in the fisheries sector with the Overseas Fisheries Cooperation Foundation (OFCF), Fisheries Agency of Japan, Japan International Cooperation Agency, Japan Tuna Fisheries Cooperative Associations and the National Research Institute of Far Seas Fisheries. OFCF has agreed to provide assistance for the setting up of an ice making plant.
15. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the SADC Ministerial Meeting on the African Regional Social Policy held in Johannesburg from 21 to 24 November 2006 which aimed at strengthening the social policy dimension of NEPAD in tandem with the draft social policy framework for Africa. The Ministerial Meeting finalised the draft African Regional Social Policy Action Plan which would form part of the NEPAD Action Plans and formulate a road map for its implementation. The document, inter alia, -
(a) articulates a conceptualization of social policy at the African national and regional levels which would be integrated in the social policy dimension of NEPAD;
(b) builds on the AU’s Draft Social Policy Framework for Africa to develop a Regional Social Policy Framework for the SADC sub-region;
(c) proposes a series of Regional Statements of Policy and Programmes that could be implemented as NEPAD projects and address the social challenges, including –
(i) higher education and regional research;
(ii) disaster prevention and management;
(iii) children, youth, older persons, persons with disabilities, refugees and minorities; and
(iv) human rights, social and economic empowerment.
16. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the Fifth Meeting of the "Conseil Permanent des Jeux des Iles de l'Ocean Indien" (CIJ) held in Madagascar from 13 to 15 November 2006 to review progress concerning the organization of the Seventh Indian Ocean Islands Games in 2007.
The CIJ, inter alia, -
(i) approved the General and Technical Rules and Regulations of the Games as validated by the relevant International Sports Federations;
(ii) decided to include boxing competitions for women; and
(iii) reviewed swimming events for athletes with disabilities.