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Prime Minister's Office>Cabinet Decisions taken on 17 March 2006

Cabinet Decisions taken on 17 March 2006

1. Cabinet has taken note that persons whose premises are located far from existing electricity network have to disburse substantial amount, ranging from Rs10,000 to Rs300,000, to have access to electricity supply. In order to alleviate their financial burden, Government has decided to set up a scheme which would provide assistance to such persons to enable them to have easy access to electricity supply. Through this scheme, Government and the Central Electricity Board will meet part of the costs of offsite works to connect the premises of new customers to the CEB network depending on the means of the applicants and the location of the buildings . This scheme will go a long way towards putting an end to the plight of the poorest segments of the population and enhancing their living conditions through access to electricity supply.
2. In order to create the necessary conditions for the setting up of decent social housing at a reasonable and affordable cost, Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the exploratory meeting cum working session on "Government Social Housing Projects on a Private Public Partnership basis" organized by the Ministry of Housing & Lands, the objectives of which were to take cognizance of the factors that have, so far, impeded the participation of the private sector in existing Government housing schemes and also to seek their views and proposals for the elaboration of the necessary framework to enlist the active participation of the private sector in the delivery of social houses.
3. Cabinet has taken note that Government strongly condemns the bloody attack by Israel on a prison in Jericho in West Bank in Palestine earlier this week killing one person and seizing six men from prison.
4. Cabinet has agreed to the introduction into the National Assembly of the Firearms Bill which aims at consolidating and streamlining the law relating to firearms as well as improving the control of import and export of firearms. The Bill also provides for –
(a) a more strict regulation of possession of firearms and ammunitions;
(b) the requirement of a Competency Certificate before a person can be licensed to hold a firearm;
(c) stringent conditions under which private security providers and their employees can hold firearms;
(d) a centralised system of firearm index to be kept by the Commissioner of Police;
(e) the registration of dealers and gunsmiths; and
(f) the creation of the offence of possession of firearm while under influence of intoxicating drink or a dangerous drug.
5. Cabinet had agreed to the introduction into the National Assembly of the Human Tissue (Removal, Preservation and Transplant) Bill which aims at providing the legal framework for carrying out the removal, preservation and transplant of human tissue, other than blood, under appropriate medical supervision. The Bill also provides for the setting up of an Organ and Transplant Board which will inter alia monitor all the activities governed by the Bill and ensure appropriate follow up thereon as well determine which persons and which health institutions will be permitted to perform activities relating to removal, preservation and transplant of human tissue.
6. As the existing legislation relating to the control and regulation of animals which dates back to 1925, does not respond to current exigencies and in line with Government's policy to position Mauritius as a seafood hub in the Indian Ocean, Cabinet has agreed to the Animal Diseases Act being replaced by a new piece of legislation to comply with International Treaties and Conventions established by FAO, WTO and "Office Internationale des Epizooties".
7. Cabinet has agreed to the promulgation of Regulations under section 14 of the Passports Act to provide for the introduction of revised Disembarkation and Embarkation Cards to replace the three cards previously being filled by incoming passengers and which would be user-friendly and provide essential information necessary for controlling diseases.
8. In the light of WTO Hong Kong Ministerial Declaration on "Aid for Trade" concept designed to assist developing countries which are losing out from preference erosion due to trade liberalization and to build their trade capacity, Cabinet has agreed that the main thrusts of the strategy of Mauritius on Aid For Trade will be inter alia to make the following proposals in respect of countries that participate in Aid for Trade –
(i) a transitional period where a country continues to benefit from a combination of trade preferences and/or accompanying measures pending restructuring having taken hold;
(ii) support to attract foreign investment to finance the restructuring of affected enterprises via mergers, acquisitions, joint ventures and other forms of investment as well as greenfield investment; and
(iii) a public sector concessional financial aid package from the EU and the G-7 to support upgrading of public infrastructure required to launch new sectors.
Cabinet has further agreed that Mauritius will continue to seek third country fabric status in the US as a transitional device to assist the country’s move to free trade and also to defend preferred access for ACP agricultural products in the EU as long as agricultural trade is not fully liberalized.
9. In order to harness the potential of the Chinese tourism market and enable the national airline to develop a sustainable traffic base between China and Mauritius, Cabinet has taken note that bilateral air services talks would shortly be held with the Chinese authorities.
10. In line with the Government’s strategy to promote agro-business as a productive economic activity, aiming at creating employment opportunities and developing entrepreneurship in the agricultural sector, Cabinet has taken note that the Ministry of Agro Industry & Fisheries, in collaboration with the Ministry of Industry, Small & Medium Enterprises, Commerce & Cooperatives, the University of Mauritius and the Agricultural Research and Extension Unit, is organizing a two-day Agro-Business Forum on 5 and 6 April 2006 at Octave Wiehé Auditorium, Réduit, the objectives of which are inter alia to -
(a) develop an awareness of prospects in the agro-business sector at local and regional levels;
(b) identify micro projects to be undertaken by vulnerable groups and women in particular;
(c) identify the needs for the Agricultural Technology Diffusion Scheme and establish the programme for the year; and
(d) elaborate a national strategy and also possibly a regional strategy for the development of agro industry.
11. In line with Government's Policy to provide necessary legal framework for the safe disposal of effluents, Cabinet has taken note that the Wastewater (Registration of Wastewater Carriers and Disposal of Wastewater) Regulations would be promulgated with a view to strengthening over the licensing of effluent carriers and disposal of wastewater, and empower the Wastewater Management Authority to inter alia impose the following conditions on vehicles carrying wastewater:
(a) all wastewater carriers would have to be registered annually with the WMA;
(b) vehicles carrying wastewater would have to meet certain basic requirements to ensure that effluents are not spilled; and
(c) inspection of a wastewater carrier by either a police officer in uniform or an authorized officer of the WMA who is empowered to collect samples from the wastewater carriers for analysis purposes.
12. Cabinet has taken note that the French Government would hold a festival of Francophone cultures to be known as “Francofffonies” from 16 March to 9 October 2006 to celebrate the diversity and vitality of Francophone Cultures around the world. On that occasion diverse events would be organized by local French authorities, including the broadcast of words derived from French and incorporated in the local language of the respective francophone countries.
13. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the visit of Dr Jong Wook LEE, Director General of the World Health Organisation, in Mauritius from 6 to 8 March 2006 and also of the issues discussed, namely:
(i) technical assistance to be provided in terms of consultancy for avian flu epidemic preparedness;
(ii) the setting up of a framework of diabetes; and
(iii) assistance to set up a Cancer Control Program.
During his visit, Dr Lee took stock of the preventive measures put in place in respect of non-communicable diseases and also proceeded with the launching of the WHO Global Report on Chronic Diseases at the Mauritius Institute of Health.