1. In conformity with the provisions of the Business Facilitation (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, Cabinet has taken note that the Eighth Schedule to the Local Government Act would be amended to reduce the number of classified trades from 706 to 186 with a view to streamlining the vast array of trades into three main clusters and to harmonising the fees being claimed for the different trades by different local authorities.
Cabinet has, further, taken note that major changes have also been brought to the Local Government Act 2003, viz., -
(i) the clustering of economic activities into three main clusters, viz., services, commercial and industrial. Certain activities which cannot be specifically categorized within any of these three clusters have been classified as sui generic or “standing on their own”. Henceforth, a change of economic activity within the same cluster would not require a fresh Building and Land Use Permit.
(ii) The merging of the Building Permit and the Development Permit into one single Building and Land Use Permit.
(iii) The issue of a Building and Land Use Permit within three working days of effective date of application in cases of small enterprises, or, handicraft enterprises falling under the Small Enterprises and Handicraft Development Authority Act 2005.
(iv) The setting up of a Permits and Business Monitoring Committee at the level of the Local Authority for the issue of a Building and Land Use Permit within two weeks of the effective date of application.
2. Cabinet has agreed to the introduction into the National Assembly of the Criminal Code (Amendment) Bill which amends the Criminal Code by creating the offence of culpable omission which will apply to persons who willfully fail to prevent the commission of another offence or to offer assistance to a person who is in danger.
3. Cabinet has taken note that the footprint of the dish antenna installed in Rodrigues for the transmission of MBC TV signals, also covers Agalega and the MBC and MultiCarrier (Mauritius) Ltd (MCML) are proposing to carry out reception tests in Agalega in the first fortnight of October 2006. In case the tests are successful, MBC and MCML propose to install permanently two Direct-to-Home (DTH) reception units in Agalega, i.e., one on North Island and the other on South Island, for the reception of MBC TV 1, MBC TV3, Radio Mauritius and Kool FM. The two DTH reception units would enable the inhabitants of Agalega to receive television and radio programmes round-the-clock on a community basis.
4. In order to address the deficiencies in the present school curriculum and also to achieve the objective of creating the required conditions for a World Class Quality Education, Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the national debate on curriculum reform and of the Report on "Towards a Quality Curriculum - A Strategy for Reform".
The Report proposes the introduction of a new curriculum for the pre-primary, primary and secondary education sectors. The new education strategies would take into account the local socio-cultural reality and the need for strengthening national solidarity, as well as empower students to become rationally autonomous individuals, capable of constantly adapting to changes in all sphere of life, while maintaining a high sense of moral integrity and care towards fellow citizens.
The goals of the National Curriculum are inter alia to –
(a) promote an all-round development of the individual – physical, intellectual, social and emotional – leading to a balanced, active, healthy and productive lifestyle;
(b) foster understanding and appreciation of the biological, physical and technological world to enable the learner to arrive at informed decisions about the environment and the changing needs for our society and those of the individuals;
(c) develop in the learner skills and knowledge for empowering students to participate meaningfully in an information-driven economy;
(d) develop creative thinking skills and learning competencies; and
(e) promote a culture of life-long learning for greater access to an ever-changing job market.
5. Cabinet has taken note of a project proposal between the Ministry of Education & Human Resources and the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust (SSAT) for the creation of powerful and innovative networks of schools that have achieved or have committed themselves to achieving systematic, significant and sustained change that ensures outstanding outcomes for all students in all settings.
The SSAT, a UK-based charitable and non-profit making organization set up in 2004, comprises a network of over 2900 schools, including primary, secondary and specialist schools and academies, known as the International Networking for Educational Transformation (iNET), which is committed to transforming learning through innovations.
The objectives of the project are to –
(a) identify, develop, validate and disseminate effective practice;
(b) enable the SSAT and its affiliated schools to contribute to the worldwide movement to transform education;
(c) establish an international leadership qualification for school leaders; and
(d) support and develop an identified ethos of cooperation and development within an international context.
6. With a view to protecting the environment from haphazard disposal of waste oil, Cabinet has taken note that the Minister of Environment & National Development Unit would promulgate the Environment Protection (Collection, Storage, Treatment, Use and Disposal of Waste Oil) Regulations 2006 under the Environment Protection Act 2002 with a view to allowing inter alia operators not holding an EIA Licence to, also, collect and transport used oil under strict guidelines.
Waste oil is any oil that has become unfit for use as a result of physical or chemical permanent change in its original composition and properties. Waste oil is hazardous in nature and it contains many toxic heavy metals and other substances. Its haphazard disposal poses a threat to human health and the environment.
7. Cabinet has taken note of the setting up, by an Indian company, of biotechnology projects for –
(i) the manufacture of bioenzyme to boost up fruit processing and the wine industry, and to open up opportunities for local entrepreneurs involved in the sector, in particular fresh juice production;
(ii) polyhouse farming for floriculture, tissue culture plantation and open farming;
(iii) biogas and vermi-culture which will bring a novel way of treating and adding value to farmwaste; and
(iv) the production of frozen bovine semen for artificial insemination from imported high quality bulls for exportation to European countries.
Mauritius will benefit from the project in the following ways:
(i) development of an export market for bovine semen and flowers, e.g. rose and gerbera;
(ii) availability of frozen semen or fresh semen to local farmers at a favourable price;
(iii) production of goat semen, in a second phase, would give our farmers easy access to goat semen;
(iv) training opportunities for the staff of the Division of Veterinary Services of the Ministry of Agro Industry & Fisheries and other interested stakeholders; and
(v) transfer of technology and capacity building.
8. In line with Government’s objective to further consolidate tourist arrivals, Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of bilateral air services talks held in Bangkok in September 2006, between the Aeronautical Authorities of Thailand and Mauritius to review the provisions of the existing Bilateral Air Services Agreement which dates as far back as 1992. A Memorandum of Understanding had, subsequently, been signed providing inter alia for –
(i) the principle of multiple designation of airlines for each side;
(ii) the Route Schedule providing for any number of points of access in Thailand, intermediate points and beyond points;
(iii) each Contracting Party having the right to operate up to seven weekly frequencies for passenger service on the specified routes between the two countries;
(iv) no restrictions on all-cargo services; and
(v) Air Mauritius operating to Bangkok in code share agreement with Air Madagascar or using Bangkok as intermediate point during operations on the Mauritius/China or Mauritius/Hong Kong routes.
9. Following a judgment from the Supreme Court on the constitutional validity of minimum sentences, Cabinet has taken note that a Criminal Justice (Sentencing Provisions) Bill would soon be introduced into the National Assembly with a view to addressing the issue generally.
10. In order to harmonise the application of Route Air Navigation Charges in line with ICAO requirements, Cabinet has taken note of the implementation by the Department of Civil Aviation of a new scheme for Route Air Navigation Charges at the Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport as from 1 February 2007.
11. Cabinet has taken note of the promulgation of the Civil Aviation (Passenger Solidarity Fee) Regulations 2006 and the Civil Aviation (Amendment of Schedule) Regulations 2006 which provide for the imposition of a Passenger Solidarity Fee on all passengers leaving Mauritius by air. The proceeds would be remitted to the International Drug Purchase Facility – UNITAID Trust Fund as Government’s contribution to the Innovative Financing for Development, an initiative of the President of the Republic of France, to combat poverty and the spread of the three devastating pandemics, viz., HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
12. Cabinet has taken note of the holding of the Zone 7 Games of the Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa (ANOCA) in Mauritius from 30 November to 4 December 2006 under the aegis of the Mauritius National Olympic Committee.
ANOCA, of which the Mauritius National Olympic Committee is a member, regroups all National Olympic Committees at the level of the African Continent. Africa is divided into seven sports zones and Zone 7 comprises Comoros, Djibouti, Madagascar, Mauritius and Seychelles.
About 100 athletes, under the age of 20 years, will participate in the Games in five sports disciplines, namely athletics, boxing, judo, swimming and table tennis, in view of the Ninth All Africa Games scheduled in Algeria from 5 to 20 July 2007 and of the next Olympic Games to be held in Beijing, China in 2008.
13. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of –
(i) the investment promotion mission of the Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Finance & Economic Development to Malaysia; and
(ii) the 2006 Joint IMF/World Bank Annual Meetings held in Singapore.
The Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Finance & Economic Development carried out an Investment Promotion Mission to Malaysia with a view to raising the level of awareness of opportunities in the Malaysian business community for attracting higher level of FDI from Malaysia. A business networking session, organized by GOPIO (Malaysia) and the Indian Business Chamber of Malaysia, was, inter alia, held with leading Malaysian businessmen of Indian origin, and projects relating to the following were discussed:
(i) the setting up of a University in Mauritius and a boutique hotel;
(ii) ICT and telecommunication project;
(iv) freeport activities; and
(v) construction and real estate development.
The 2006 Joint IMF/World Bank Annual Meeting was held against a backdrop of continued robust world economic expansion and recognition of the growing weight of emerging economies. Mauritius has earned the high respect of the international community on account of its reform initiatives, for the efforts in pushing forward with the Aid for Trade Agenda and its active role in the WTO Task Force.
In the margins of the meeting, the Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Finance & Economic Development had a number of bilateral meetings with friendly countries, including Australia, Belgium, Finland and New Zealand.
14. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the Political Session of the 2006 Africities Summit held in Nairobi, Kenya from 21 to 22 September 2006. The Summit focused on the contribution of African Local Governments for an effective implementation of the Millenium Development Goals which affirmed the urgent need to combat poverty and improve the living conditions of the people.
Issues discussed during the Political Session were capacity building of local Governments in many areas, such as conflict and urban management; access to basic services for all, decentralized cooperation, New Partnership for African Development, etc.
15. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the Special Session of the African Union (AU) Conference of African Ministers of Health held on 21 and 22 September 2006 in Maputo, Mozambique.
The main objective of the Special Session was to adopt a comprehensive approach to the delivery of universal sexual and reproductive health and rights, and HIV/AIDS services in Africa. It, also, aimed at endorsing a budgeted Action Plan for the implementation of the Continental Policy Framework on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights in Africa.
The Conference was attended by delegates from 48 AU Member States and representatives of International and Regional Organisations and NGOs. The Conference culminated in the approval of the Maputo Action Plan for the Operationalisation of the Continental Policy Framework on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights which is built on eight action areas, viz.-
(i) integration of Sexual and Reproductive Health services into Primary Health Care;
(ii) repositioning family planning;
(iii) youth-friendly services;
(iv) unsafe abortion;
(v) quality safe motherhood;
(vi) resource mobilization;
(vii) commodity security; and
(viii) monitoring and evaluation.
Cabinet has, further, taken note of the round table held in the margins of the Conference with the theme "Programme Approaches for Linking of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights and HIV/AIDS Services".
16. Cabinet has taken note of the nomination of Mr S. Mohammad Doman as Chairperson of the National Youth Council.