CABINET DECISIONS – 31 OCTOBER 2008
1. Cabinet has taken note of a stimulus package aimed at offsetting the likely negative shocks from the global recession and at supporting continued growth of our economy. The main thrusts of the package reflect the analysis of what is happening, consultations with local stakeholders and discussions at the recent IMF-World Bank meetings on a global response.
Based on this year’s growth performance and the continued positive outcomes of the reforms, Mauritius has a good basis on which to build the continuous growth and to avoid a recession. To nurture resilience and to maintain a high growth path, two High Level Committees have been set up as follows:
(a) A Ministerial Committee on Nurturing Resilience, chaired by the Prime Minister, to address policy issues to enhance the resilience of our economy and coordinate actions to remove bottlenecks and constraints.
(b) A Ministerial Committee on Human Capacity, Solidarity and Physical Infrastructure, chaired by the Vice-Prime Minister, Minister of Finance and Economic Empowerment, to address issues relating to training, empowerment and infrastructure with a view to accelerating the implementation of infrastructural projects that are crucial to investment, production and employment creation.
Each Ministerial Committee will be supported by a Technical Committee, viz., the Technical Committee on Nurturing Resilience chaired by the Secretary to Cabinet and Head of the Civil Service and the Technical Committee on Human Capacity, Solidarity and Physical Infrastructure chaired by the Financial Secretary.
2. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the recent mission of Dr the Hon Navinchandra Ramgoolam, GCSK, Prime Minister to Singapore, France and Canada.
The Prime Minister was invited by the Government of Singapore on an official visit on 08 and 09 October 2008. The Prime Minister had a working session with Mr Lee Hsien Loong, Prime Minister of Singapore, during which they exchanged views on a number of issues, viz., the international financial situation, the judicial system, global warming and its likely impact on small island states, the development of the Tourism Sector, the growing influence of China and India in Africa, and the use of Mauritius as a gateway to Sub-Saharan Africa. The Prime Minister also spoke of bilateral assistance in the fields of traffic planning and management, water management and the Land-Based Oceanic Industry.
The Prime Minister paid a courtesy call on the President of Singapore with whom he raised a number of issues, including problems associated with a multicultural society.
During the official visit, a Memorandum of Understanding providing for technical assistance, inter alia, in infrastructure planning and development, including the Harbour Bridge and the Ring Road, development of an Urban and Knowledge City at Highlands; renewable energy and sustainable development (Maurice Ile Durable); transport planning and removal of congestion, was signed.
The Prime Minister, who was invited as the Guest of Honour, participated in the mini Pravasi Bharatiya Divas held in Singapore from 10 to 11 October 2008. As Chief Guest Speaker on a session on Tourism and Hospitality, the Prime Minister, inter alia, delved on the importance of the tourism industry for island states, described the evolution of the tourism industry in Mauritius and the intention of the Government to position Mauritius as a tourism hub in the region.
Impressed by the decision to make Mauritius a model country for sustainable development, HE Professor Olabiyi Yaï, Chairman of the UNESCO Board, had invited the Prime Minister to address the plenary of the 180th Session of the Executive Board on the subject Maurice Ile Durable. In his address, the Prime Minister -
(a) expressed satisfaction and gratitude to UNESCO for the inscription of the Aapravasi Ghat and Le Morne Cultural Landscape on the World Heritage list;
(b) stressed the link between education and sustainable development and recalled the massive investment of the Government of Mauritius in education and the review of school curriculum at all levels to ensure that they meet development needs;
(c) explained the relevance of the Maurice Ile Durable which also aims to serve as a pilot project for Small Island Developing States and reduce dependence on fossil fuel;
(d) evoked the proposal to organize a World Ecological Forum in Mauritius in 2011 along the lines of the World Economic Forum in Davos; and
(e) underscored the cultural wealth and diversity of Mauritius and referred to the pivotal role played by Mauritius in the slave route and the setting up of a Truth and Justice Commission to bring to light the history of slavery and its implications in our society.
The Prime Minister and the Director-General of UNESCO signed an Aide-Memoire aiming at strengthening cooperation between UNESCO and Mauritius and at fostering an inter-sectoral approach.
The Prime Minister also attended the Twelfth Francophone Summit of Heads of State and Government held in Quebec from 17 to 19 October 2008.
The Prime Minister presided over a Round Table on Environment which was attended by representatives of 14 countries, including the Prime Minster of Canada, the President of the Republic of Lebanon, and the President of the Union of the Comoros. In his introductory remarks, the Prime Minister underlined the following:
(a) the impact of climatic changes on the environment and the growing need to pursue sustainable development;
(b) the challenges facing Small Island Developing States, like Mauritius; and
(c) the aims and objectives of the Maurice Ile Durable project.
The Prime Minister had a meeting with Mr Jean Charest, Prime Minister of Quebec on ways and means of enhancing cooperation between Mauritius and Quebec. He also had meetings with the Vice-Prime Minister of Quebec, Mrs Nathalie Normandeau, the Minister of Immigration et Communautés Culturelles, Mrs Yolande James, and the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Local Government of the Federal Government of Canada, Mr Lawrence Cannon.
3. In the context of the Slave Route Project and the construction of a monument at Le Morne, Cabinet has taken note that Le Morne Heritage Trust Fund has invited Mrs Dolaine Fuma Courtis and Mr Rabemananjara, artists from Reunion Island and Madagascar respectively, to assist in the realization of the monument. Mrs Courtis and Mr Rabemananjara have both participated in the putting up of a similar monument in Reunion Island and Madagascar.
4. In line with Government’s policy to make education accessible to all, Cabinet has agreed to the allocation of an additional plot of State land at Coteau Raffin to the Seventh-Day Adventist Diocese of Mauritius for the construction of a pre-primary school.
5. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the visits of the Minister of Local Government, Rodrigues and Outer Islands to Rodrigues on 09 and 12 October 2008.
During his visit on 9 October, the Minister of Local Government, Rodrigues and Outer Islands discussed the following issues with the Chief Commissioner –
(a) amendments to the Rodrigues Regional Assembly Act;
(b) construction of a new runway at Sir Gaëtan Duval Airport for A319 flight operations;
(c) construction of a new quay of about 170m long;
(d) construction of a dam at Rivière Pistache;
(e) voluntary relinquishment of the Fishermen Registration Card;
(f) relocation of the market at Port Mathurin;
(g) production of energy from wind farms; and
(h) setting up of a slaughter house.
An Inter-Ministerial Committee has been set up to monitor the implementation of the above-mentioned projects.
On 12 October 2008, the Minister of Local Government, Rodrigues and Outer Islands attended the official ceremony marking the sixth anniversary of the setting up of the Rodrigues Regional Assembly.
6. Cabinet has taken note of the eligibility criteria for the award of scholarships reserved to Higher School Certificate students in Rodrigues, as proposed by the Rodrigues Regional Assembly, i.e., -
(a) students must be registered for HSC Examinations at a Rodrigues-based centre;
(b) students must have studied for at least three years, in aggregate, in a primary school in Rodrigues; and
(c) students must have, except for proven medical reasons, studied from Form IV to Form VI in Rodrigues.
The proposed criteria would be applicable to the two State Funded Scholarships reserved for Rodrigues under the Additional Laureate Scheme, scholarships for undergraduate studies at the University of Mauritius under the President’s Award Scheme and in science-related subjects offered by Government, as well as scholarships offered by friendly donor countries/organizations as a result of bilateral cooperation agreements.
7. Cabinet has taken note of the status of the on-going infrastructural works at Marie Jeannie, Rose Belle where the inhabitants of Mare Chicose would be relocated. Works are expected to be completed by the end of November 2008.
8. Cabinet has taken note of the election of Mauritius to the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), one of the principal organs of the United Nations. The Council plays an important role in monitoring and advancing the implementation of the United Nations development and social agenda. Mauritius obtained 178 out of the 184 votes which were cast. The election of Mauritius confirms its strong credentials among member states of the UN.
9. Cabinet has taken note that, following intense lobby by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade, the short-stay visa waiver agreement between the EU and Mauritius has been successfully concluded. The implementation of the Agreement would allow Mauritians to travel to European countries forming part of the Schengen area, for a maximum period of three months during a 6-month period without a visa. However, the Agreement would not apply to people travelling for the purpose of carrying out a paid activity in Europe.
10. Cabinet has taken note of developments in the construction of the Terre Rouge-Verdun Link Road. The project, which is a 16-kilometre long dual carriageway would provide a bypass to the capital and thus address the problem of traffic congestion in the North-South corridor.
11. Cabinet has taken note of developments in the construction of additional storage facilities for petroleum products and LPG by a consortium comprising major players in the field.
12. Cabinet has taken note that the Ministry of Women’s Rights, Child Development and Family Welfare organized, on 27 October 2008, a one-day workshop on the impact of domestic violence on sexual and reproductive health of women and the principles of drafting affidavits in support of cases of domestic violence. The main objective of the Workshop was to equip staff of institutions dealing with victims of domestic violence with appropriate skills in the following fields -
(a) Domestic violence and sexual and reproductive health;
(b) Legislation on domestic violence;
(c) Principles of drafting affidavits in support of cases of domestic violence;
(d) Needs and rights of women, survivors of violence; and
(e) Counselling techniques when dealing with victims of domestic violence.
13. Cabinet has taken note that the National Art Gallery would organize the Third Triennial of Contemporary Art Mauritius from 20 to 30 November 2008 on the theme “Island on the move …….”. The Triennial aims at highlighting the various facets of contemporary art while providing a rich platform for outstanding artworks, viz., sculptures, paintings, prints, photographs and mixed media, to be displayed at various venues throughout Mauritius. Seminars, conferences and talks, associated with visual arts and targeting artists, as well as the population at large, would also be organised. The Triennial would allow local artists to broaden their outlook and share common experience with artists from different parts of the world, thus fostering cultural exchange and stimulating artistic creativity. Artists from around the world have been invited to participate in the Triennial.
14. Cabinet has taken note of measures taken for the surveillance of Avian Influenza in Mauritius. Besides the National Committee on Surveillance of Avian Influenza, which meets on a fortnightly basis, two other Committees, namely, the Crisis Management Committee and the Technical Committee, have been constituted by the Division of Veterinary Services of the Ministry of Agro Industry, Food Production and Security to counter any outbreak by curtaining the disease through early diagnosis and stamping of infected birds. Other preventive measures which are in place include strict vigilance at points of entries, disease surveillance at the level of poultry farms, wild life estuary, industrial and commercial farms, and selective vaccination of poultry in risk zones.
15. Cabinet has taken note of developments in the appointment, under a management contract, of a Private Sector Operator for the water and sanitation sectors with a view to improving the operational performance of the Central Water Authority and the Wastewater Management Authority. In this context, the services of Professor Olsen, International Consultant, have been enlisted to implement the water sector reforms.
16. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the mission of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade on 22 October 2008 to Uganda, where he participated in the First Tripartite Summit of Heads of State and Government of the East African Community (EAC), the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC). The objective of the Tripartite Summit was to forge closer interaction among the three Regional Economic Communities, particularly in the area of trade and infrastructural development and provided the necessary platform to the three blocs to coordinate and synchronise their positions on various trade and economic policies at regional, continental and international levels with a view to facilitating the smooth integration process charted out by the Abuja Treaty and the Constitutive Act of the African Union.
The main issues addressed at the Tripartite Summit were:
(a) Trade and Economic Integration;
(b) Infrastructural Development; and
(c) Institutional Framework for the tripartite programme.
With a view to moving towards a single market, the Tripartite Summit agreed to-
(a) the establishment of an enlarged Free Trade Area encompassing member states of the COMESA-SADC and EAC with the ultimate goal of achieving a single customs union; and
(b) the three blocs immediately starting work towards a merger into a single bloc with the objective of fast-tracking the attainment of the African Economic Community.
The Summit noted the importance of scaling up the implementation of regional infrastructure development, central for promoting intra-regional trade, and strengthening manufacturing capacity and economic integration, particularly in the open sky policy, ICT broadband network, and regional Energy Priority Investment Plans.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade proposes to hold broad-based consultations with all stakeholders on the possible implications to the Kampala Tripartite Summit on our economy.
In the margins of the Summit, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade met the Executive Secretary of SADC and the Secretary General of COMESA with a view to developing outreach programmes cutting across the various regional integration programmes and touching a wide spectrum of stakeholders.
17. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the mission of the Minister of Local Government, Rodrigues and Outer Islands from 15 to 16 October 2008 to Canada where, in his capacity as Vice-Chairperson of the Commonwealth Local Government Forum, he attended the 28th General Assembly of the Association Internationale Des Maires Francophones.
The Assembly discussed, inter alia, Good Governance, and Entrepreneurial Vision and Economic Development.
In the margins of the Conference, the Minister of Local Government, Rodrigues and Outer Islands, along with the Secretary General of the Commonwealth Local Government Forum, Mr Carl Wright, met the President of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and discussed the participation of the Federation at the Executive Board of the Forum and the preparation of the Bahamas Annual Conference next year.
The Lord Mayor of the Municipality of Port Louis and the Mayor of the Municipal Council of Beau Bassin - Rose Hill also participated in the Assembly.
18. Cabinet has taken note of the reconstitution of –
(a) the Deregistration of Safety and Health Officers Board with Mr Trilok Kumar Proag, Barrister, as Chairperson; and
(b) the Boiler and Machinery Inspectors Board with Mr Llyod Richard Coombes as Chairperson.