1. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the fruitful visit of the Prime Minister to France from 29 to 31 March 2006. During his Meeting with President Chirac, the Prime Minister expressed his deep appreciation for the strong support that France has always extended to Mauritius. The Prime Minister explained to the President that Mauritius had always made a judicious utilization of funds from the European Development Fund and other financial institutions for its economic development but that the process of development was being jeopardized by the 36% reduction in the guaranteed price of sugar, the dismantling of the multi-fibre Agreement and the rising price of petroleum products. President Chirac was kept abreast of the economic restructuring plan prepared by Government to consolidate the existing pillars of the economy and to develop new areas of growth such as light engineering, the Integrated Resort Scheme, pharmaceutical, ICT, Marine Industry and medical tourism. The assistance of the French Government was sought to support the economic restructuring programme to enable the successful management of the economic transition.
President Chirac gave the Mauritian delegation the assurance that France would spare no effort to support the case of Mauritius at the level of the European Commission and other institutions. In addition, the French President declared that France would mobilize its own Institutions, such as the Agence Française de Development and its private sector arm PROPARCO to assist Mauritius. He was also appreciative of the decision of Mauritius to subscribe to the French initiative for the implementation of the project “Financements innovants pour l’aide au developpement” and for the ratification of the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expression. He agreed to extend any assistance required by Mauritius to combat the mosquito borne diseases presently affecting our region. President Chirac also agreed to Mauritians travelling to Reunion Island for a period of less than 15 days being exempted for the requirement of a visa. Both France and Mauritius had expressed satisfaction over the agreement reached between MBC and ‘Radio France Internationale’ for a 24-hour transmission of ‘RFI Monde’ on a specific FM channel.
The Prime Minister also had meeting with –
(a) Mr Thierry Breton, ‘Ministre de l’Economie, des Finances et de l”Industrie”, who confirmed that AFD would resume its activities in Mauritius shortly, and expressed his hope that that would pave the way for a meaningful partnership between the two countries;
(b) Mr Nicolas Sarkozy, Ministre d’Etat, Ministre de l’Interieur et de l’Amenagenment du Territoire, who agreed to extend all assistance in terms of training and equipment to improve the performance of our Police Force. He has given his agreement for a mission by a high official of the Security Forces of France to assist in the implementation of the reforms in the Police Force;;
(c) Mr Phillippe Douste-Blazy, Ministre des Affaires Etrangères, who stated that France was following closely the evolution of our economic situation and gave his assurance that France would remain a privileged partner in our economic development process and highlighted the strategic link Mauritius could serve between France, Asia and Africa;
(d) Mme Brigitte Girardin, Ministre déléguée à la coopération au Développement et a la Francophonie, who was supportive of the restructure of the Mauritian economy and informed that an evaluation mission would visit Mauritius to assess our funding requirements;
(e) Mr Jean Louis Debré, Président de l’Assemble Nationale, who also expressed the view that relationships between Réunion Island and Mauritius be further strengthened to allow both countries to optimize on their complementarities. He pointed out that France would take the initiative to convene a meeting of Ministers of Health of the Indian Ocean countries with a view to evolving a common approach to mosquito borne diseases.
(f) Mr K. Matsuura, Director General of UNESCO, who congratulated Mauritius for becoming the first country that had ratified the three cultural conventions for the preservation of the cultural diversity, i.e., 1972 Cultural Heritage Convention, the 2003 Convention on the Preservation of Intangible Heritage and the 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of cultural Expressions. He welcomed progress made to present the candidature of “Aapravasi Ghat” to the World Heritage Committee in 2006 and pledged the Secretariat’s support for the preparation of a second candidature of “Le Morne” which is linked to the history of Mauritius.
The Prime Minister attended a breakfast meeting organized jointly by the Mouvement des Entreprises de France (MEDEF) and the Board of Investment. The Meeting was attended by more than 90 Top Enterprises from France. During the Meeting, Mr Patrick Ducas, Executive Chairman of Gras Savoye who is also responsible for the Mauritian desk at MEDEF, stated that he would extend full support to Mauritius in its economic diversification programme. He cited Mauritius as a model of economic development and a ‘trait d’union entre l’Europe et l’Asie’.
As a unique mark of friendship and appreciation, the French President conferred upon the Prime Minister the title ‘Grand Officer de la Légion d’Honneur’, the highest distinction which a French President can confer.
The Prime Minister was also awarded the “Medaille de la Ville de Toulouse” by the French Minister of Foreign Affairs and former Mayor of Toulouse.
The French President accepted the invitation extended to him to effect an official visit to Mauritius at a time convenient to both countries.
A ‘Comité de Suivi’ has been set up to monitor and follow up on all issues raised by the Prime Minister during the visit.
2. Cabinet has considered the request of the relatives of Late Sir Gaëtan Duval and agreed to the “Ecole Hotelière de Maurice” being renamed after him in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the development of the country, particularly the tourism sector.
3. Cabinet has taken note of developments in the implementation of the Plaine Wilhems Trunk Sewer project, the biggest waste water project ever implemented in Mauritius. The project consists of providing sewerage infrastructure in the regions of Vacoas, Phoenix, Quatre Bornes, Rose Hill and Beau Bassin and aims at providing about 32,500 house connections. The Trunk Sewer components consists of the laying of about 26 km of trunk sewers from St Martin Treatment Plant to Glen Park and Hollyrood with two interceptors going towards Curepipe and towards Pont Fer Roundabout. Works are scheduled to be completed in February 2008.
4. Cabinet has agreed to the Rencontre Conjointe du Bureau du Comité de Suivi de la Conférence des Structures Gouvernementales Chargées des Droits de l’Homme dans l’Espace Francophone et des Réseaux Institutionnels de la Francophonie being held in Mauritius from 2 to 5 May 2006. It is expected that about 130 participants, including Ministers of Justice or Human Rights from French speaking countries would participate in the Meeting. The main objectives of the Meeting are to follow up on progress made by the Comité de Suivi de la Conférence de Brazzaville et des Réseaux Institutionnels de la Francophone since its first meeting in Marrakech in 2004 and to ensure a direct and effective collaboration between all francophone governmental and institutional structures in the context of the Cadres Stratégique Décennal adopted by the Ouagadougou Summit in November 2004 and the Report of the World Bank “Doing Business 2004”.
5. Cabinet took note of the outcome of the participation of the Attorney General, Minister of Justice & Human Rights in the “Seminaire d’Echanges sur la prevention des conflits et de la sécurité humaine” and of the meeting of the Bureau du Comité de Suivi de la Conférence des Structures Gouvernementales Chargées des Droits de l’Homme dans l’Espace Francophone et des Réseaux Institutionels de la Francophone held in Paris on 30 and 31 March 2006. The meeting of the Bureau du Comité de Suivi focused inter alia on discussions towards formulating a concerted stand of the Francophonie on the establishment and functioning of the UN Human Rights Copuncil and on forthcoming events on the Agenda International des Droits de l’Homme.
6. Cabinet took note of preparations that were underway for the forthcoming Presidential Elections in the Union of the Comoros. Government has expressed its readiness to provide all assistance for the smooth conduct of free and fair elections in the Comoros.
7. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of discussions the Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Finance & Economic Development had with Mr Louis Michel, Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid and of the main issues discussed at the Seminar on 10th EDF Programming in Brussels held on 23 and 24 March 2006. Since Mauritius assumed the chairmanship of the Indian Ocean Commission, the Deputy Prime Minister acted as spokesperson of the ESA countries. He presented the coordinated position of the region with regard to the question of configuration of the focal areas. Given the heterogeneity of the ESA region and the need for the consideration of subregional specificities, the following three focal areas were selected for the Regional Indicative Programme:
(i) Trade and Regional Integration;
(ii) Infrastructure development; and
(iii) Natural Resource Management, including food security and environment.
In the margins of the Seminar, the Deputy Prime Minister had meetings with Dr Mwencha, Secretary General of COMESA, with regard, inter alia, to the setting up of a Regional Multidisciplinary Centre of Excellence in Mauritius; Dr D. Reynders, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance of Belgium and Mr Joseph Daul, Chair of the EP Committee on Agriculture, with whom he discussed the issue of accompanying measures of the EU sugar reform.
8. Cabinet took note of the outcome of the Third Session of the Joint Working Group on Trade, Investment and Economic Cooperation between Mauritius and Pakistan held in Islamabad on 30 and 31 March 2006. In order to facilitate the implementation of Preferential Trade Agreement, both sides agreed to put in place institutional collaboration in the following areas -
(a) mutual administrative assistance in Customs matters;
(b) standardization, Certification Conformity Assessment and Training;
(c) sanitary and phytosanitary matters;
(d) State Trading Corporation; and
(e) Small and Medium Enterprises.
Other areas of cooperation in the areas of trade in services identified include –
- extension of the Pakistan’s campus facilities to Mauritius in order to respond to market needs in Mauritius and the region;
- the National Institute of Banking and Finance would explore the possibility of launching video conferencing and distance learning programme in the areas of banking and finance;
- Pakistan would share its experience in port, harbour and related infrastructural development.
9.Cabinet has taken note of the reconstitution of –
(i) the Mauritius Film Development Corporation with Mr Christian Nayna as Chairperson;
(ii) the National Institute of Cooperative Entrepreneurship Council with Mr Shamshuddin Durgahee as Chairperson;
(iii) the Cooperative Development Advisory Board with Miss Anjana Devi Ramburuth as Chairperson;
(iv) the St. Antoine Sugar Planters Cooperative Trust Board with Mr Vishal Ramkhalawon as Chairperson;
(v) the State Trading Corporation with Mrs Anuradha Appadoo as Chairperson;
(vi) the Cooperative Tribunal with Mr Pajanivel Veerapermal Mootoosamy as Chairperson; and
10.Cabinet has taken note that recommendations would be made for the following appointments –
(a) Mr Vijay Beeharry as Chairperson of State Property Development Company Ltd; and
(b) Mr Jean Fritz Thomas as Chairperson of Mauritius Ex-Services Trust Fund.
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