1. Cabinet has taken note of the performance of the EPZ Sector for the period January to October 2006. EPZ exports for period January to October 2006 compared to January to October 2005, show the following –
(i) Total EPZ exports growth has maintained at 13.3%;
(ii) Apparel and Clothing exports increased by 10.1% compared to 8.9%;
(iii) Textile Yarns & Fabrics exports increased by 16.1% compared to 17.4%;
(iv) Fish and Fish Preparation exports increased by 56.5%; and
(v) Optical goods exports maintained a growth rate of 42.1%.
2. Cabinet has taken note of the Cooperative Entrepreneurship Development Programme conducted by the National Institute for Cooperative Entrepreneurship to empower women, youth and unemployed through cooperatives.
The National Institute for Cooperative Entrepreneurship which was established under the Cooperatives Act 2005, aims at –
(a) providing facilities and engaging in research and training for the promotion and development of cooperative entrepreneurship, philosophy, principles and values;
(b) acting as a centre for the consolidation and development of the cooperative movement through education and training and for the exchange of information in the field of cooperatives; and
(c) promoting and developing capacity building through entrepreneurship and business leadership.
The objectives of the Cooperative Entrepreneurship Development Programme are to:
(a) inculcate the spirit of self-help which offers vast scope for self-employment;
(b) promote the culture of entrepreneurship among women and youth;
(c) empower participants to set up their own enterprises along the line of cooperatives;
(d) disseminate the values, philosophy and principles of cooperation; and
(e) reposition cooperatives to realize their full potential as a vehicle for socio-economic development.
The National Institute for Cooperative Entrepreneurship has been instrumental in the setting up of a number of cooperative societies which contribute to the alleviation of poverty and the creation of employment opportunities.
3. Following the success of the Caravane de L'Entrepreneuriat in promoting an entrepreneuship culture at all levels of the society, Cabinet has taken note that the Caravane de L'Entrepreuneriat was at Rivière des Anguilles on 6 December 2006 for the benefit of the inhabitants of the following villages –
(a) Bois Cheri;
(c) La Flora;
(g) Rivière des Anguilles;
(h) Souillac; and
On that occasion, 80 Certificates of Registration were issued for projects, such as garment making, distribution of general goods, general retailer, cultivation of strawberries and curtain making. Six cheques from DBM Ltd. were also issued to beneficiaries of loans.
Cabinet has also taken note that from July 2005 to November 2006, the Small Enterprises and Handicraft Development Authority (SEDHA) has registered 3822 enterprises out of which 2270 were new.
The next Caravane has been scheduled for mid-December 2006 at Dr Maurice Curé SSS, Vacoas.
4. Cabinet has taken note that a number of workers who have retired under VRS, have not yet obtained their land compensation. A Committee under the chairmanship of the Minister of Agro Industry & Fisheries is meeting regularly with a view to eliminating bottlenecks in completing infrastructural works on sites, the issue of title deeds and the necessary permits, and ensuring that all works are completed so that the beneficiaries could be allocated land in the least possible delay.
Cabinet has also taken note of developments in the phasing out of sugar camps. A total of 109 camps have, so far, been eliminated and 24 remain to be phased out.
5. Following an initiative of the Prime Minister to foster closer trade and economic cooperation with Asian countries and regional organisations, Cabinet has agreed to Mauritius applying for observer status in the Association of South East Asian Nations to enable Mauritius to interact with its member States for bilateral cooperation. Cabinet has, also, agreed to the signing of a Framework Agreement with Philippines which provides, inter-alia, for the setting up of a Joint Commission and the conclusion of sectoral agreements in areas of mutual interest, aimed at boosting bilateral trade and investment, as well as materialising the specific programmes of economic, cultural, scientific and technical cooperation. The sectoral agreements would include Free Trade Area, a Double Taxation Avoidance Treaty and Economic Cooperation, an Investment and Promotion Agreement, as well as, in –
(a) the production of energy from bagasse;
(b) exchange programmes between the University of the Philippines Los Banos and the University of Mauritius;
(c) tie-ups in the fields of Tourism and Seafood & Marine Industry; and
(d) ICT with regard to BPO, Disaster Recovery and shared service.
6. Cabinet has taken note of the National Biodiversity Strategy & Action Plan 2006-2015 prepared by the National Parks and Conservation Service in consultation with relevant stakeholders.
Mauritius was the first country to sign and ratify the Convention on Biological Diversity which aims at the conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of its components and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of genetic resources with a view to providing a sound basis for a country to pursue the goals of sustainable development when implemented through the Convention’s primary mechanism, i.e., the ecosystem approach.
The National Biodiversity Strategy & Action Plan has been prepared to meet the country’s obligations under the Convention on Biological Diversity and to provide a strategic approach for biodiversity management in Mauritius for the coming decade. The Action Plans for Mauritius and Rodrigues set out prioritized activities, with structured goals and targets as determined by extensive stakeholder consultations and input. Activities are based on the development of representative and viable protected area networks, the control of invasive alien species, the management of key components of biodiversity, the enhanced identification and monitoring of biodiversity and mechanisms to enable sustainable use through ecotourism development and sound management of natural resources. Emphasis is, also, placed on the sound application of modern technology through the balanced implementation of the provisions of the Cartegena protocol on Biodiversity.
7. Following the findings of the final reports on the Non-Communicable Diseases Surveys 2004 and the Nutrition Surveys 2004 which have revealed a high rate of diabetes and high prevalence risk factors and cardiovascular diseases among the population including children and adolescents, Cabinet has agreed to ban the sale of soft drinks, including diet soft drinks, in all educational institutions. Mauritius is ranked third amongst the countries in the world with the highest prevalence of diabetes after the “Pima Indians” of Arizona, USA and Nauru Island in the South Pacific. It is felt that the ban of soft drinks in educational institutions would go a long way towards reversing the situation.
8. Cabinet has taken note that a delegation led by the Hon R. Purryag, GOSK, Speaker of the National Assembly, would participate in the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas 2007 to be held in New Delhi from 7 to 9 January 2007. Pravasi Bharatiya Divas aims at sharing expertise and knowledge among people of Indian origin, building up networking opportunities and fostering cooperation to confer a mutual developing platform.
9. Consequent to the recent official visit of the Prime Minister to China, Cabinet has taken note that a delegation led by Mr Ma Ze, Secretary General of the Government of the City of Qingdao, would visit Mauritius from 18 to 21 December 2006.
During the visit the delegation intends to initial an agreement for cooperation between the Chambers of Commerce and Industry and the China Council for Promotion of International Trade and also a letter of intent for the twinning of the Grand Port/Savanne District Council with the City of Qingdao.
10. Cabinet has taken note of developments in the finalisation of the Management Plan and the Nomination Dossier for the inscription of Le Morne as a World Heritage Site.
Dr F. Odendaal, Heritage Consultant from South Africa, whose services were retained for the preparation of the Nomination Dossier, is currently in Mauritius to finalise the Nomination Dossier and work out the Management Plan for submission to UNESCO. During his stay, Dr Odendaal would carry out site visits and have several working sessions with different stakeholders including the promoters of the development projects at Le Morne.
The archaeological remains found in the caves at Le Morne were sent to South Africa and Netherlands for analysis. The results of the analysis, inter alia, confirm the existence of sporadic human occupation in the area and are consistent with various references in the literature to maroons plundering cultivated fields and taking domestic livestock.
11. Cabinet has taken note that 300 tonnes of controlled fish species, namely capitaine, butterfish and sacrechien, would be imported during the months of December 2006 and January 2007 to meet the high demand of frozen fish during the New Year Festivities.
12. Cabinet has taken note that the Centre de Lecture et d’Animation Culturelle (CLAC) would be converted into the Centre de Lecture Publique et d’Animation Culturelle following a recommendation by the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF), initiator of the CLAC project. Fifteen CLAC were set up under a convention signed between the Agence Intergouvernemental de la Francophonie, now known as the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie, and the Ministry of Arts and Culture with the objectives of developing and promoting reading habits and organizing cultural activities, particularly in rural areas.
As the CLAC Project is being phased out and in view of the satisfaction expressed by OIF on the status of the project in Mauritius, the OIF has proposed to integrate Mauritius within the countries benefiting from its programme, Appui aux Politiques Nationales de Lecture Publique which would be operated by a specific structure responsible for the promotion of Lecture Publique as is the case in other countries, such as Burkina Faso, Burundi, Haiti, Lebanon, Madagascar and Mauritania.
13. With a view to better meeting the challenges of the changing Mauritian Economy and the new demands of the fisheries sector in the context of the Sea Food Hub, Cabinet has taken note that the Fisheries Protection Service of the Fisheries Division of the Ministry of Agro Industry & Fisheries would be reorganized to strengthen enforcement of Fisheries Legislation and to provide a better service to stakeholders and the fisher community.
14. In the wake of Government’s effort to combat mosquito borne diseases, such as Chikungunya, Cabinet has taken note of the launching of a Public Education Campaign by the Ministry of Health and Quality of Life, in collaboration with AHRIM, with a view to sensitizing the population on measures to be taken for the elimination of mosquito-breeding grounds.
The campaign includes media and field activities, such as –
(i) spots on radio and TV;
(ii) inserts and adverts in newspapers;
(iii) posters on buses;
(iv) information kiosks in places visited by big crowds like supermarkets; and
(v) counselling and distribution of Health Education materials.
The theme of the campaign is “PIK LI AVAN LI PIK OU”.
15. Cabinet has agreed to the ratification of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa which was elaborated in 2005 by the Organisation of African Unity following the recommendation of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights.
The Protocol covers, inter alia, fundamental issues, such as the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women; protection of women from violence; exploitation of women; equal rights in marriage; preservation of rights in separation and divorce; access to legal services and legal aid; right to participation in the political and decision-making; equal access to education, training, employment, health, food security and housing; and special protection of elderly women and women with disabilities. It, also, aims at addressing emerging issues, like HIV/AIDS.
The Protocol has been inspired from several international conventions, viz., the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Convenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Convenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women and its Optional Protocol.
16. Cabinet has taken note of the installation of an artificial turf at the Quartier Militaire Stadium by the “Federation Internationale de Football Association”.
Artificial turf has the advantage of increased player comfort and safety, with low maintenance cost and extended usage. More clubs and teams would, therefore, have the opportunity to train and play on the artificial pitch during long hours, seven days a week.
17. With a view to ensuring that an adequate stock of blood is available during the end-of-year festive season and the current cyclonic period, the Ministry of Health and Quality of Life, in collaboration with the Blood Donors Association, would organize the Fifth Mega Blood Donation on the Esplanade of Emmanuel Anquetil Building, Port Louis, on 20 December 2006, from 7 00 hours to 18 00 hours.
18. Cabinet has taken note of the publication of the Family Planning and Demographic Yearbook 2005 which provides data and vital statistics on population, family planning and health service points. The salient features of the 2005 Yearbook are as follows –
(a) The population of the Island of Mauritius as at 31 December 2005 was 1,211,302 compared to 1,201,000 as at 31 December, 2004, thus showing an increase of about 0.9% within one year.
(b) The average life span for a Mauritian was 72.2 years during the period 2003-2005; life expectancy at birth was 75.59 years for females and 68.86 years for males.
(c) The crude birth rate was 14.9 per 1000 population in 2005, compared with 15.3 in 2004.
(d) The general fertility rate, which is the number of live births occurred per 1000 women aged 15 and 49 years, was 52.92 in 2005 compared with 54.58 in 2004.
(e) The crude death rate was 7.0 per 1000 population in 2005.
(f) In 2005, the infant mortality rate was 13.2 per 1000 live births compared with 14.0 in 2004, showing a decrease of 5.7% in one-year period.
(a) The population of Rodrigues as at 31 December 2005 was 36,994 compared with 36,772 in 2004, thus showing an increase of 0.6%.
(b) The crude birth rate was 24.3 per 1000 population in 2005.
(c) The total fertility rate was 2.84 per 1000 women in 2005, compared with 2.86 in 2004.
(d) The crude death rate was 6.1 per 1000 population in 2005, compared with 5.9 in 2004.
(e) The infant mortality rate was 12.3 per 1000 live births in 2005, compared with 19.5 in 2004.
19. Cabinet has taken note -
(i) of the appointment of Mr Abdool Raschid Meerun as High Commissioner of the Republic of the Mauritius to the Islamic Republic of Pakistan with residence in Islamabad on 20 October 2006;
(ii) that the Committee for the Special Fund for the Welfare of the Elderly has been reconstituted with Mrs Chandranee K. Bhuckory as Chairperson; and
(iii) of the appointment of Mr K. Ramful to the post of Director, Mauritius Standard Bureau.