1. Cabinet has taken note of the Official Mission of the Prime Minister to the Republic of Seychelles to attend the Swearing-in Ceremony of Mr James Michel as President of the Republic of Seychelles, and of Mr Joseph Belmont as the Vice-President, held on 1 August 2006 at Mahé, following general elections.
On 2 August, the Prime Minister had a tête-à-tête with the President of the Seychelles to discuss issues of mutual interests, such as:
(a) Aid for trade;
(b) Delimitation of Exclusive Economic Zone and Extension of Continental Shelf;
(c) Follow-up on the Seventh Session of Seychelles-Mauritius Joint Commission on bilateral cooperation;
(d) Monitoring of Exclusive Economic Zone and Surveillance for Security of the region in the fight against terrorism;
(e) Economic Cooperation - Need for Agreement on Trade/Economic Cooperation; and
(f) Seafood Hub/Financial Services/ICT.
The Prime Minister also met Mr Wavel John Charles Ramkalawan, the Leader of the Opposition.
2. Cabinet has taken note of the Swearing-in Ceremony of the New Executive Council of Rodrigues being held on 4 August 2006 in Port Mathurin. The Prime Minister has designated the Minister of Local Government to represent him at the Ceremony.
Cabinet has also taken note that the Leader of the Opposition who has also been invited to the function, forms part of the official delegation.
3. Cabinet has taken note of the White Paper on the National Environment Policy (NEP). The objectives of the new environmental policy are, inter alia, to:
(i) ensure good environmental governance across all sectors and sub-sectors of the economy;
(ii) encourage environment industry to make waste become a source of raw material;
(iii) promote the tourism sector whilst ensuring adequate management of the resources that nurture its growth;
(iv) emphasise on the need to come up with a recycled-based society where waste minimisation would play a major role daily; and
(v) optimise the share of renewable sources of energy in our energy mix.
Cabinet has agreed to the circulation of the Paper to the general public, the private sector and non-governmental organisations for their views and comments with a view to making the NEP as reflexive as possible.
4. In the wake of Government's relentless fight against Chikungunya, Cabinet has taken note of the proposed visits to Mauritius of three experts, from 6 to 13 August 2006, namely -
(i) Professor Paul Reiter, Expert on mosquito borne diseases from the Pasteur Institute, Paris;
(ii) Professor Andrew Spielman, Expert on Tropical Public Health from the Harvard School of Public Health; and
(iii) Miss Rebecca Moll, Assistant to Professor Spielman from the Harvard School of Public Health.
Their mission would focus on -
(i) the epidemiology of Chikungunya in Mauritius;
(ii) the mechanism of perpetuating of the disease by the mosquito vector;
(iii) the anti-mosquito measures and the vector control programme currently being implemented, and capacity for modifying these measures; and
(iv) the possible infection among animals in the country and research on whether these animals may contribute to the transmission of Chikungunya.
5. Cabinet has agreed to the setting up of a Language Institute in Mauritius which would provide services to a wide range of users, viz., students and adult learners, teachers, policy makers and decision makers in language education (including curriculum developers), planners, practitioners, as well as, professionals, the business community and members of the public. The main objectives of the Institute are to –
(a) collect and manage information, both qualitative and quantitative, to respond to the needs in languages from various quarters ;
(b) provide professional and specialist language training in areas such as –
(i) Business and Industry;
(ii) Banking and Finance;
(iii) Tourism and Hospitality;
(iv) Law and Legal Proceedings;
(v) Media and Communication;
(c) provide the relevant expertise and services in areas, such as diplomacy, international relations and foreign trade, which are likely to be given a boost with the setting up of the Civil Service College and the Institute of Diplomacy and Foreign Trade;
(d) offer services, such as translation, interpretation and text editing; and
(e) conduct research on the history and development of languages.
6. As announced in the Budget Speech 2006-2007, Cabinet has agreed to a High Powered Committee, chaired by the Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Public Infrastructure, Land Transport & Shipping, examining the setting up of the National Wages Council, based on the recommendations of Prof Lim Chong Yah's Report, with a view to determining wage increases.
7. Cabinet has taken note that the Labour Act would be amended to provide for the minimum age of employment being raised from 15 to 16 years to be in line with the ILO Minimum Age Convention 1973 (No. 138) and the provision of the Education (Amendment) Act 2004, which makes education compulsory up to the age of 16.
Other amendments would also be brought to the Labour Act to render its application more user-friendly and to correct anomalies regarding inter alia, the definition of "worker", rendering more flexible privileges to female workers (maternity leave) and, severance allowance in respect of employees.
8. In line with Government's Commitments to fight the spread of HIV/AIDS, Cabinet has taken note of the preparation of the HIV and AIDS Preventive Measures Bill, which would regulate HIV testing facilities, testing of donated blood, counselling of persons affected by HIV/AIDS and the exchange of syringe and needles as part of the therapy for injecting drug users. The Bill, also, provides for punishment of any person who knowingly places other persons at risk of being infected with HIV. Cabinet has agreed to the Bill being disseminated and circulated to all stakeholders for consultation.
9. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the air services talks held in Antananarivo, Madagascar on 25 and 26 July 2006 between the Aeronautical Authorities of Madagascar and Mauritius. It has been agreed inter alia that -
(a) each Party would have an allocation of 750 seats weekly per direction for IATA Winter Season 2006/2007, which represent an increase of approximately 56% over the current capacity of 480 seats. Sufficient flexibility has been introduced to provide for a sustained level of growth in traffic of up to 35% per year over the next five years;
(b) cargo services would be increased from one to two flights per week during IATA Winter Season 2006/2007; and
(c) the designated airlines of each country would be allowed to inject additional capacity to meet seasonal fluctuations or any unexpected traffic demand.
10. Cabinet has taken note of developments in the setting up of a World Hindi Secretariat (WHS) in Mauritius. The Governing Council would soon proceed with the appointment of a Secretary General and that of an architect for finalising the architectural design of the World Hindi Secretariat Building.
11. Cabinet has taken note of a proposal for the twinning of Cap Malheureux and the island town of Rameshwaram, the birthplace of the President of India, HE Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam. Rameshwaram which lies in the South Eastern limit of India, is one of the major marine food centres in Southern India. Through the twinning of the two localities, cooperation in the fishing sector would be enhanced, particularly in certain areas of common interest, namely the improvement of the quality of life of fishermen, use of technology, security at sea, improvement of catch, chilling of fish, protection of marine resources, etc.
12. With a view to assisting registered bank fishers during the off-season period, i.e., from June to August, when the bank fishing vessels are not fully active, Cabinet has taken note that the Minister of Agro Industry & Fisheries would make the following regulations, under the Fishermen Welfare Fund Act 2000, to provide for the setting up of a Contributory Scheme:
(i) the Licensee’s Contribution to the Fishermen Welfare Fund (General Fund) Regulations 2006; and
(ii) the Contributory Scheme for Bank Fishermen Regulations 2006.
13. Cabinet has taken note of the proposed programme of activities for the commemoration of SADC Day on Thursday 17 August, 2006. The programme comprise inter alia -
(i) the distribution of an Informative Leaflet on SADC to Primary and Secondary Schools;
(ii) a cultural programme at the Esplanade of the Municipal Council of Port Louis with the participation of CLAC Centres;
(iii) Exhibition and Cultural Show at Caudan Waterfront; and
(iv) Programme on SADC by the MBC including a Round Table.
14. Cabinet has taken note of the visits of the following personalities from the People's Republic of China –
(a) the Vice-Governor of the Province of Shanxi in the People's Republic of China from 7 to 9 August 2006 for increased investment of the Tianli Spinning Co. Ltd. in Mauritius; and
(b) the Vice-Minister of Finance from 24 to 28 August 2006 to discuss projects financed by the Chinese Government.