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Prime Minister's Office>Cabinet Decisions taken on 14 July 2006

Cabinet Decisions taken on 14 July 2006

1. Cabinet has taken note that the UNESCO World Heritage Committee has approved of the Aapravasi Ghat, “considered to be of outstanding value to humanity”, being listed as a World Heritage Site. The World Heritage Committee which held its meeting during the course of the week, is responsible for implementing the 1972 UN Convention of the protection of cultural and natural sites around the world. The Aapravasi Ghat is the 1,640 m2 site where the modern indentured labour diaspora began. In 1834, the British Government selected the island of Mauritius to be the first site for what it called “the great experiment” in the use of “free” labour to replace slaves. Between 1834 and 1920, almost half a million indentured labourers arrived from India at Aapravasi Ghat to work in the sugar plantations of Mauritius, or to be transferred to Reunion Island, Australia, Southern and Eastern Africa or the Caribbean. The buildings of Aapravasi Ghat are among the earliest explicit manifestations of what was to become a global economic system and one of the greatest migrations in history.

2. Cabinet has taken note of the comments of the Director of Audit on the accounts of the National Solidarity Fund for the financial year 2004/2005. Cabinet has further taken note of the adverse comments of the Director of Audit on instances of excessive expenditure on the following –
(a) recurrent expenditure for the year, as per the Income and Expenditure Account, totalled Rs14.1M against Rs6.4M for the previous year representing an increase of 120%;
(b) the Fund disbursed a total amount of Rs468,454 to 23 beneficiaries to either start a business or for the refund of housing loans or for the construction of a house contrary to the Fund’s statutory objectives;
(c) the Fund disbursed funds to two beneficiaries based on the same application documents that were submitted for the first claim, on two different occasions. Overpayments totalled Rs45,000; and
(d) the Fund disbursed an amount of Rs20,000 to a beneficiary though the medical certificate produced appeared to be doubtful.
Cabinet has agreed to the implementation of the remedial measures to avoid the recurrence of similar situations, inter alia -
(i) the preparation of a budget in order to operate in a more transparent manner;
(ii) financial assistance would no longer be provided for housing and business purposes;
(iii) the computerisation of the system to avoid double payments; and
(iv) the production of original medical certificates by applicants.

3. In line with Government commitment to relocate the inhabitants of Mare Chicose, Cabinet has taken note of the recommendations of the Ministerial Committee set up under the chairmanship of the Minister of Local Government and comprising inter alia a representative of the inhabitants of Mare Chicose. The Committee considered various options and finally agreed to the proposal of the inhabitants of Mare Chicose for their resettlement at Marie Jeannie. The Committee also recommended –
(a) a land to land swap of same size as advised by the consultant IDP; and
(b) that paying tenants or free occupants be given the opportunity to buy or lease a plot of land in the relocation area.

4. With a view to upgrading the tourism product portfolio and enhancing visitor's experience in Mauritius, Cabinet has taken note that, since its opening to the public in February 2006, the Citadel has been visited by a number of tourists and members of the public. Cabinet has also taken note of developments in the works being carried out to rehabilitate and restore the Citadel to its original historical cachet and to recreate the atmosphere "d'antan". Cabinet has also agreed to the setting up of a management company, entirely owned by Government, to manage, promote and maintain the Citadel as a tourist, leisure as well as a cultural site. The company would raise funds, inter alia, from sale of entrance tickets, the organization of income generating activities and hiring of the premises to organizers for recreational/leisure/cultural activities.

5. With a view to reinforcing regional cooperation and consolidating the base for making Mauritius a Seafood Hub, Cabinet has taken note of the renewal of the Fishing Agreement between Mauritius and the Japan Tuna Fisheries Cooperative Association for a further period of two years. The new agreement would provide, inter alia for an increase in the number of fish vessels to be licensed and an extension in the validity period of the fishing licence. These amendments would bring additional revenue in terms of licence and Vessel Monitoring System fees.
Cabinet has also taken note of the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Ministry of Agro Industry & Fisheries and the Overseas Fishery Cooperation Foundation of Japan for the provision of technical assistance and equipment for upgrading the infrastructure of the Fisheries Division of the Ministry of Agro Industry & Fisheries and the Agricultural Marketing Board.

6. In the wake of Government’s effort to fight Chikungunya, Cabinet has taken note of the preventive measures taken, well ahead of the beginning of the summer season, to avoid the resurgence of the disease. In this context, the Ministry of Industry, Small & Medium Enterprises, Commerce & Cooperatives, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Quality of Life, has taken a series of measures to sensitize employees of industries on ways and means to combat the spread of the disease. Apart from measures focusing on information, education and communication, a circular letter would be issued to industries –
(a) guiding them on precautionary measures to protect their workers, and on proper housekeeping practices on their premises and in their immediate vicinity;
(b) advising the enterprises on the purchase and use of appropriate spraying equipment and insecticides for regular larviciding at their premises and immediate vicinity;
(c) requesting them to enlist the support of the Health and Safety officers to educate workers and ensure that precautionary measures were taken; and
(d) requesting them to alert the Ministry of Health and Quality of Life in cases of high absenteeism.
Furthermore, L’AHRIM would embark on a communication campaign primarily aimed at sensitizing the community at large, as well as, all stakeholders on the need to adopt sound practices and measures to prevent the resurgence of the disease.

7. Cabinet has taken note of the proposal for the twinning project between Port Louis and Doha, Qatar. The twinning arrangement would benefit both the tourism and investment sectors and promote exchanges in the field of education, sports and culture.

8. Cabinet has taken note of the status of the implementation of the recommendations of the report of the Food and Veterinary Office (FVO) Mission which visited Mauritius from 23 to 27 January 2006. With a view to maintaining the image of Mauritius as a reliable exporter of fish and fish products, an Action Plan has been prepared. A Special Unit has been set up within the Fisheries Division of the Ministry of Agro Industry & Fisheries to monitor and for the timely implementation of the Action Plan. To meet the deadline imposed by the EU, the Ministry of Agro Industry & Fisheries has enlisted the services of a Phyto-sanitary/Veterinary Control Expert to monitor the implementation of the recommendations of the FVO Mission.

9. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the mission of the Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Public Infrastructure, Land Transport & Shipping to Gambia on 1 and 2 July 2006, where he attended the Seventh Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Heads of State and Government of the African Union. The Assembly inter alia -
(i) undertook to lead in and support the implementation of the Abuja Call for Accelerated Action Towards Universal Access to HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Services in Africa, through, among others, ensuring sustained local funding;
(ii) stressed the importance of effective management and coordination of United Nations activities in Africa, and in this regard, requested the UN Secretary General to enhance the coordination role played by the Economic Commission for Africa and its Executive Secretary to strengthen United Nations System-wide coherence for an effective support to the African Union and its programme NEPAD; and
(iii) directed Member States to ensure respect for human and peoples' rights as a pre-requisite for the attainment of a common vision of a united and prosperous Africa.

10. Cabinet has taken note of the reconstitution of the Board of Governors of the University of Technology, Mauritius (UTM) for the period 2006 – 2007, under the chairmanship of Mr Fakhru J. Currimjee, GOSK.