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Prime Minister's Office>Cabinet Decisions taken on 17 October 2008

Cabinet Decisions taken on 17 October 2008

1. Cabinet has taken note of developments on the sale to owners of the State land on which stands ex-CHA housing units. Cabinet has further taken note that out of 9840 applications received, 7448 have already been processed and approved, 7380 letters of intent issued and 772 cases are being processed. The Ministry of Housing and Lands would shortly launch a campaign to invite those who have not yet applied to become owner of the land on which stand their ex-CHA houses to do so. Moreover, the Ministry is also exploring possible solutions as regards some 2799 cases whose housing units stand on either Pas Géometrique, private land or railway land.

2. In line with Government’s policy of social integration and eradication of absolute poverty through education, Cabinet has taken note that financial assistance would be extended to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Port Louis for the construction of four confessional schools in deprived areas. In that connection, the Ministry of Education, Culture and Human Resources would sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the Roman Catholic Diocese. In 2007, Government had agreed to the Development Bank of Mauritius Ltd setting up a scheme to provide loans at concessionary rates for the construction of colleges/schools in disadvantaged areas by any religious/educational authority provided the latter satisfies conditions set by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Human Resources.

3. Despite the global downturn, Cabinet has taken note that tourist arrivals for the month of September 2008 registered a growth of 0.1% as compared to September 2007. Cabinet has further taken note that a Committee, under the chairmanship of the Vice-Prime Minister, Minister of Tourism, Leisure and External Communications and comprising all stakeholders, is closely monitoring the trend in the tourism sector, as well as considering measures to face the situation.

4. Cabinet has taken note that, following allegations made in the media regarding technical and security problems with the Tata buses purchased in June 2007 by the National Transport Corporation, a team of Mechanical Engineers of the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, Land Transport and Shipping inspected and road-tested 17 buses at random on 16 October 2008 and found that the buses were roadworthy, safe for passengers and generally in satisfactory condition. However, the buses had been extensively used with an average of 90,000 km for the last 15 months and required more frequent servicing.

5. Cabinet has taken note that in the context of the implementation of the sugar sector reform and in line with the Agreement signed between Government and the Mauritius Sugar Producers Association in April 2008, a Consultant of international repute would shortly be appointed to undertake a review of the energy sector as applicable to Independent Power Producers (IPPs). The Consultant would, inter alia, -
(i) determine whether the balance of risks between the Central Electricity Board and the IPPs is in accordance with international norms applicable to entities comparable to CEB and existing IPPs;
(ii) give an assessment of a fair return commensurate with the risks taken by the CEB and the IPPs; and
(iii) make any appropriate recommendations.

6. Cabinet has taken note of developments in the execution of the Mauritius National Identity Card project. The new identity card would be used for multiple applications, such as access to secured areas, payment of pensions and social security benefits, electronic purse, driving licence, health card and transport card.

7. In the context of the introduction of the e-Procurement System as enunciated in the National ICT Strategic Plan 2007-2011, Cabinet has agreed to a Steering Committee, under the chairmanship of the Procurement Policy Office, being set up to work out a strategy for the implementation of the System for Mauritius. The e-Procurement System would automate processes and work flows for improved efficiency in public procurement with the result that the tender cycle time would be significantly reduced and subjectivity in the evaluation of bids and potential risk of corrupt practices eliminated. Moreover, the automated workflows would ensure greater transparency and accountability, reduce, to a large extent, the human interface and increase supplier participation, thereby enabling Government to benefit from more competitive bids.

8. Cabinet has agreed to the Ministry of Youth and Sports taking into consideration an application from the female Volleyball team of Tranquebar which came out second in the National Championship and to, exceptionally, sponsoring its participation in the Indian Ocean Cup of Clubs Championship Games to be held in the Seychelles in November 2008.

9. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the mission of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade to Accra, Ghana, where he participated in the Sixth Summit of ACP Heads of State and Government and to Europe to participate in the ESA Mission on the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA).
The ACP Heads of State discussed a number of issues and developmental challenges confronting the ACP Group, such as climate change, rising food and oil prices, the current financial crisis, Economic Partnership Agreements and the Millennium Development Goals. During the Meetings, Mauritius proposed –
(a) the early implementation of the Euro 1 billion food facility of the EC as a rapid response to soaring food prices;
(b) that a dedicated amount be allocated for the implementation of pilot projects related to “green energy” in a selected group of countries and that Mauritius would host such projects;
(c) the establishment of ACP Troika at the highest political level to lobby EU Member States on the content of the EPA. France which holds the presidency of EU, welcomed the proposal to have a back to back meeting of the high level ACP delegation with EC Heads of State before the end of the year to address contentious issues contained in the Interim Agreement; and
(d) the operalization of the Aid for Trade initiative.

In the margins of the Meetings, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade had discussions, inter alia, with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Cuba on the way of improving economic, scientific and technical ties between the two countries.