1. Following the recent visit of the Prime Minister to India and discussions held with the Indian Authorities, and in view of the constant increase in world price of petroleum products due to demand pressure compounded by geo-political factors, Cabinet has taken note that the State Trading Corporation would procure all the country’s requirement in petroleum products for the year 2006/2007 directly from Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Ltd, a Government of India-owned refinery, instead of going through suppliers. The above arrangements will allow STC to benefit from very favourable conditions for bulk purchase effected by India.
2. With a view to reducing reliance on land filling for solid waste disposal and at the same time making effective use of such waste, Cabinet has taken note that the Board of Investment has favourably considered project proposals from –
(i) Solid Waste Recycling Co. Ltd. for the setting up of a large scale composting of organic waste, including un-segregated municipal solid waste; and
(ii) Gamma-Civic Ltd for the setting up of a waste to energy plant.
3. Cabinet has taken note of measures taken at the level of the Tourism Authority in order to ensure the quality image of Mauritius as an attractive tourist destination. In this context, minimum standards governing tourism enterprises have been worked out, and regular inspections are carried out to ensure that tourism establishments fulfil the necessary requirements in order to qualify for the issue of a Tourism Enterprise Licence. The Tourism Authority is embarking on a programme to ensure effective and efficient delivery of services and monitoring of the sector.
4. Cabinet has taken note that the Ministry of Environment & National Development Unit would, during the third week of May, 2006, organize an oil spill drill as required under the National Oil Spill Contingency Plan. The main aim of the drill would be to test the ability of the respective authorities to provide timely and effective response to an oil spill at high sea, and to keep the country in a preparedness state with a view to combating any eventual oil spill at high sea. The exercise is planned to take place in the high sea off Black River coast and will involve the participation of the National Coast Guard, the Meteorological Services and other Ministries/Organisations.
5. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the recent participation of the Minister of Local Government in the regional symposium organized by the Commonwealth Local Government Forum on the theme “Local Democracy, Good Governance and Realising the Millenium Development Goals” in Uganda.
Deliberations focused on the attainment of the Millenium Development Goals and on ways and means for strengthening local governance in Africa to enable Local Authorities to deliver more effective and accountable local services to the communities they serve. The outcome of this Symposium would form part of a coordinated effort within the Commonwealth to build capacity at the local level to address pertinent issues, such as:
(i) provision of minimum social services and access to resources to enable local economic development; and
(ii) improving educational standards and assisting in the achievement of universal primary education.
In the margin of the Meeting, the Minister had working sessions with Mr Carl Wright, Secretary General of the Commonwealth Local Government Forum, and Dr Jatin V. Modi, President of All India Institute of Local Self-Government.
6. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the mission of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Trade & Cooperation to Nairobi where he participated in the Fourth Ordinary Session of the African Union Trade Ministers Conference and the SADC Trade Ministers Meeting.
At the Ordinary Session of the African Union Trade Ministers Conference, the following reports of experts were considered, namely –
(a) Trade Liberalization in the context of Africa’s Integration Process (Regional Economic Communities);
(b) WTO Negotiations/EPA Negotiations;
(c) Aid for Trade;
(d) China/Africa Strategic Partnership; and
(e) Trade, Migration and Africa’s Socio-Economic Development.
With regard to WTO Doha Development Agenda Negotiation, the SADC Trade Ministers agreed that a development-oriented outcome of the negotiation must include among others:
(i) elimination/reduction of agricultural export subsidies and trade domestic support;
(ii) improved market access for SADC member states exports on the world market and duty free and quota free market access for SADC LDCs exporters; and
(iii) provision of a mechanism for effectively addressing the problems of erosion of trade preferences.
7. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the recent meetings in which the Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Trade & Co-operation participated, viz.
(i) SADC Consultative Conference with International Cooperating Partners held in Namibia which aimed at achieving consensus on new partnership modalities between SADC and International Cooperating Partners. The Consultative Conference inter alia deliberated on the following:
(a) Trade, Economic Liberalisation and Development;
(b) Infrastructure Support for Regional Integration;
(c) Sustainable Food Security; and
(d) Social and Human Development.
(ii) SADC-INDIA Forum which agreed on the following priority areas of cooperation:-
(a) Agriculture, in particular irrigation and dry land farming, agro-engineering; and seed technology;
(b) Promotion of small and medium scale enterprises and entrepreneurial development, including enhancing trade and investment;
(c) Health, including Drugs and Pharmaceuticals;
(d) Human Resources Development;
(e) Water Resources Management; and
(f) Information, Communications Technology (ICT).
The Minister also had the opportunity to hold formal and informal bilateral talks with SADC Ministers on, inter alia, progress in the implementation of various projects of mutual interests.
8. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the recent mission of the Minister of Industry, Small & Medium Enterprises, Commerce & Cooperatives to India. In the light of discussions the Minister had with the various Indian dignitaries and organizations, avenues of collaboration and assistance have inter alia emerged in the fields, namely –
(i) setting up of a pharmaceutical unit by Rajat Pharmachem in Mauritius which could be used as a hub for exporting or re-exporting pharmaceutical products to Africa;
(ii) the possibilities of expanding the diamond and gem sector in Mauritius in collaboration with Indian entities;
(iii) setting up of a plant by Royal Energy Ltd in Mauritius for the manufacture of Biodiesel;
(iv) Hinduja Group extending assistance in research and sourcing of alternate sources of energy, including Jatropha; and
(v) Infosys providing training in the field of ICT.
9. In line with the Government objective of developing a Mauritian Sign Language for the social integration of the deaf and hearing-impaired individuals, Cabinet has taken note that the Minister of Education & Human Resources has signed an “Avenant” to the “Convention de Partenariat”. for the development of the Mauritian Sign Language with the Ministry of Social Security, National Solidarity & Senior Citizens Welfare & Reform Institutions, the French embassy in Mauritius, and the “Institut National de Jeunes Sourds” based in Paris.
The “Avenant” is, also, in line with the Special Education Needs policy of the Ministry of Education & Human Resources and will extensively help in promoting Mauritian Sign Language within the mainstream school curriculum, developing relevant pedagogical tools and materials, and training the teachers.
10. In line with its policy to consolidate the regional integration process, Cabinet has agreed to Mauritius ratifying the Protocol Establishing the Fund for Cooperation, Compensation and Development of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, set up under Article 150 of the Treaty establishing COMESA. The resources of the Fund shall be used to –
(i) provide grants for research and development and feasibility studies for the promotion of regional integration;
(ii) facilitate the sustained mobilisation of internal and external financial resources for the Member States; and
(iii) promote regional integration through the development of physical infrastructure projects in the Member States;
It is considered that, by establishing the COMESA Fund, Member States would be able to demonstrate their initiative to overcome problems associated with the implementation of trade reforms and not be coerced or rely on the goodwill of the multi-lateral financing institutions and donor organisations.
11. Cabinet has taken note that the SADC Secretariat, with the technical support of UNCTAD, is proposing to hold in Mauritius the following meetings –
(i) Joint SADC-COMESA workshop on services on 30-31 May 2006; and
(ii) SADC Trade Negotiating Forum Meeting on 1-2 June 2006.
The decision to hold a joint SADC/COMESA meeting forms part of the "Roadmap for the SADC Trade in Services" adopted by the SADC Trade Ministers at a special meeting on 23 September 2005 in Cape Town. The purpose of this joint meeting, which would be attended by some 60 foreign delegates, is to exchange experiences and information and to create synergies between SADC and COMESA with a view to orient both organizations towards a collaborative process for the enhancement of Trade in Services.
12. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the Seminar on Facilitation of Maritime Traffic organized recently in Mauritius in collaboration with the International Maritime Organisation. The Seminar, which was attended by both the public and private sectors involved in shipping matters and procedures, aimed inter alia at –
(a) acquainting fully the participants with the provisions of Facilitation of Maritime Traffic Convention and making them aware of the institutional and economic advantages and benefits that could be derived from implementing the Convention;
(b) providing guidelines on follow up measures concerning the practical implementation of the Convention; and
(c) advising on the functions of a National Facilitation Committee which would oversee and monitor the implementation.
After the brainstorming, the participants inter alia recommended the setting up of the National Facilitation Committee which would work towards the elimination of red tapism, paper work and which would remain in tune to the latest developments relating to ship/port interface.
13. In line with Article 4 of ILO Convention 88, Cabinet has taken note of the setting up of the Employment Promotion Advisory Committee, the aim of which would be to carry out an assessment of the employment situation on a regular basis and advise the Ministry of Labour, Industrial Relations & Employment on new strategies and policies required for job creation and employment promotion. The Employment Promotion Advisory Committee would also be invited to advise on, inter alia,
(i) incentives which might be necessary to boost employment;
(ii) training and placement of laid-off workers and occupational
mobility in general; and
(iii) actions envisaged for the reduction of dependence on foreign labour.
14. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the Fourth Meeting of the “Conseil Permanent des Jeux des Îles de l’Ocean Indien” held in Madagascar from 21 to 23 April 2006 in connection with the organization of the seventh Indian Ocean Island Games in 2007. The main objectives of the Meeting were to:
(i) review progress concerning the organization of the 2007 Games;
(ii) finalise the list of sports disciplines for the Games;
(iii) launch the Mascot for the Games; and
(iv) review the Technical Rules and Regulations.
15. Cabinet has taken note of the appointment of Mr M. Sobrun, Acting Director of Labour and Industrial Relations in the Ministry of Labour, Industrial Relations & Employment as Chairperson of the Labour Advisory Board.