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Prime Minister's Office>Cabinet Decisions taken on 16 June 2006

Cabinet Decisions taken on 16 June 2006

1. Following discussions the Prime Minister had with the US Authorities during his visit to Washington, Cabinet has taken note that the US authorities have agreed to Mauritius entering into a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement with the USA as a first step towards closer economic and trade relations between the two countries. The Agreement inter alia provides for the establishment of a Council which will take appropriate measures to encourage and facilitate the exchange of goods and services and to secure favourable conditions for long term development and diversification of trade and investment between the two countries.

2. Cabinet has taken note that the State Trading Corporation (STC) and Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Ltd had, on 14 June 2006, signed an agreement for the supply of Petroleum Products to the State Trading Corporation for the year 2006-2007. This will allow savings for the country to the tune of around Rs 350 million. The first consignment will arrive in Port Louis in August 2006. All Petroleum Products will be transported in double hull vessels accredited by MARPOL, an internationally recognized body. The Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Ltd is India's most valuable company having a market capitalization in excess of USD 30 billion.

3. Cabinet has taken note of the recent visit of the Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Public Infrastructure, Land Transport & Shipping to Qatar, on the invitation of the First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Qatar, Sheik Hamad bin Jassim Al Thani, with whom he had inter alia discussed on the following issues -
(a) Traffic Rights for Qatar Airways on the route Doha-Mauritius with a view to boosting and revitalizing the tourism sector;
(b) potential for Qatar to supply Mauritius with gas at preferential rates;
(c) consolidation of diplomatic relations and opening of embassies to enhance cooperation in various fields; and
(d) potential for Qatari investment in tourism, more specifically in setting up first class hotels.
The visit of the Deputy Prime Minister has been fruitful inasmuch as a Qatari delegation would be in Mauritius by the end of June 2006 to negotiate Air Services agreement and visit the Bel Ombre sites for the setting up of two first-class hotels.
He also visited U.K., where he had meetings inter alia with Mr E. Mitropoulos, Secretary General of International Maritime Organisation, with whom he evoked the following issues -
(a) the possibility of technical assistance for the new Sea Training School, in terms of appropriate resources and equipment; and
(b) the provision of the services of an expert for a period of six months to help the Director of the School operationalise effectively the new school.
Mr Mitropoulos has accepted an invitation to inaugurate the new sea school and meet inter alia the marine scientific community and interact with school children on the possibility of starting a career in the shipping sector.

4. With a view to promoting professionalism and quality commitment in the construction sector and paving the way for the emergence and consolidation of a vibrant industry of international standard, Cabinet has agreed to the draft Construction Industry Development Board Bill being discussed with all stakeholders before its introduction into the National Assembly. The Bill aims at consolidating and improving the existing law relating to the regulation of the construction industry and provides for –
(a) the setting up of the Construction Industry Development Board as a regulatory body;
(b) the registration and deregistration of consultants and contractors;
(c) the provisional and temporary registration of foreign consultants and contractors; and
(d) enforcement measures, including the inspection of construction sites.

5. With a view to further promoting cooperation in the field of fisheries and fisheries management, Cabinet has agreed to the Ministry of Agro Industry & Fisheries signing a Memorandum of Understanding with the Department of Fisheries of the Government of Western Australia. The Memorandum of Understanding provides for joint activities and exchanges which would cover exchange of technical and scientific information on various aspects of the fisheries sector and, in particular, fisheries management, fishing rights, research collaboration, aquaculture, compliance with international sanitary and phytosanitary standards, fish health, capacity building and such other matters related to fisheries and marine resources as may be mutually agreed upon by both parties.

6. Cabinet has taken note that the next meeting of the Council of the International Sugar Organisation would be held in Mauritius in 2007. The International Sugar Organisation which administers the International Sugar Agreement aims inter alia at –
(a) ensuring enhanced international cooperation in connection with world sugar matters and related issues;
(b) providing a forum for intergovernmental consultations on sugar and on ways to improve the world sugar economy; and
(c) encouraging increased demand for sugar, particularly for non-traditional uses.

7. In order to create the necessary water infrastructure to meet the present and future water demand of the Port Louis and Lower Plaines Wilhems regions up to 2050 as well as to increase water availability for irrigation to the extent possible, Cabinet has taken note of developments in the construction of the proposed Bagatelle Dam across river Terre Rouge with diversion of water from river Cascade. The gross storage capacity of the proposed dam would be 8.98 M cubic metres with an average annual regulated volume of 14.5 M cubic metres.

8. In the light of sanitary advice obtained, Cabinet has agreed to prohibit the importation and sale of all cosmetic products containing Vitamin K1 (Phytonadione), as the use of such products might have multiple side effects, including a host of allergies.

9. Cabinet has agreed to the submission of the candidature of Mauritius for membership to the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage. The aim of the Committee is, inter alia, to promote the objectives of the Convention for the safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage which are to –
(a) safeguard the intangible cultural heritage, such as practices, representations, expressions, knowledge, etc., that committees, groups and in some cases individuals, recognize as part of their cultural heritage;
(b) ensure respect for the intangible cultural heritage of the communities, groups and individuals concerned;
(c) raise awareness at the local, national and international levels of the importance of the intangible cultural heritage, and of ensuring mutual appreciation thereof; and
(d) provide for international cooperation and assistance.

10. In order to ensure compliance with the provisions of Article 2 of the Workmen’s Compensation (Occupational Diseases) Convention (Revised) 1934 which Mauritius ratified in 1969, Cabinet has agreed to the National Pensions (Industrial Injuries) Regulations 1979 being amended to include silicosis, with or without pulmonary tuberculosis, and the loading and unloading or transport of merchandise in general, which may lead to anthrax infection, in the First Schedule to the Industrial Injuries Regulations 1979 which provides for the payment of industrial injury benefits to persons for incapacity or death resulting from an industrial accident or a prescribed occupational disease.

11. Cabinet has taken note of the list of Public Holidays for the year 2007 as follows –
New Year Monday 01 January
New Year Tuesday 02 January
Thaipoosam Cavadee Thursday 01 February
Abolition of Slavery Thursday 01 February
Maha Shivaratree Friday 16 February
Chinese Spring Festival Sunday 18 February
National Day Monday 12 March
Ougadi Tuesday 20 March
Labour Day Tuesday 01 May
Ganesh Chaturthi Sunday 16 September
Eid-Ul-Fitr** Saturday 13 October
All Saints Day Thursday 01 November
Arrival of Indentured Labourers Friday 02 November
Divali Friday 09 November
Christmas Tuesday 25 December

**The exact date of this festival is subject to confirmation as its celebration depends on the visibility of the moon.

12. In order to promote the protection and conservation of forestry resources by Government agencies, NGO's as well as civil society actors, Cabinet has agreed to the publication of the National Forestry Policy which inter alia identifies the following main issues:
(i) conservation and protection of watersheds and other environmentally sensitive areas in Mauritius and Rodrigues;
(ii) increasing tree cover to enhance the environment and the carbon sink capacity of the forests;
(iii) degradation of native forests by invasion of alien species;
(iv) development of inland recreation and eco-tourism business;
(v) conversion to forest of abandoned sugar-cane land in environmentally sensitive areas;
(vi) development of small forest-based business for income generation in Rodrigues and Mauritius; and
(vii) improvement of the forestry service in Mauritius and Rodrigues.
The policy paper would serve as a basis for a National Forestry Action Programme which would be prepared to provide a strategic framework for the development of the forest sector. Accordingly, a Coordinating Committee would be established to guide the planning and coordination of activities in the sector.

13. Cabinet has taken note that the National Youth Council, operating under the aegis of the Ministry of Youth & Sports, and 'Connect Youth UK', would sign a Memorandum of Understanding with a view to promoting youth development programmes in both countries. Connect Youth UK, a department of the British Council, promotes
non-formal exchanges between young people of UK and other countries and provides funding assistance to help youth workers develop skills and contacts necessary to professionalise their intervention among youth. Following a recent visit of a delegation from Connect Youth UK, Microsoft has, through the British Council, provided financial support to SOS Poverty for the training of 750 young people in Information Technology over a period of three years. In this connection, the Senior Development Manager of Connect Youth UK proposes to visit Mauritius to identify IT Training Youth Centres.

14. In line with Government's policy to liberalise air access, especially, in the context of the development of the regional tourist market and the duty free concept, Cabinet has taken note that bilateral air services talks would be held between Mauritius and Madagascar in Antananarivo to review some of the provisions of the existing Bilateral Air Services Agreement in order to take on board issues like multiple destination, capacity and frequency.

15. As a follow up on the outcome of the official visit of the Prime Minister to France in March 2006, Cabinet has taken note that a team from the ‘Agence Française de Développement’ visited Mauritius from 22 to 26 May 2006 when the delegation had several working sessions with officials of the Ministry of Finance & Economic Development and other line Ministries with a view to exploring the possibility of financing projects underpinning the economic reform programme. Some 27 projects relating to the following sectors were discussed -
(i) Airport and Port development;
(ii) Small and Medium Enterprises;
(iii) Environment, including Wastewater Disposal;
(iv) Information, Communication and Telecommunication (ICT); and
(v) Land Management.

16. In the context of the United Nations International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking celebrated every year on 26 June, Cabinet has taken note of the activities to be organized by the Ministry of Social Security, National Solidarity and Senior Citizens Welfare & Reform Institutions, in collaboration with the NATReSA, with a view to sensitizing the school population, the youth, the family and civil society at large on the ills and detrimental socio-economic consequences of substance abuse. Accordingly, a National Programme would be organized at the Indira Gandhi Centre for Indian Culture and a commemorative magazine and pamphlets on substance abuse would be distributed among the various target groups.

17. To mark the International Cooperative Day, Cabinet has taken note that the Ministry of Industry, Small & Medium Enterprises, Commerce & Co-operatives would hold a working session with cooperators on the theme of this year "Peace Building through Cooperatives" at Paul Octave Wiéhé Auditorium. On that occasion, the first issue of the Co-operatives Newsletter of the year 2006 as well as the Customer Charter for the Co-operatives Division of that Ministry would be launched. Copies of a summary of the Code of Best practices for Co-operatives would also be distributed.

18. To mark the Music Day celebrated every year on 21 June, Cabinet has taken note of the activities being organised by the Ministry of Arts and Culture, in collaboration with other Ministries, local authorities and cultural organisations. The activities include Lunch-Time Music programmes between 1200 hrs to 1245 hrs on 21 June at the Municipal Councils.

19. In the context of the International Youth Day to be observed on 12 August 2006, Cabinet has taken note of the activities to be organized by the Ministry of Youth & Sports and the National Youth Council, namely:
(a) a forum on action to further encourage the empowerment and participation of youth in the processes and decisions that affect their lives on 12 August 2006 at the Octave Wiehe Auditorium;
(b) a project competition relating to the theme for youth between 14 and 29 years;
(c) an exhibition at all youth centres to show-case youth contribution to the society; and
(d) organisation of exchanges and dialogues focussing on the varied skills, interests and aspirations of young people.

20. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the following meetings :
(i) the Meeting of ICT Ministers of Eastern and Southern African countries on the NEPAD Broadband Network held in South Africa. The Meeting considered the following:
(a) policy, legal and regulatory aspects of the NEPAD Broadband ICT Infrastructure Network;
(b) structure of the Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) to own, operate and maintain the NEPAD Broadband ICT Infrastructure Network; and
(c) fast-tracking the implementation process.
The Meeting took note of progress achieved in the implementation of the EASSy project and also adopted the resolution relating to the expression of interest of Mauritius to join the EASSy Cable.
(ii) the Forty First Annual Meeting of the Board of Governors of the African Development Bank Group held in Bukina Faso during which the following issues were inter alia discussed–
(a) development of south/south cooperation;
(b) appropriate guidance for trade and investments; and
(c) assistance to middle income countries, with emphasis on their improved access to private capital markets.
(iii) the AGOA Consultative Group and the AGOA Forum held in Washington the objective of which were to provide a platform to the AGOA eligible countries to deliberate on issues falling under AGOA and submit proposals to improve its implementation to the US Authorities, as well as to discuss a number of issues of critical importance, including ways and means of improving the implementation of AGOA.
(iv) the Ministerial Meeting of the Coordinating Bureau of the Non-Aligned Movement held in Malaysia which provided an opportunity for useful and constructive exchange of views on a wide range of issues of interest and importance to the Non-Aligned Movement, including peace and security, and economic and social development on the theme "Towards a more dynamic and cohesive Non-Aligned Movement: challenges of the 21st Century".
(v) the “Conference des Ministres de l’éducation des Pays ayant le français en partage (CONFEMEN)” held in Niger which provided an opportunity for Ministers and various participants, including International Organisations, and Development Partners, to reflect further on the theme of “La Gestion Scolaire: facteur d’amélioration de l’acces et de la qualité de l’éducation”.
(vi) the 83rd Session of the ACP Council of Ministers Meetings in Papua New Guinea during which the continued importance for solidarity and unity among the ACP, especially among ACP sugar protocol countries were highlighted. The ACP Council adopted a comprehensive resolution on Sugar and also called on the EU and the EC to ensure that –
(a) the erosion of preferences is limited to the minimum possible extent;
(b) sugar is classified as a sensitive product; and
(c) in line with the WTO undertaking contained in the July 2004 Framework Agreement, the Sugar Protocol is bound as a Tariff Rate Quota in accordance with the relevant article of GATT.
(vii) the 31st Session of the ACP-EU Council of Ministers held in Papua New Guinea during which the Council agreed to increase the 10th EDF envelope, adopted a comprehensive Joint Declaration on Climate Change and also agreed to continue the support to the Global Environment facility.
(viii) the Thirty Ninth Session of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa/ Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning & Economic Development held in Bukina Faso during which the Conference adopted recommendations highlighting the necessity for inter alia -
(a) an explicit inclusion of employment objectives, measurable targets and indicators in the macroeconomic framework in the same manner in which other economic objectives and targets are set;
(b) the establishment of employment monitoring mechanisms within the framework of macroeconomic policies; and
(c) monitoring of public expenditures to ensure cost-effectiveness, better outcomes and better understanding of the linkages between job creation and overall development of existing mechanisms for tracking.