1.In line with the provisions of International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Cabinet has agreed to the introduction into the National Assembly of The Imprisonment for Civil Debt (Abolition) Bill which aims at removing from our statute book the provisions of the law which enable our courts to order a defendant in a civil case to be imprisoned so as to enforce a judgment. The Bill, accordingly, amends the Courts (Civil Procedure) Act and the District and Intermediate Courts (Civil Jurisdiction) Act for that purpose.
2. With a view to making a judicious use of solid waste and reducing reliance on land filling for a healthy environment, Cabinet has taken note of developments for the setting up of the project by Solid Waste Recycling Co. Ltd. for composting organic waste in a large scale and of a waste to energy project by Gamma Civic Ltd. It is expected that Solid Waste Recycling Co. Ltd. would be operational in July 2007 and the Gamma-Civic waste to energy project come on stream in the beginning of 2009.
3. Cabinet has taken note of the recommendations contained in the Action Plan for the Suicide Prevention Unit operating under the aegis of the Ministry of Social Security, National Solidarity and Senior Citizens Welfare & Reform Institutions. The overall plan aims at –
(a) reducing the rate of suicide in Mauritius;
(b) reducing the occurrence of other self-harmful acts;
(c) reducing the suffering associated with suicidal behaviour and traumatic experience of the loved ones; and
(d) providing opportunities and the right environment to enhance resilience, respect, non-violent conflict resolution and inter-connectedness for individuals, families and communities.
The plan proposes inter alia -
(i) the monitoring of awareness campaigns through talks, seminars and conferences, posters, booklets and pamphlets;
(ii) training to different stakeholders to identify people with suicidal tendencies with a view to providing them the required treatment and advice;
(iii) limiting access to dangerous products;
(iv) the provision of support services to assist families and close relatives of suicide victims and survivors of suicide attempt; and
(v) the creation of a web site and a hot line.
Cabinet has also taken note of activities to be organized in the context of the World Suicide Prevention Day to be held on 10 September 2006 by the Ministry of Social Security, National Solidarity and Senior Citizens Welfare & Reform Institutions.
4. In line with Government’s objective to further diversify the tourism portfolio, and offer a variety of places of attraction with a ‘cachet d’antan’, Cabinet has taken note that a Historical Village would be set up in Vieux Grand Port. The project would involve the building up of a Historic Naval Dockyard and the recreation of Historic Villages of our first settlers – Arabs, Portuguese, Dutch, French and English. These villages would be a replica of early nineteenth century architecture in Mauritius and would inter alia include a sailing school, a restaurant, a costume museum, a diving club and souvenir boutiques. The promoter also intends to organize diving trips in view of the historical wrecks found in that region. The Project would entail an investment of about Rs 115 m followed by Rs 25 m each year over a period of 10 years and create direct employment for about 125 persons.
5. Cabinet has taken note of developments in the setting up of the World Hindi Secretariat in Mauritius. Cabinet has further taken note of arrangements made for the recruitment of the staff of the Secretariat to make it operational as soon as possible.
6. Cabinet has taken note that tourist arrivals for the month of August 2006, has increased by 5.9% as compared to the corresponding period last year. Statistics confirm that diversification strategies initiated by the Ministry of Tourism, Leisure & External Communications into new and emerging markets are reaping fruits. Tourist arrivals from the following countries have recorded a growth, viz - Italy (+77.2%), CIS (+34.7%), India (+27.3%) and Australia (+24.8%).
The trends in other markets are as follows:
South Africa (+21.7%), United Kingdom (+7.7%), United Arab Emirates (+67.7%), Malaysia (+45.6%), Malagasy Republic (+3.4%), Seychelles (+35.8%), Kenya (+15.8%) and Singapore (+5.8%).
However, the French market has recorded a decrease of an average of 19.9% over the past eight months as compared to the corresponding period of last year. This is attributed to the fact that about one third of tourist arrivals from France either transit through Réunion or combine their visit to Mauritius with Réunion Island which is still suffering from the consequences of the outbreak of Chikungunya.
7. Cabinet has taken note that the Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) between Mauritius and India had been finalized and would be signed in October 2006 during the visit of Hon Kamal Nath, Minister of Commerce and Industry of the Republic of India.
The PTA provides inter alia for the Indian authorities to grant the following concessions
- Duty free access on about 30 products, including pasta, biscuits, handbags, wood marquetry, napkins, sanitary towels, paper articles, synthetic,
semi- precious stones, soap and metals; and
- Duty concessions on about 35 products, including smoked fish, articles of leather, aluminium door and window frames, spectacles, frames, sunglasses, thermometers, electronic clocks, brushes and fresh cut flowers.
Mauritius, on the other hand, would grant -
- Duty concessions on wall cabinets, illuminating name plates and food commodities, such as sugar confectionary and chocolates; paints, shopping bags, tableware and kitchenware of plastics, household and cooking articles, cards, books and printing materials; and
- Duty free access on a panoply of products including food commodities, such as peas, coconuts, maize, rice, salt, table cloth; eraser, cloth hangers, infant feeding bottles, syringes, blankets, table linen, curtains, mosquito nets, and worked granite.
8. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the Fourth Session of the Joint Working Group between Mauritius and Pakistan. Discussions centered around bilateral trade and economic relations through a comprehensive partnership agreement that would cover trade in goods, trade in services, investment, economic and technical cooperation. It is expected that a Preferential Trade Agreement between the two countries would be signed in November 2006 in Islamabad.
9. In line with the provisions of the Memorandum of Understanding signed in June 2002 between the Senior Citizens Council of Mauritius and Respect Age International, India, Cabinet has taken note of the visit of a delegation comprising 21 members of Respect Age International from 10 September to 17 September 2006. Respect Age International is an NGO which groups Senior Citizens Associations in India and works for the welfare of the elderly. One of the main objectives of the exchange programme is to provide an opportunity to Senior Citizens of both countries to interact and exchange views on elderly issues of mutual interest.
10. In line with the provisions of the Business Facilitation (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, which requires that the local authorities issue Building and Land Use permits within a defined time limit, Cabinet has taken note of the proclamation of sections 14, 15 and 75(a) of the Planning and Development Act which would allow the issue of Planning Policy Guidance to Urban Authorities. The Planning Policy Guidance provides the framework to applicants of Building and Land Use permits to facilitate self-adherence to guidelines and post control development.
Cabinet has also taken note of arrangements being made to amend the Design Guidance on “Small Industrial Workshops and Home Working” component of the Planning Policy Guidelines to enable the use of residential units or part thereof for the conduct of small scale industrial and/or commercial activities, in respect of which the need for a Building and Land Use permits would be exempted provided that the small scale activity does not create adverse external nuisance by way of noise, dust, fumes, smell, vibration, dangerous traffic conditions and materials are stored safely on site.
11. Cabinet has taken note of the visit of Mrs Meira Kumar, Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment of the Republic of India, who would be the Chief Guest on the occasion of the United Nations International Day of the Elderly which would be commemorated on
1 October 2006.
12. Cabinet has taken note that a biodegradable plastic bag has been made out of bagasse, for the first time, in the MSIRI Laboratories without having resort to foreign expertise. This is a landmark in Research and Development efforts of the country to convert biomass into value-added products. The plastic bag is still on a laboratory scale and has to be validated for commercial purposes.
13. In line with the commitment taken by Government for the preservation of the native fauna and flora, as well as the vulnerable ecosystem, Cabinet has taken note that the Government of Mauritius and the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation (MWF) would sign a Memorandum of Understanding to provide a framework for collaboration in the achievement of conservation objectives. The partnership has been drawn up to coordinate and integrate the activities of Government and non-Governmental organizations with a view to achieving conservation objectives in an atmosphere of cordial international cooperation. The agreement provides that all cultivated plants and captive population of animals would be managed in line with sound genetic, horticultural and veterinary standards.
MWF, in close partnership with Government, has saved endangered species and their ecosystems, including native fauna and flora, and become world renowned for the recovery of animal species that were on the verge of extinction, e.g., Mauritius Kestrel, Pink Pigeon, Echo Parakeet, Rodrigues Warbler, Rodrigues Fody and Rodrigues Fruit Bat. Furthermore, some native birds are presently on their way to recovery, e.g., the Mauritius Fody and Olive White-eye.
14. Cabinet has taken note that the Prime Minister would leave early next week to attend the following international events:-
(a) the 14th Summit of the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries in Havana, Cuba on 15 and 16 September;
(b) the 61st Session of the United Nations General Assembly from 19 to 22 September. He would address the General Assembly on 22 September.
(c) the Second Annual Meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative in New York held concurrently with the UN General Assembly Meeting, to which the Prime Minister has been invited by former President Clinton for a second time; and
(d) the 11th Francophone Summit in Bucharest, Romania on 28 and 29 September.
15. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the Regional Ministerial Conference on Leadership Capacity Building for Decentralised Governance and Poverty Reduction. The theme of the Conference was “Strengthening Competencies for Participatory Planning and Budgeting for Effective Local Level Delivery of Services”.
The overall objective of the Conference was to provide an opportunity to participants to review and share experiences for a better participation in the decision-making process for an effective service delivery and poverty reduction to achieve the objectives of the Millenium Development Goals.
To address the issues of unemployment and poverty, the Minister of Local Government who participated in the Conference, emphasised on the various measures taken by Government, namely the setting up of the Empowerment Fund and “Putting People First” at the centre of development.
16. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the recent mission of the Minister of Industry, Small & Medium Enterprises, Commerce & Cooperatives to USA in the context of the MAGIC Textile Industry Show. He was accompanied by a delegation of 11 entrepreneurs in the textile and clothing sector. The Show, which is the world's largest and most widely recognized trade show, attracted more than 700 apparel manufacturers, branded apparel and accessory wholesalers, designers and product development teams from major retailers from over 30 countries. The Mauritian enterprises have received good response from potential buyers.
During the visit, the Minister had meetings with, inter alia -
(i) the President of the Mauritius-US Business Association on AGOA and the extension of 3rd Country Fabric derogation to Mauritius or a value-added rule of origin that Mauritius can easily satisfy;
(ii) Inter-American Development Bank to discuss funding possibilities for the construction of additional storage capacity for petroleum products and cement;
(iii) the Mayor of San Francisco to explore possible business opportunities; and
(iv) Levi Strauss & Co.
Cabinet has also taken note that the Minister had meetings and working sessions in the UK with the Commonwealth Secretariat, UK businessmen, Manchester Chamber of Commerce and Industry, British Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the UK Gemmological Association and Gem Testing.
At the University of Manchester, the Minister had discussion with Professor Young, Head of School of Materials and with the Heads of other faculties to enlist their support in the setting up of a Fashion and Design Institute in Mauritius. A proposal was also made for the University of Manchester to establish closer links with the University of Mauritius and the Textile and Apparel Development Centre of Enterprise Mauritius.
The Minister also met the Overseas Development Institute and the Small Business Service of the Department of Trade and Industry to explore possibility of cooperation and assistance.
17. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the 16th International Aids Conference held in Toronto from 13 to 18 August 2006. The International AIDS Conference is one of the most important gatherings for the release and discussion of key developments in the fight against HIV/AIDS. The theme for this year’s conference was “Time to deliver” emphasizing on the need to move beyond asking questions and to make the world’s hopes and plans regarding the response to HIV/AIDS a REALITY. The Conference emphasized on:-
(i) the scaling up of funds to fight HIV/AIDS, particularly for the research of a vaccine and microbicides;
(ii) universal access to prevention and treatment;
(iii) harm reduction strategies, especially for injecting drug users;
(iv) pre-exposure Prophylaxis(PREP);
(v) human rights and HIV/AIDS; and
(vi) poverty and HIV/AIDS.
18. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the recent mission of the Minister of Social Security, National Solidarity and Senior Citizens Welfare & Reform Institutions to New York, where she participated in the Eighth Session of the United Nations Ad Hoc Committee on a Comprehensive and Integral International Convention on the Protection and the Promotion of the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities.
The Session culminated in a Draft Convention having the following principles -
(a) respect for inherent dignity, individual autonomy including the freedom to make one’s own choice, and independence of persons;
(b) respect for differences and acceptance of disability as part of human diversity and humanity;
(c) equality of opportunity;
(e) equality between men and women; and
(f) respect for the evolving capacities of children with disabilities and respect for the right of children with disabilities to preserve their identities.
In the margin of the Conference, the Minister had meetings and discussions on cooperation in the field of disabilities with –
(a) Hon (Mrs) Meira Kumar, Minister of Social Justice & Empowerment, Government of India;
(b) Mr P. Monod Gayraud, "Chargé de Mission auprès de Délégué Interministériel aux Personnes Handicapées";
(c) Mr Urbano Stenta, Director of International Solidarity and President of Donors Committee of the World Bank; and
(d) Mr Graeme Innes, Chairman of Human Rights and Disability Discrimination and Chairman of the Equal Opportunity Commission.
19. Cabinet has taken note of the following appointments –
(a) Mr O. Saccaram as Chairperson of the Board of Rose Belle Sugar Estate;
(b) Dr Diwakur Bundhun as Chairperson of the Mauritius Posts and Cooperative Bank Ltd; and
(c) Mr Neerunjun Gopee as Chief Medical Officer at the Ministry of Health and Quality of Life