CABINET DECISIONS – 22 AUGUST 2008
1. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the mission of Dr the Hon Navinchandra Ramgoolam, GCSK, to South Africa where he participated in the 28th Summit Meeting of Heads of State and Government of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) held on 16 and 17 August 2008.
The Summit was held against the backdrop of the political crisis in Zimbabwe and the launching of the SADC Free Trade Area in the context of the regional economic integration process. In his opening speech, President Mbeki of the Republic of South Africa highlighted the political and economic future of the SADC region, and stated that the SADC international Conference on Poverty and Development held in Mauritius was an extremely important event and that the SADC region should implement the decisions emanating from the Conference.
The Prime Minister intervened on the follow-up action taken following the International Conference on Poverty and Development, namely the elaboration of an implementation Plan, including the setting up of a regional poverty observatory, and of a Regional Action Plan on Poverty Eradication and Sustainable Development. As regards food security, he stressed on the cross-border initiatives in increasing food production by Mauritius together with Madagascar and Mozambique.
The Summit, in a closed session, reviewed the overall political situation in the region, particularly in Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Malawi, South Africa and Zimbabwe. As regards Zimbabwe, the Summit took note of the report presented by President Mbeki in his capacity as Facilitator. After hearing the MDC leader, Mr Tsvangirai, and the Leader of the breakaway MDC faction, Prof Mutambara, the Troika of the Organ was mandated to mediate with them with a view to stressing, in particular to Mr Tsvangirai, that they should adhere to any agreement/consensus reached on the sharing of power with a view to restoring political stability in Zimbabwe.
The Summit, inter alia, -
(a) launched the SADC Free Trade Area on 17 August 2008, which is the milestone in the regional economic integration agenda and would create a larger market, release potential for trade and economic development;
(b) reviewed the progress report of the Ministerial Task Force on Food Security and agreed on a series of measures, including the creation of a Regional Food Reserve Facility, to achieve food security, accelerate regional integration and promote financial sector development, including micro-finance and development of small and medium enterprises; and
(c) reviewed the issue of budgetary allocation to agriculture.
The Seychelles, which had withdrawn from SADC in July 2004, was re-admitted into the Community. President Michel of the Seychelles thanked the Prime Minister for facilitating the re-admission of Seychelles into the Community.
The Prime Minister seized the opportunity to have informal discussions with the Deputy Prime Minister of Lesotho, the Rt Hon Lesao Lehohla, on issues of bilateral interest, particularly the issue of third country fabric on which they had expressed concern. The Deputy Prime Minister agreed to take up the matter with his Prime Minister.
2. Cabinet has taken note of the historical performance of the Mauritian athlete Bruno Julie at the recent Olympic Games in Beijing in the under 54 Kg Boxing Competition. As announced by the Prime Minister, cash prizes for medal winners at the Olympic Games have been increased as follows :
Rs 1 m
Rs 1.5 m
Cabinet has further taken note of the activities organized to welcome the Mauritian delegation on 25 August 2008.
3. Cabinet has taken note that Dr the Hon Navinchandra Ramgoolam, GCSK, Prime Minister, would unveil a life-size statue of late Sir Satcam Boolell, GCSK, GOSK, QC on 11 September 2008 at Place d’Armes, Port Louis in memory of his outstanding contribution in the political and social fields and to the building of the Mauritian society.
The programme of activities would comprise, inter alia, -
(i) laying of wreath by family members;
(ii) song in Creole, English, French and Hindi by students of Sir Satcam Boolell Government School; and
(iii) recitation of a poem on late Sir Satcam Boolell.
4. Cabinet has taken note that following the signing of the Interim Economic Partnership Agreement with the European Community in December 2007, Mauritius, along with the Seychelles and Madagascar, obtained an automatic derogation to source 8,000 tonnes canned tuna and 2,000 tonnes of tuna loins from non-ACP countries or non-EC countries. Pending the coming into force of the Agreement, the EC has agreed to a request of Government to grant a temporary derogation of 3,000 tonnes of preserved tuna and 600 tonnes of tuna loins for a period of one year on a retroactive basis. Cabinet has further taken note that for the period September to December 2008, Princes Tuna Ltd., Thon des Mascareignes and Indigo Co Ltd. have been allocated quota for the export of preserved tuna and the Seafood Hub Ltd for tuna loins.
5. Cabinet has taken note that the Minister of Agro Industry & Fisheries would promulgate the Fisheries and Marine Resources (Fishing of Sea Cucumbers) Regulations under Section 74 of Fisheries and Marine Resources Act to provide for the control of fishing of sea cucumbers in the maritime zones of Mauritius so as to ensure the sustainable exploitation of the resource. No person would be allowed to fish sea cucumbers without the written authorization of the Ministry of Agro Industry & Fisheries. Fishing of sea cucumbers would be closed from 1 January to 31 March in a year to allow the stock to recuperate.
6. Cabinet has agreed to the following measures as recommended by the Ministerial Committee on fertilizers to curb the adverse effect of the hike in the price of fertilizers made after discussing with all stakeholders, -
(i) the State Trading Corporation would explore the possibility to import fertilizers;
(ii) a permanent Technical Committee on Fertilizers would be set up to look, mainly, into the formulation of fertilizers and research programmes;
(iii) the Food Security Fund Committee would look into the possibility of earmarking funds to assist planters as a relief measure;
(iv) the possibility of formulating a Maximum Recommended Retail Price of fertilizers would be considered;
(v) sensitization and awareness campaigns would be organized by AREU and other institutions on judicious use of fertilizers; and
(vi) promoters would be encouraged to come up with “waste to compost” projects and to promote the use of organic fertilizer with a view to replacing the traditional fertilizers in line with the “Maurice Ile Durable”.
7. Cabinet has taken note of the final report on the National Programme on Sustainable Consumption and Production for Mauritius and agreed to its implementation. Analysis of consumption and production trends shows that the environmental impacts from consumption and production activities have grown from over the last two decades and are expected to intensify in the next decade. The Sustainable Consumption and Production Programme which is a holistic approach to minimising the negative environmental impacts of consumption and production in society, encompasses all projects to be implemented within a period of five years.
The Programme framework focuses on five strategic priority areas, namely -
(i) Resources Use Efficiency with a Focus on Energy, Water and Sustainable Buildings and Construction;
(ii) Education and Communication for Sustainable Lifestyles;
(iii) Integrated Solid Waste Management and Recycling;
(iv) Sustainable Public Service Practices; and
(v) Increase Market Supply and Demand for Sustainable Products.
The implementation of the Programme would be instrumental in promoting synergies amongst the key development sectors as it is directly linked with many other development priorities, such as economic growth, job creation, environmental protection, water and energy security, poverty alleviation, health and education.
8. Cabinet has taken note that, in line with our National Environmental Policy and the National Environmental Strategies, the Environment Protection (Industrial Waste Audit) Regulations would be promulgated with a view to promoting a clean and green environment and mitigating the associated adverse health and environmental impacts from industrial wastes. An Industrial Waste Audit is an account of the waste generated from an industrial activity and includes the keeping of records of the origin, composition, quantity and disposal of such wastes. The main potential benefits resulting from the audit are –
(a) reduced raw material consumption and waste generation;
(b) reduced waste treatment cost; and
(c) enhanced process efficiency resulting in improved company profit.
The regulations aim at stimulating the industries to adopt a proactive attitude with regard to pollution control and to develop a culture of industrial environmental compliance.
9. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of bilateral air services talks held with the Aeronautical Authorities of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka held on 7 and 8 August 2008 in Mauritius and which resulted in the conclusion of a Memorandum of Understanding incorporating, inter alia, -
(i) the principle of multiple designation for each Contracting Party;
(ii) the designated airline(s) of each Contracting Party being entitled to operate three frequencies in each direction per week on the specified routes using any aircraft type not exceeding the capacity of a B747- 400 aircraft;
(iii) the designated airline(s) of each Contracting Party having the right to exercise fifth freedom traffic rights on two intermediate and two beyond points, to be mutually agreed between the Aeronautical Authorities of both Contracting Parties; and
(iv) the operations of all cargo services being unlimited for both Contracting Parties for third, fourth and fifth freedom rights on the designated route.
10. Cabinet has taken note that according to the last statistical bulletin, 81,169 tourists visited Mauritius in the month of July 2008, as compared to 77,225 for the corresponding period of last year, i.e., an increase of 5.1%.
The leading markets have registered growth as follows –
France (+4%), Sweden (+51.8%), Spain (+31.8%), CIS (+29.1%), Belgium (+10.2%); People’s Republic of China (+36.0%), India (+10.0%), Reunion Island (+8.3%) and South Africa (+2.9%).
Total tourist arrivals for the period January to July 2008 reached 536,927 as compared to 509,338 for the same period of last year i.e. an increase of 5.4%.
11. Cabinet has taken note that the Ministry of Women’s Rights, Child Development, Family Welfare & Consumer Protection launched evening training courses in Home Economics for working men and women on 21 August 2008. The training courses, which have been designed with the assistance of the IVTB, will be run on a weekly basis. The first session of courses, which is being held at the National Women Development Centre, Phoenix, comprises –
(a) “Healthy Eating” (20 weeks);
(b) “Pastry & Dessert” (16 weeks); and
(c) “Floral arrangement” (12 weeks).
In the near future, such courses would be conducted across the Island and would also comprise modules
such as -
(a) Basic Course in “Home Economics”;
(b) Food Preservation;
(c) Home Decoration;
(d) Curtain Making; and
(e) Obesity Management.
12. Cabinet has taken note that, with a view to reinforcing the “breastfeeding culture,” the National Policy on Infant Feeding Practices and the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding have been amended to reflect the measures contained in the Policy on Infant Feeding Practices adopted by the World Health Organisation.
The main amendments proposed are, inter alia:-
(a) exclusive breastfeeding up to 6 months, as compared to 4-6 months in the present policy;
(b) no distribution of free and low cost samples of infant formula milk to health workers and health institutions; and
(c) access not to be allowed to representatives of infant formula companies to health institutions.
With a view to implementing the National Policy on Infant Feeding Practices, a number of other initiatives had been devised, namely the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI), breastfeeding and the health of babies and mothers. In addition to the four Regional Hospitals, it is now proposed to extend the BFHI concept to Flacq Hospital.
13. Following the success of the ‘Centre de Formation Artistique’ at Paillotte where more than 1500 persons, mostly from the region of Plaines Wilhems and its vicinity, have been trained over the last two years in various artistic fields such as, pyrography, photography, print making, sculpture, sound and stage lighting techniques and song writing, Cabinet has taken note that a second similar Centre would be opened at Plaine des Papayes on 30 August 2008, and will provide training in –
(a) Guitar playing;
(b) Tabla playing;
(c) Violin (Indian & Western);
(e) Photography; and
(f) Dramatic Arts.
14. Cabinet has taken note that the Ministry of Industry, Small & Medium Enterprises, Commerce & Cooperatives, in collaboration with the Small Enterprises and Handicraft Development Authority, would hold the SME Trade & Technology Fair at the Swami Vivekananda International Convention Centre from 27 to 31 August 2008.
The objectives of the Fair are to –
(i) promote the marketing of products manufactured by SMEs and to increase their visibility;
(ii) showcase to the public the products offered by SMEs; and
(iii) enable SMEs to take cognizance of latest technologies and equipment available for upgrading their products.
In the margins of the Fair, a conference on the theme “Empowering SMEs to Export” would also be held.
15. Cabinet has taken note of a proposal from the Ethekwini Municipality of South Africa for the establishment of a twinning relation between the City of Durban and the towns of Beau Bassin/Rose Hill.
The proposal would benefit both towns in the following areas of cooperation:
(i) Arts and Culture;
(ii) Investment and Trade Relations;
(iii) Youth Empowerment and Sports Development;
(iv) Capacity Building;
(v) Education and Technology Exchanges; and
16. Cabinet has taken note that the Ministry of Finance & Economic Development, in collaboration with the Commonwealth Secretariat and the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development, would on 2 and 3 September 2008 organize a Regional Stakeholder Meeting on the theme “Climate Change and Trade-Key Issues for Developing Countries”. In view of the impact of climate change on trade, the Meeting will bring together trade, finance and climate change negotiators and policy makers, experts as well as representatives of the private sector and civil society, to explore opportunities and challenges relating to trade and climate change, with focus on the needs of smaller developing countries, and discuss cross-cutting issues involving sectors like energy, agriculture, fisheries and tourism.
17. Cabinet has taken note of the status of the National Federation of Young Farmers Club and of its limited capacity to meet the increasing demands of young farmers and emerging agri-business operators. Cabinet has further taken note that the Agricultural Research and Extension Unit has taken a number of initiatives to encourage young people to engage in agricultural activities, viz. –
(i) Agricultural Youth Clubs for the young aged between 12 and 18 years; and
(ii) Agro Entrepreneur Clubs for those aged 18 and above. Six such clubs are operational since 2007 and are absorbing members of the Young Farmers Clubs as their operations are more attractive.
Cabinet has, subsequently, agreed to the take-over of the activities of the National Federation of Young Farmers Club by the Agro Entrepreneur Clubs operating under the aegis of the Agricultural Research and Extension Unit.
18. Cabinet has taken note of developments in the Waste to Energy project by Gamma Energy Ltd.
19. Cabinet has agreed to the Assay Office joining the International Association of Assay Offices which aims at maintaining a high level of consumer protection and promoting fair trade in precious metal articles.
The benefits derived therefrom will be, inter alia,–
(i) removal of trade barriers for enhanced export capacity as membership to the organisation will allow movement of jewelleries among States;
(ii) increasing the panoply of services offered by the Assay Office;
(iii) technical upliftment provided by up-to-date information disseminated by the Assay Office following seminars and meetings attended;
(iv) exchange of technical information/experience between Assay Offices; and
(v) close collaboration of Assay Offices in matters relating to testing methods, equipment, technology, training and marking.
20. In its endeavour to adopt a multi-dimensional approach in addressing domestic violence as embodied in our National Action Plan to Combat Domestic Violence, Cabinet has taken note that the Ministry of Women’s Rights, Child Development, Family Welfare & Consumer Protection enlisted the services of Mr John Douglas McConnel, a Stress Management Trainer from the United Kingdom, for a Training of Trainers Programme on “Anger Management and Counselling Techniques”.
The training programme, which was held from 11 to 14 August 2008, aimed at identifying the different forms and manifestations of anger and its effects on our well-being, the sources of anger within different levels of our consciousness and at providing the trainees with a range of practical tools to enable self-transformation with a view to creating a more peaceful existence.
21. Cabinet has taken note that the nomination of Mrs Kamla Devi Varmah, Chairperson of the National Children’s Council, would be submitted as candidate for membership of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child which examines progress made by State Parties in achieving the realization of the obligations undertaken in the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
22. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the mission of the Minister of Agro Industry & Fisheries from 2 to 3 August 2008 to Sri Lanka where he attended the 15th South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation Summit to which Mauritius has been granted Observer Status. The theme of the Summit was “Growth through Partnership”.
Discussion centred, inter alia, on the following issues –
(i) regional cooperation to accelerate economic growth, social progress and cultural development, promote the welfare of people and improve quality of life;
(ii) development and conservation of conventional sources of energy and building up of renewable alternative energy sources;
(iii) climate change;
(iv) management of water resources; and
(v) poverty alleviation.
23. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the mission of the Minister of Women’s Rights, Child Development, Family Welfare & Consumer Protection to Rodrigues from 1 to 3 August 2008, where she had working sessions with, inter alia,-
(a) the Chief Commissioner and discussed, among other things, the setting up of a Women Entrepreneur Centre; and
(b) the Commissioner for Social Security, Women’s Affairs, Child Development, Family Welfare and Alleviation of Poverty, with whom she also raised the review of the National Women’s Council Act.
The Minister of Women’s Rights, Child Development, Family Welfare & Consumer Protection also –
(a) handed over an amount of Rs 2000 to each of the 110 women’s associations affiliated to the Rodrigues Regional Committee;
(b) visited Exhibitions organised by Women Entrepreneurs Associations at Port Mathurin and Malabar; and
(c) launched a sensitization campaign on the rights and responsibilities of consumers with a view to assessing the extent of problems faced by Rodriguans.
24. Following the promulgation of the Human Tissue (Removal, Preservation and Transplant) Act, Cabinet has taken note of the constitution of the Organ and Tissue Transplant Board with Dr N. Gopee as Chairperson.
25. Cabinet has taken note that following the resignation of Mr Bismajaye Jasodanand, Dr Mrs Sheila Bunwaree, Associate Professor at the University of Mauritius, has been appointed as representative of Civil Society on the Law Reform Commission.