1. In line with Government's policy to establish a new generation of economic and trade partnership with India, and at the same time, to ensure the optimum exploitation of our marine resources, Cabinet has agreed to a Memorandum of Understanding being signed with the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Videsh Limited of India for the exploration and exploitation of hydrocarbon and petroleum resources in the Exclusive Economic Zone of Mauritius. The Memorandum of Understanding would be signed during the State Visit of the President of the Republic of India from 11 to 13 March 2006.
2. Following aggressive campaigns launched by Government to boost the tourism sector, Cabinet has taken note that, after December 2005 and January 2006, another excellent performance has been recorded in tourist arrivals for the month of February 2006, i.e., 64,894 as compared to 56,367 for February 2005 representing a double digit increase of 15.1%.
Tourists arrivals for the period of January and February 2006 reached 151,112 as compared to 129,420 for the corresponding period last year, i.e., an increase of 16.8%. During that period, arrivals from France grew by 10.5%, Italy by 87%, Germany by 25.3% and UK by 11.6%, thus confirming the recovery of our traditional markets.
To further consolidate tourist arrivals, aggressive promotional campaigns are being carried out on all markets and air access opened up. On 25 and 28 February 2006, bilateral air services talks were held with the Austrian Authorities and a Memorandum of Understanding had been signed providing inter alia for -
(a) a system of multiple destination of airlines through the principle of dual destination;
(b) the designated airline of each country being entitled to increase operations to two weekly frequencies on the route Mauritius/Austria using any aircraft type as from IATA Winter 2006/2007 and the weekly frequencies being gradually increased to reach five weekly flights as from IATA Winter 2009/2010; and
(c) the adoption of clauses on Aviation Security and Aviation Safety in line with the requirements of ICAO.
3.Cabinet has taken note that the houses of 13 families at Chitrakoot have been severely affected by landslide following the recent heavy rainfall and has agreed to the families being relocated to Morcellement Raffray, Le Hochet. Letters of Intent would be issued next week.
4.Cabinet has taken note that Apollo Greenfield Hospitals would put up medical facilities in Mauritius at Réduit. The promoters would make an investment of about Rs 1 billion and create some 500 employment.
5.In the context of that the Patriotic Week organized on the occasion of the National Day Celebrations, Cabinet has taken note that about 6,000 children in the vulnerable groups would be provided with a patriotic lunch by hotels, restaurants and fast food enterprises of the country.
6.Cabinet has taken note of the proposed visit of Prof Mark Granick, Programme Director and Chief of the Division of Plastic Surgery Department of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. During his visit, Prof Granick would, inter alia, look into about 20 cases of plastic surgery and perform operative procedures, with possibility of training interested surgeons, work on cases involving congenital deformities, breast reconstruction as well as head and neck cancer. Prof Granick has also offered to supply relevant equipment not available in Mauritius for plastic surgery.
7. Cabinet has taken note of the activities being organised to celebrate, for the first time in Mauritius, the World Consumer Rights Day on 15 March 2006. The World Consumer Rights Day is celebrated every year to inform, educate and sensitize consumers about their basic rights. This year, the focus will be on “Energy: Sustainable Access for All", as one of the main challenges facing the world is the provision of energy, unsustainable consumption and its impact on the future of the planet. The first of the series of activities to be organised in that context, is the launching of a Consumer Awareness Campaign on 15 March 2006 at the Auditorium of the Mahatma Gandhi Institute comprising inter alia the launching of posters, flyers and booklets, exhibition of photos and projection of video clips on the rights of consumers.
8.Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the mission of the Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Finance & Economic Development to Paris where he attended the Conference on Innovative Financing for Development, an initiative of the President of the Republic of France. The aim of the Conference was to strengthen consensus on the need to implement new development financing mechanisms and particularly international solidarity contributions with a view to combating poverty and the spread of the three devastating pandemics, viz., HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, in the developing world. The Conference marked a new step towards rallying support of the international community for innovative financing for development. In the margins of the Conference, the Deputy Prime Minister had a working session with members of the Cabinet of the French President on inter alia joint ventures and transfer of technology. The French side reassured the Deputy Prime Minister their continued support and reiterated the consensus of the French President with the economic challenges confronting Mauritius.
9.Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the Sixth Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation (IOR-ARC) Ministerial Meeting which was held in Teheran, Islamic Republic of Iran from 9 to 12 February 2006. The declared policy of the IOR-ARC is to achieve regional security and greater welfare through bilateral and multilateral relations and by strengthening the regional alliances within the framework of South-South Cooperation. The Council voted the year 2007 as the Tourism Year of the IOR-ARC and discussed inter alia the creation of the Indian Ocean Tourism Organisation.
10.Cabinet has taken note that the next Meeting of the Council of Ministers of the Indian Ocean Commission would be held in Madagascar on 16 and 17 March 2006 and that Mauritius would assume the chair of the Commission for the next one year. The Council would review ongoing projects in the fields of politics, diplomacy and security, economic and trade cooperation, management of coastal and marine resources and human development.
11.Cabinet has taken note of the recommendations of the WHO team which visited Mauritius from 27 February to 1 March 2006. The team has recommended that there was a need to continue mobilising the entire population with a view to eliminating breeding sites of the vectors of Chikungunya. The team has proposed that a WHO social mobilization guide specifically developed for Aedes control and which applies a Communication for Behavioural Impact (COMBI) strategy which could be adapted to the Mauritian context. The team has also advised that an expert on COMBI techniques could be useful to implement social mobilisation activities.
Cabinet has also taken note that following the recent heavy rains, larcividing and fogging operations had been being temporarily suspended and the personnel involved in such activities have been carrying out house to house visits in areas affected by Chikungunya to sensitise the public about preventive measures to be taken with a view to eliminating mosquito breeding grounds.
As part of the national effort to control Chikungunya, the State Trading Corporation has imported 5000 litres of Citronella oil and 1000 litres of Neem oil which would be put to sale as from next week at the following prices –
(i) Citronella oil (100 ml) at Rs 75.- and
(ii) Neem oil (30 ml) at Rs 25.