1. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the official mission of the Prime Minister to Maseru, Lesotho where he attended the 26th Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) on 17 and 18 August 2006.
At the Summit, the Prime Minister made inter alia a strong plea for a SADC Conference on Poverty and Development as SADC had not delivered on the eradication of poverty. The Conference fits in with the SADC common agenda to “promote sustainable and equitable economic growth and socio-economic development that will ensure poverty alleviation with the ultimate objective of its eradication, enhance the standard and quality of life of the people of Southern Africa and support the socially disadvantaged through regional integration”. The Conference is in line with the 2002 SADC Consultative Conference attended by International Cooperating Partners and having as theme “SADC Institutional Reform for Poverty Reduction through Regional Integration”.
The Prime Minister also made the following points:-
(i) poverty is multi-dimensional. It is about jobs, access to health and other public services, a sound environment, education, housing, training, and a society free from crime and drug abuse;
(ii) the surest way to poverty reduction is economic growth which provides the resources and capacity for state social spending required to attack poverty directly, while generating jobs required and help people improve their own situation;
(iii) improved market access helps in realising the development promise. The international community must aim for an ambitious outcome to the Doha Round of negotiations and there should be more commitment to agree on the market for services; and
(iv) the re-distribution of power, wealth and opportunities by Government to the many, citing as example, the Mauritius Empowerment Programme, 2006-2015.
The statement made on Poverty and Development by the Prime Minister was well received by the SADC Summit and the Media. Poverty and Development would be on the Agenda at the Extraordinary Summit in October 2006.
The Summit also considered the readmission of Seychelles into SADC. The Prime Minister fully supported the proposal. After discussions, it was agreed that the Chairperson of SADC and the Prime Minister would have consultations with the Seychelles so as to enable it to, eventually, rejoin SADC.
The Summit brainstormed on the main milestones for deepening regional integration as set out in the SADC 15-year Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP), namely Free Trade Area (2008), Customs Union (2010), Common Market (2015) and Monetary Union (2018). The setting up of a SADC Customs Union, encompassing all Member States was, also, evoked.
The Summit also discussed, inter alia, -
(a) Avian and Pandemic Human Influenza Preparedness and Response Plan;
(b) Development of SADC Protocol on Science, Technology and Innovation;
(c) Preparations for 2010 World Cup, South Africa;
(d) Scaling-up the implementation of the SADC Integration Agenda;
(e) Review of Economic and Social situation;
(f) Community-building through the System of Protocols;
(g) New SADC Headquarters;
(h) Relationship with the African Union (AU) and International Cooperating Partners (ICPs).
The Prime Minister, also, seized the opportunity to have discussions with Heads of State and Government of Mozambique, Madagascar and Namibia on issues of bilateral interest.
Cabinet has agreed to a Committee under the Chairmanship of the Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Finance & Economic Development working on the SADC Conference on Poverty and Development.
2. Cabinet has taken note of action initiated by the High Level Committee to address the issue of Tardy Declaration of Birth both in Mauritius and Rodrigues. The Committee has recently identified 156 new undeclared cases. As at 14 August, 2006, 414 cases have been regularized in Mauritius. There are 143 cases still pending. As regards Rodrigues, of the 12 pending cases, nine have been regularized and the remaining three would be cleared shortly.
The Committee has, also, identified 10 cases where persons more than 45 years old had not been declared. The Committee has attended to three such cases and three others would be cleared by the first week of October 2006.
3. In line with Government objectives to streamline procedures for the early delivery of services, Cabinet has taken note of measures taken by the Attorney General's Office to further reduce the delay, from more than one year to approximately five months, in obtaining a change of name. The process will now be as follows –
(a) when an application is made, the applicant would be requested to immediately give notice thereof at least three times in the Gazette and two daily newspapers in accordance with the provisions of the Civil Status Act;
(b) the Commissioner of Police would, also, be immediately requested to make his enquiry and report on the application; and
(c) at the end of the four months’ delay and upon taking cognisance of the report and any objection raised, the Attorney General would make his decision whether to grant or refuse the change of name.
4. Cabinet has taken note of activities to be organized to mark the 106th Birth Anniversary of Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam, Father of the Nation. The programme will comprise, inter alia, of –
(i) an official wreath-laying ceremony in front of the statue of
Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam at Esplanade Prof. Basdeo Bissoondoyal, Port Louis;
(ii) wreath laying ceremony at the Samadhi of Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam;
(iii) Essay Writing Competitions for Secondary Schools on the two
themes, viz. -
* “Life and Achievements of Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam”;
* “Contribution of Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam towards the promotion of Education”;
(iv) a Poetry Writing Competition for Secondary Schools on the theme,
“Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam, the pride of the Nation”; and
(v) an Open Day at Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Memorial Centre for Culture, including visits by children of primary schools;
(vi) issue of a Commemorative envelope;
(vii) distribution of Bookmarks to students of primary, secondary and tertiary educational institutions;
(viii) song competitions in Bhojpuri, Creole, Hindi, Mandarin, Marathi, Tamil, Telegu and Urdu; and
(ix) literary and cultural programme at SSR Memorial Park, Kewal Nagar, Belle Rive.
5. Cabinet has taken note of the findings and recommendations of the Mauritius Urban Transport Policy Note of July 2006 prepared by the World Bank Team to address the chronic traffic congestion problems in the Curepipe – Port Louis Corridor and has agreed to the appointment of a Consultant to advise Government on the implementation of the revised Transport Action Plan.
6. Cabinet has taken note that Dr Odendaal, UNESCO Consultant, is completing the nomination dossier for the inscription of Le Morne as a World Heritage Site. Archaelogical remains found in the caves at Le Morne would be sent to South Africa with a view to verifying the time period of their deposition with a view to adding strength to the dossier.
7. With a view to providing an opportunity to Senior Citizens of Mauritius and India to interact and exchange views on issues pertaining to the elderly, Cabinet has taken note of the visit of a delegation comprising 25 members from Anugraha, India from 27 August to 3 September, 2006. Anugraha is an NGO working for the well-being of the elderly. The visiting team would include retired gerontologists, artists and NGO workers. The following activities would inter alia be organized –
(i) a training on Stress Management, Spirituality and Meditation;
(ii) a workshop focussing on –
(a) elderly care;
(b) protection of the elderly; and
(c) psychological and emotional health of the elderly.
8. Cabinet has taken note that the Ministry of Agro Industry & Fisheries would adhere to a regional project on Structure and Characteristics of Swordfish (Xiphias Gladius) stock in the Indian Ocean. So far, no in-depth study has been carried out on swordfish in the Indian ocean. The proposed project would eventually provide a more precise indication of the status of the stock of swordfish in the Indian Ocean, which has a high market value. It would also help boost up the development of the semi-industrial swordfish fishery.
Cabinet has also taken note that a workshop would be held in Réunion Island to discuss inter alia –
(i) genetic assessment of the swordfish in the Indian ocean;
(ii) the migratory scheme using microchemistry analysis of Otoliths;
(iii) data collection and analysis of the reproductive organs; and
(iv) the rate of mercury contamination in swordfish according to size and sex.
9. Cabinet has taken note of the list of names of cyclones adopted by the World Meteorological Organisation for the South-West Indian Ocean to be used during the 2006-2007 cyclone season, viz.,
10. Cabinet has taken note of the National Implementation Plan (NIP) with regard to the Enabling Activities for the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs). The Plan provides a policy framework and describes concrete interventions with a view to reaching the national objectives and priorities in the management of POPs in line with the obligations taken by Mauritius under the Stockholm Convention.
POPs are a set of toxic chemicals that persist in the environment for long periods of time, and bio-accumulate as they move up through the food chain. POPs have been linked to adverse effects on human health and animals, such as cancer, damage to the nervous system, reproductive disorders, and disruption of the immune system. POPs released in one part of the world can travel to regions far from their source of origin.
The Stockholm Convention, a global treaty, aims at protecting human health and the environment from POPs. The Convention obligates all participating countries to take measures to :
(i) eliminate or restrict the production, use and trade of intentionally produced POPs;
(ii) develop action plans to address the release of by-product POPs, such as using best available techniques to reduce emissions of POPs from new sources; and
(iii) address the safe handling and disposal of POPs stockpiles and wastes.
11. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the eighth Round of Negotiations on the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation and Partnership Agreement (CECPA) between India and Mauritius where the following issues were discussed –
- Preferential Trade Agreement;
- Operational Certificate of Procedures and Preferential Safeguard Measures;
- grant of market access to Mauritian textile;
- Trade in Services;
- collaboration in the ICT sector; and
- the setting up of an India-Mauritius Infrastructure Development Fund.
12. Cabinet has agreed to a proposal made by the Republic of Djibouti to enter into a Framework Agreement on Bilateral Cooperation with Mauritius with the aim of developing cooperation in the political, economic, cultural and technical fields. The Framework Agreement would provide a good basis to enhance bilateral relations in port infrastructure, logistics and management; shipping, fisheries and tourism development.
13. Cabinet has taken note that the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), in collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, International Trade & Cooperation, would host a workshop on Migration Dialogue for Southern Africa for SADC Member States from 11 to 13 October 2006 at La Plantation Hotel, Baie aux Tortues.
The objective of the workshop is to develop potential synergy between the profiles of African migrants and the demand from developed countries with a view to facilitating the transfer of vital skills and resources of the African Diaspora to their countries of origin. The IOM will assist Mauritius in attracting investment from the Mauritian Diaspora, as well as, encouraging savings and in building up new skills and capacities.
Apart from SADC Member States representatives from Comoros, Seychelles, Reunion Island, UN Agencies and AU and academics would be invited to attend the workshop.
14. In line with the WHO resolution on Cancer Prevention and Control, Cabinet has taken note of the holding of a Workshop on "Planning and Development of a National Cancer Control Programme (NCCP)" in Mauritius from 7 to 9 September 2006.
The development of a National Cancer Control Programme (NCCP) is a process which involves the review of the current disease and health care situation, evaluation of the potential impact of various disease control strategies, viz., prevention, early diagnosis/screening, treatment and palliative care, the setting of goals and priorities and the allocation of resources.
The main objectives of this NCCP Planning Workshop are to update and improve the performance of the many existing elements of cancer control into a comprehensive national system with combined effort of different sectors within the country and to make the most efficient use of available resources to develop a feasible, equitable, sustainable and effective NCCP tailored to the Mauritian situation.
Cabinet has also taken note that the Ministry of Health and Quality of Life is carrying out a series of cancer prevention and control activities, viz., the running of a National Cancer Registry, the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening Programme, and campaigns on the promotion of healthy diet, and hepatitis immunization.