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Prime Minister's Office>Cabinet Decisions taken on 19 December 2008

Cabinet Decisions taken on 19 December 2008

1. A special meeting of Cabinet will be held on Saturday 20 December 2008 at 0945 hours to discuss the additional stimulus package on economy. The Prime Minister and the Vice-Prime Minister, Minister of Finance and Economic Empowerment would, thereafter, hold a press conference at 1100 hours to disseminate the package.

2. Following his meeting with the President of the Republic of France, Mr N. Sarkozy, in June this year, Dr the Honourable Navinchandra Ramgoolam, GCSK, Prime Minister, had proposed that both Mauritius and France should start talks for the determination of the sovereignty over the island of Tromelin. However, the French President had suggested that pending a decision on the sovereignty issue, both France and Mauritius could agree on a mechanism for the co-management of the Island and its waters. The Prime Minister had agreed to the proposal of the French President subject to the sovereignty issue being determined in not a too distant future.
Cabinet has taken note that, following the meeting of the Prime Minister had with the French President, a first round of discussions was held between France and Mauritius on 17 and 18 December in Port Louis. The Secretary to Cabinet and Head of the Civil Service headed the Mauritian team. These discussions were held in a very cordial atmosphere and focussed on the notion of co-management and the mechanism to be put in place for the co-management of the island. Both sides agreed that co-management implied the joint management of all the resources of the island and their exploitation in an equitable manner. It was agreed that a high level "Comité de co-gestion" would be established by March 2009 for the joint management of the island. The two sides also agreed that, in the first instance, attention will be focussed on the protection of the environment, biodiversity, the management and exploitation of fisheries resources and cooperation in the field of meteorology and archaeological research.

3. Cabinet has taken note of developments in the implementation of the strategic partnership project for the Cargo Handling Corporation Ltd, with a view to transforming Port Louis into a major transshipment hub by attracting increased volume, optimizing port infrastructure and improving the productivity of the Corporation.
Cabinet has also taken note of the recommendations of the International Financial Corporation contained in its Inception Report.

4. Cabinet has taken note of the promulgation of the Public Health (Prohibition on Advertisement, Sponsorship and Restriction on Sale and Consumption in Public Places, of Alcoholic Drinks) Regulations which -
(a) ban the consumption of alcoholic drinks in a public place other than a public beach and business premises licensed for the sale of alcoholic drinks by retail for consumption on such premises;
(b) ban advertisement and sponsorship of an alcoholic product;
(c) restrict the display of alcoholic drinks; and
(d) provide that any alcoholic drink offered for sale, to bear a label indicating that excessive consumption of alcoholic drinks, causes health, social and domestic problems.
The Regulations would be effective as from 1 March 2009.

5. Cabinet has taken note that, following the success of the ‘Centre de Formation Artistique’ at Paillotte and Plaine des Papayes, another such Centre would be opened at Pointe Canon, Mahebourg on 21 January 2009. The objectives of the ‘Centre de Formation Artistique’ are to:
(a) provide short-term training in different art forms;
(b) identify new artistic talents;
(c) provide appropriate ‘encadrement’ to artists; and
(d) build capacity in artistic fields.
More than 1700 persons have been trained at the centres at Paillotte and Plaine des Papayes in various artistic fields, such as pyrography, photography, print-making, sculpture, sound and stage lighting techniques and song writing and dance.
The Centre at Pointe Canon would, initially, provide training in -
(a) Guitar playing;
(b) Tabla playing;
(c) Pyrography;
(d) Ravanne/Djembe;
(e) Sculpture;
(f) Dramatic Arts; and
(g) Modern Dance.

6. Cabinet has taken note of the progress of work on the Slave Route Monument and of activities that would be organized on 1 February 2009 to mark the 174th Anniversary of the Abolition of Slavery in Mauritius. The Slave Route Monument comprises a central piece and arms that tend towards countries from where slaves were brought to Mauritius and situated along the Slave Route in the Indian Ocean. The central piece of the Monument is being sculpted by Mr J.M. Hotentote, a Mauritian Artist, whilst the stones, representing the linkages with Reunion Island and Madagascar, are being sculpted by Mrs Courtis Fuma from Reunion Island and Mr Rabemananjara from Madagascar respectively.
The programme of activities marking the 174th Anniversary of the Abolition of Slavery would comprise, inter alia, -
(i) a Wreath Laying Ceremony at the “Monument des Esclaves”, Pointe Canon, Mahebourg;
(ii) the inauguration of the Slave Route Monument;
(iii) the handing-over of the Certificate of Inscription;
(iv) the launching of a commemorative cover; and
(v) a cultural programme by local and foreign artists.

7. Given that Round Island is internationally known for its seabirds, reptiles and rich exotic fauna and flora, Cabinet has, upon the recommendations of the National Heritage Fund Board, agreed to Round Island being designated as a national heritage.

8. Cabinet has taken note that, with effect from 15 December 2008, a Poison Information Centre has been opened at Victoria Hospital, Candos. In view of the fact that the incidence of poisoning is a public health concern, the Ministry of Health and Quality of Life has decided to open a Poison Information Centre to, inter alia, assist health professionals in the diagnosis, prognosis and treatment of cases of poisoning and to develop and maintain an updated database on products, chemicals, pharmaceuticals and natural toxins, as well as undertake awareness campaigns. The Poison Information Centre will also participate in preparing any Contingency Plan to deal with any major accident involving chemicals and other toxic products.

9. Cabinet has taken note of measures proposed in the National Action Plan on Tobacco Control, which has been prepared in consultation with all stakeholders, to reduce mortality and morbidity due to tobacco use. The Plan aims at preventing the use of tobacco-related products amongst youth and adults, protecting people from the exposure to environmental tobacco smoke and providing smoking cessation clinics amongst smokers.

Cabinet has further taken note that, as from 22 December 2008, a Smoking Cessation Clinic will operate, on a pilot basis, at the Odette Leal Community Health Centre, Beau Bassin, with a view to providing patient smokers the necessary counselling and psychosocial support to quit smoking.

10. Cabinet has agreed to the Energy Policy for the Republic of Mauritius which is based on the Energy Policy Report proposed by the Consultancy firm KANTOR and six experts appointed by the European Commission and UNDP, in the context of the disbursements by the Commission.
The recommendations made by the Consultants address all aspects of energy demand, supply and utilisation for the power and transportation sectors and lay emphasis on energy efficiency and the development of renewable energy. The Report also pertains to energy imports, security of supply, diversification of the energy mix, wider use of renewable energy sources, sectoral energy utilisation, energy pricing, energy efficiency and energy conservation, environment and education.

11. Recognising the need to enhance access to and use of information and communication technology in primary and secondary education, Cabinet has agreed to the Ministry of Education, Culture and Human Resources signing a Memorandum of Understanding with Microsoft Indian Ocean Islands Limited to benefit from its Partners in Learning programme which covers the three under-mentioned key areas necessary to empower students and teachers in transforming education –
(a) Innovative Schools: Provides schools, governments and partners with resources, training, expertise and technology blueprints that help schools better prepare students for life and the world of work in the 21st century.
(b) Innovative Teachers: Provides teachers with tools, forums and resources that encourage the building up of Communities of Practice; supports collaboration while ensuring access to quality contents, and also challenges educators to integrate ICT into teaching and learning in a meaningful way.
(c) Innovative Students: Empowers students to use ICT in their schoolwork and learning.

12. Cabinet has taken note of the key ICT projects and events of national importance which would be organised in 2009 with a view to making ICT a key engine of economic development, with emphasis on youth and entrepreneurs, students, households and the community, old age and vulnerable groups, viz.,
(a) Weekly ICT awareness enhancement programmes;
(b) Re-dynamising international and regional collaboration in ICT;.
(c) Upgrading the ICT infrastructure projects to enhance the quality of telecommunication capacity and services with increased internet bandwidth; and
(d) Implementation of ICT projects to render Government services more accessible.

13. Cabinet has taken note that as from January 2009, the State Informatics Limited proposes to adopt a new corporate identity with a view to e-igniting its brand value and competitively differentiating itself. In the near future, the State Informatics Limited aims at becoming the premier regional ICT business solution provider.
Cabinet has further taken note that the Board of the State Informatics Limited has been reconstituted with Dr Ashveen K. Kissoonah as Chairperson.

14. Cabinet has taken note of developments in the purchase of a tanker vessel for the transportation of petroleum products with a view to stabilizing and minimising freights rates and reducing dependency on foreign operators.

15. Cabinet has taken note that, according to the last statistical bulletin, since the beginning of this year, 833,068 tourists visited Mauritius compared to 803,301 tourists in 2007, i.e, an increase of 3.7%. For the month of November 2008, there have been 75,380 tourists who visited Mauritius. Tourist arrivals from two of the main markets, namely UK and India, have recorded a fall. However, in spite of the current global economic downturn, other markets have performed reasonably well, with growth as follows:-
- France (+3.2%);
- Italy (+25.1%);
- Switzerland (+8.2%);
- People's Republic of China (+20.8%);
- Reunion Island (+6.6%); and
- Belgium (+23.1%).

16. Cabinet has taken note that the Ministry of Health and Quality of Life, in collaboration with the Blood Donors’ Association, has collected 1850 pints of blood for its Mega Blood Donation organised on 18 December 2008 at the Esplanade of Emmanuel Anquetil.

17. In line with the reform in the Education Sector and with a view to setting up a new national evaluation system, Cabinet has agreed to Mauritius participating in the Programme for International Student Assessment exercise which is administered by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. In the light of international trends and best practices, schools have to prepare students to face situations which demand new knowledge and abilities. In the Programme for International Student Assessment Exercise, students of 15 years of age are assessed on the knowledge and skills acquired in the domains of reading, and mathematical and scientific literacy for full participation in society. The findings of the Assessment Exercise are fully publicized internationally and have a strong influence in participating countries as they give an indication of the Education System as measured against an international benchmark.

18. Cabinet has taken note of the recommendation in the report for the updating of the National Environmental Strategies, the Review of the Second National Environmental Action Plan and of the Second Environment Investment Programme and has agreed to the implementation of the strategies policies and projects proposed therein. The reviewed Environment Investment Programme comprises the following six urgent priority projects –
(a) Integrated Air Quality Management;
(b) Mauritius Industrial Pollution Prevention;
(c) Quality and Ecological Assessment of Fresh Water Bodies;
(d) Facilitation of Sustainable Environmental Practices;
(e) Reforming the Environmental Management Framework in Mauritius and Capacity Building of Environmental Agencies; and
(f) Environmental Education Awareness and Community Empowerment.

19. Cabinet has agreed to the implementation of the Investment Project Process Manual, issued in accordance with the Finance and Audit Act, which aims at –
(a) organising the Investment Project Process;
(b) developing a single window system for project approval;
(c) establishing best practices in investment budget expenditure in respect of
investment projects based on Programme Based Budget (PBB) principles;
(d) developing a well defined long-term pipeline of projects; and
(e) ensuring active user participation in the project process leading to a timely completion of projects within the approved budget.

20. Cabinet has taken note that the Ministry of Environment and National Development Unit would distribute two pamphlets: the first on the harmful effects of mercury on health and the environment, measures to be taken to prevent pollution by mercury and on actions to be taken in case of a small mercury spill; and the second on illegal posters meant to sensitise the public on the social and economic impacts of illegal affixing of posters and the provisions of the new regulations.

21. Cabinet has taken note of the 2007 Report on “Statistics in Mauritius: A Gender Approach”. The main highlights of the Report are -
(a) as at 1 July 2007, the percentage of resident women population was 50.5% as compared to 50.6% in July 2006; and Child population represented 28.5% of the population against 29.0% in 2006.
(b) The total fertility rate decreased to 1.6.
(c) The enrolment in primary schools for boys and for girls were 60,641 and 58,669, respectively. At Secondary level, the enrolment rate was higher for girls, i.e., 72% as compared to boys i.e., 65%. Girls performed better in examinations with 72.7% at CPE, 81.2% at SC and 81.8% at HSC levels.
(d) 41.2% of women aged 16 years and above were actively participating in the economy against 77.2% among men of the same age group. The corresponding percentages for 2006 were 42.2% and 77.7%, respectively.
(e) The monthly mean income for women and men was Rs7,480 and Rs11,105, as compared to Rs6,906 against Rs10,660 in 2006, respectively.
(f) Following aggressive sensitization campaigns carried out by the Ministry of Women Rights, Child Development and Family Welfare, the total number of cases of child abuse decreased from 3,891 in 2006 to 3,529.
(g) The total number of new cases of Domestic Violence registered at the Family Support Bureau decreased from 6891 in 2006 to 6517.
Cabinet has further taken note that the Ministry of Women Rights, Child Development and Family Welfare has taken a series of measures to –
(a) maintain the health status of women;
(b) further reduce the gender gap pertaining to economic activities; and
(c) further combat child abuse and domestic violence.

22. Cabinet has taken note that the Mauritius Accreditation Service (MAURITAS) would be upgraded from the status of Affiliate to Associate Member of the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation, a unique global accreditation forum regrouping accreditation bodies of 82 countries. MAURITAS, set up under the Mauritius Accreditation Service Act, provides an internationally recognised conformity assessment infrastructure in order to enhance the competitiveness of goods and services and assist the local regulatory authorities in implementing their respective regulations. This new status would not only confer MAURITAS voting rights on issues relating to laboratory accreditation but also provide enhanced international recognition to its certificates issued.
Cabinet has further taken note that, since February 2008, MAURITAS has granted accreditation certificates to the following four laboratories:-
• Mauritius Turf Club Laboratory
• Assay Office Laboratory
• Intertek (Mauritius) Ltd
• Mauritius Sugar Industry Research Institute (MSIRI)

23. Cabinet has agreed to Mauritius becoming a founding Member of the Collaborative Africa Budget Reforms Initiative, which aims at promoting efficient and effective management of public finances, with a view to fostering economic growth and enhancing service delivery for the improvement of living standards of people living in Africa. The Collaborative Africa Budget Reforms Initiative, launched in May 2008, is a vehicle for developing reforms and building capacity. It has created solid networks with other Pan-African and world-wide institutions, like NEPAD, the African Development Bank, the World Bank and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.

24. Cabinet has taken note that the University of Technology, Mauritius, in collaboration with “Common Ground”, would organise from 5 to 7 January 2009 the Fifth International Conference on Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability. “Common Ground” was established as an educational and academic publisher in 1984 and has now evolved into a producer and manager of content for print and the Internet. It is amongst the world leaders in academic conference organisation with over 20 conferences in diverse fields.
The Conference will enable the whole academic staff of UTM to interact with researchers and academics in the field of sustainable development. The Conference will also help in developing new curriculum/programs at the School of Sustainable Development and Tourism, UTM.
About 200 academics of international repute from Australia, Canada, India, Israël, Malaysia, New Zealand, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand, Tunisia, UK, USA and United Arab Emirates are expected to participate in the Conference.

25. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the mission of the Vice-Prime Minister, Minister of Finance and Economic Empowerment to Europe from 01 to 8 December 2008 with a view to meeting officials of Germany, France and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to explain the Mauritian position as regards the initiative being envisaged by the OECD to crack down on offshore centres and tax havens. At the invitation of the Department for International Development, UK and the World Bank, the Vice-Prime Minister, Minister of Finance and Economic Empowerment also participated from 02 to 03 December 2008 in the Roundtable “Doing Business in Practice: Opportunities and Responses” to share the Mauritian experience on how Doing Business can help create the conditions for successful reform and how Mauritius has in a short lapse of time, improved its ranking to the 24th position in doing business and the highest place in Africa.
In the margins of the mission the Vice-Prime Minister, Minister of Finance and Economic Empowerment met –
(i) Mr D. Nawrath, State Secretary for Tax Matters; and
(ii) Officials of the Ministry of Economy, Industry and Employment and the Office of the French President.

26. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the mission of the Minister of Industry, Science and Research on 11 December 2008 to Johannesburg, South Africa where he participated in the SADC Ministerial Meeting on Science, Technology and Innovation. The Meeting, inter alia, -
(a) launched the Science, Technology and Innovation desk and the SADC Science, Engineering and Technology week;
(b) took note of the Progress Report on Ratification of the SADC Protocol on Science, Technology and Innovation; and
(c) approved the SADC, Women in Science, Engineering and Technology programme and the hosting of the Intellectual Property Rights workshop by South Africa.
In the margin of the Conference, the Ministry of Industry, Science and Research discussed bilateral issues with the Director of the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology.

27. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the mission of the Minister of Information and Communication Technology from 27 to 28 November 2008 in Tunisia where he participated in the Third Edition of the Annual International Forum on “ICT 4 All Forum – Tunis+3”, under the title of “Broadband, industry of content for development”. The Forum discussed the following issues –
(a) bridging the digital divide: the benefits and challenges of broadband;
(b) ultra high speed broadband for business and investment promotion;
(c) regional projects for ICT development; and
(d) broadband and mobile services: Business models, opportunities and best practices.
In the margins of the Forum, the Minister of Information and Communication Technology met Mr El Hadj Gley, the Tunisian Minister for ICT and Dr Hamadoun Touré, Secretary General of the International Telecommunication Union, with whom he discussed matters pertaining to the field of ICT.