1. Cabinet has taken note of the progress achieved in the setting up of a Pan African e-network Project initiated by HE Dr Abdul Kalam, President of the Republic of India in conjunction with the African Union. The Project for which the Government of India has earmarked a budget of USD 63.70 million, aims at connecting 53 African countries through satellite, fibre optics and wireless links to provide electronic and knowledge connectivity to African nations with a view to bridging the digital divide and providing tele-education, tele-medicine and VVIP connectivity for voice, internet and videoconferencing services.
2. Taking into consideration the recurrent increase in the price of petroleum products and the need to reduce dependence on petroleum products and boost local investment, Cabinet has agreed to the implementation of a pilot project by Alcodis limited and Total (Mauritius) Ltd for the testing of engine performance using Ethanol/Mogas mix. The pilot project which would be carried out over a period of two-months, starting April 2006, would assist in evaluating the practical difficulties and other considerations of the use of Ethanol/Mogas mix for an eventual roll out plan in the future. The successful introduction of Ethanol/Mogas mix on the local market would help Mauritius inter alia catch on the untapped possibilities of the Sugar Industry and at the same time go a long way in enhancing the efforts undertaken to preserve the environment.
3. Cabinet has taken note that in line with its election observation programme, the SADC Parliamentary Forum proposes to undertake a post- election mission to Mauritius from 6 to 10 March 2006. During its stay, the Mission will –
(i) hold consultations with as many stakeholders as possible to build consensus on all findings and recommendations of July 2005 election observation mission,
(ii) learn from stakeholders any constitutional and electoral reforms that may be contemplated; and
(iii) identify, in consultation with stakeholders, areas of assistance and support in achieving all contemplated reforms.
The Mission will take the opportunity to formally handover the final report of the Forum’s July 2005 election observation mission.
4. In line with the policy of Government to streamline and simplify procedures with a view to speeding up the processing of applications, Cabinet has agreed to the relevant legislation being amended to simplify the existing procedures for change of name and to make it less costly. Henceforth, any member of public who wishes to change his/her name, or that of his/her child(ren), will only have to fill in an Application Form which will be available at all Civil Status Offices and Citizens Advice Bureaux and submit the Form, duly filled in, to the Attorney General's Office. In order to avoid mistakes when recording entries in a Civil Status Certificate and undue trouble to rectify it afterwards, members of the public are invited to verify on the spot the correctness of entries made.
5.In the context of the "Patriotic Week" organized on the occasion of the National Day Celebrations, Cabinet has agreed to the organization of a 'Parliament for Children' which will bring together some 70 children aged between 14 and 18 and which shall be as diverse as possible in terms of regional representation, gender, ethnicity and academic background. The group shall, as far as possible, also include children out of school as well as those in non-mainstream school. The aims of the event are to -
(i) create opportunities for children to meet and express their views on issues of their interest with a view to allowing them to develop their self-confidence, self-awareness and self-esteem;
(ii) help Members of Parliament understand the meaning of children’s rights and take cognizance of the views of children on child - related issues; and
(iii) develop and run specific projects and events that demonstrate ways in which the rights of the child, as enshrined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, can be practically implemented.
6.Cabinet has taken note that the Attorney General's Office will distribute copies of the Constitution of Mauritius in Colleges with a view to sensitising students about the Constitution, in general, and of the fundamental rights and freedoms enshrined in the Constitution; and the powers and functioning of Government machinery, i.e., Parliament, the Executive and the Judicature.
7. Being fully aware of the numerous challenges facing the textile and clothing sectors, and the need to re-engineer the processes in the sector in order to create a strong and modern structure, Cabinet has agreed to the holding in Mauritius of a Seminar on Textiles and Clothing from 20 to 24 March 2006 to be conducted by the Institute for Training and Technical Cooperation of the World Trade Organisation. The main objective of the Seminar is to sensitize the stakeholders on the effects of the phasing out of quotas and to devise a strategy that would be appropriate in the Doha Round of Negotiations. Some 50 participants both from the public and private sectors would benefit from the seminar. Participants from the neighbouring textile exporting countries that have been severely affected by the phasing out of the Multi-Fibre Agreement (MFA) restrictions, would also be invited to attend.
8. Cabinet has taken note that the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) will run a distance learning progamme on the "Legal Aspects of E-Commerce" in Mauritius from 21 March to 4 April 2006 with a view to enhancing the capacities of policy makers, business communities, lawyers and service providers on legal aspects of e-commerce and also to familiarize them with the legal environment of e-commerce.
9. In the context of the National Day Celebrations, Cabinet has taken note of the detailed programme of activities of the Official Ceremony to be held on 12 March at Esplanade Prof Basdeo Bissoondoyal. The programme will also comprise –
(i) a défilé depicting the historic evolution of the Mauritian society;
(ii) a défilé of different linguistic groups;
(iii) a fusion show; and
(iv) a défilé of private motorcycles and classic cars.
Cabinet has also taken note that a popular show will be held at Esplanade Prof Basdeo Bissoondoyal in the evening, which will culminate in a giant fireworks display.
10.Cabinet has taken note of activities to be organized in the context of the International Women’s Day on 8 March 2006. The theme retained by the United Nations for this year’s International Women’s Day is “Women in Decision-Making”. With a view to acknowledging the outstanding contributions of women in different fields, the Ministry of Women’s Rights, Child Development, Family Welfare & Consumer Protection will also celebrate the "Achievements of women over the past three decades”. In addition, a Young Women Entrepreneur Initiative Award is being launched in order to encourage women in entrepreneurship development. This Award will be open to young women aged between 18 to 30 years, engaged or willing to engage in any type of business plans. The winner will be provided with support and advice to implement her project.
11.Cabinet has taken note that 341 cases of Chikungunya in Mauritius had been registered during the period 23 December, 2005 to 17 February, 2006 and also of additional measures taken to contain the spread of the disease in Mauritius, namely -
(i) an extensive campaign geared towards the elimination of mosquito breeding grounds is being carried out and a monitoring team, comprising, inter alia, a public health doctor and a Principal Health Inspector, has been set up to carry out random checks and submit daily reports with a view to ensuring that the fogging, spraying and larviciding programmes are being implemented as planned;
(ii) Regional Health Directors have been requested to ensure that all hospital wards and health offices are equipped with mosquito repellents and coils;
(iii) responsible officers of schools and the students are being sensitized on the need of making use of coils and mosquito repellents as a preventive measure; and
(iv) radio and television programmes in creole and bhojpuri are being broadcast with a view to sensitizing the public on the precautionary measures to be taken, particularly the cleaning of water collections, especially on roofs, appropriate disposal of used tyres, tins, cans, etc.
12.Cabinet has agreed to Mauritius signing the Charter and Rules of Procedure of the ACP Parliamentary Assembly which provides the necessary institutional framework for the works of the ACP Parliamentarians and reaffirms the inter-Parliamentary Cooperation mechanism within the ACP group. The ACP Assembly which was established last year, aims at reinforcing intra-ACP Cooperation for the implementation of the Cotonou Agreement and the achievement of its objectives by promoting relations between the national parliaments of the ACP States and ensuring their cohesiveness and by making parliamentary contribution to the deliberations as well as activities of the Council of Ministers.
13.Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the recent lobbying mission effected by the Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Finance & Economic Development and the Minister of Agro Industry & Fisheries to Europe following the proposals of the EC to the European Development Fund for the allocation of funds earmarked for 2006 and for period 2007-2013 for ACP States Supplying Sugar under the Sugar Protocol in a manner which could be detrimental to the interest of Mauritius. The Ministerial delegation had extensive meetings with a number of important personalities, including the President of the European Parliament and the EU Ministers who were strongly urged to review the criteria and principles for the allocation of funds so that restructuring measures initiated to maintain the viability and sustainability of the Sugar Industry is not jeopardized. In view of the positive response by EU Ministers and other stakeholders, our lobbying is being stepped up.
14.Cabinet has taken note of the deliberations and outcome of the Fourth meeting of the Empowered Negotiation Team on the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation and Partnership Agreement (CECPA) between India and Mauritius held on 30 and 31 January 2006 at Domaine Les Pailles. The following issues were examined -
(i) Preferential Trade Agreement including the Rules of Origin and the Operational Certification Procedures ;
(ii) Technical Barriers to Trade and Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures with a view to improving market access opportunities and facilitating trade flows between the two countries;
(iii) Investment and the Double Tax Avoidance Agreement; and
(iv) economic cooperation including the setting up of a Knowledge Hub/Centre of Excellence, a Seafood Industry and the development of SME's.
Cabinet further took note that Sri Ramachandra Medical Centre and the Birla Institute of Technology and Science were envisaging to set up offshore campuses in Mauritius.
The Fifth Round of CECPA Negotiations would take place in New Delhi on 23-25 February 2006.
15.Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the meetings of the Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) and European Communities (EC) held from 7 to 9 February 2006 in Mauritius in the context of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) Negotiations namely -
(i) the Third Joint ESA-EC Ambassadors/Senior Officials meeting the aim of which was to negotiate pertinent issues in the Development cluster as well as to identify areas of divergence for consideration by the Joint ESA-EU Ministerial meeting;
(ii) the Second ESA-EPA Ministerial Meeting which took stock of the progress made so far in the negotiations and which deliberated on certain important issues, namely Development, Agriculture, Fisheries and Market Access. The meeting also examined the recommendations made by the Regional Negotiating Forum on the Scope, Form and Structure of the meeting; and
(iii) the Second Joint ESA-EC Ministerial Meeting which was co-chaired by Commissioner Mandelson for the EU and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Trade & Cooperation for the ESA group, took stock of the progress achieved with regard to EPA Negotiations and inter alia agreed to speed up the pace of the Negotiations.
16.In line with Government’s policy to consolidate further regional cooperation, Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the visit of the Minister of Agro Industry & Fisheries to Madagascar in the context of the Cross Border Investment Project Workshop held in Antananarivo from 24 to 27 January 2006. The Cross Border Investment Project aims at promoting intra-regional private sector investment in agriculture through the creation of a healthy investment environment. In the margin of the Workshop, the Minister of Agro Industry & Fisheries seized this opportunity to discuss with Mr Jacques Sylla, Prime Minister and Head of Government, Mr Roger Rafanomezantsoa, Minister of Industrialisation, Commerce and Development of the Private Sector and the Minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, issues of common interest to both countries particularly how best Mauritius can participate in a significant manner in the development of the agro-industrial and agro-business sector and contribute to quality improvement for the export market.
As a result of the Workshop, feasibility studies on the following four proposals of interest to Mauritian Entrepreneurs will be carried out by FAO:
(i) Livestock farms and importation of cattle;
(ii) cultivation of maize for export to Mauritius;
(iii) production of ware potatoes and seed potatoes; and
(iv) processing and export of fruits from Madagascar.
17.Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the participation of the Minister of Social Security, National Solidarity and Senior Citizens Welfare & Reform Institutions in the Seventh Session of the United Nations Ad Hoc Committee on a Comprehensive and Integral International Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities from 30 January to 3 February 2006 in New York. The purpose of the Committee was to prepare a draft International Convention for eliminating discrimination against persons with disabilities in areas like health, education, training and employment.
During her visit, the Minister also held discussions with a number of important personalities involved in the upliftment of the welfare of persons with disabilities, as well as with those dealing with the promotion of the quality of life of the elderly in order to explore areas of cooperation of mutual interest.
With a view to creating greater awareness on the forthcoming International Convention on the protection and the promotion of the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities, a National Steering Committee, with the Minister of Social Security, National Solidarity, and Senior Citizens Welfare & Reform Institutions as chairperson and comprising relevant ministries and institutions, will be set up.
18.Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the mission of the Minister of Health & Quality of Life to Kenya from 6 to 10 February, 2006, where he attended the 42nd Regional Health Ministers Conference. Technical and socio medical matters common to countries of the East, Central and Southern African Health Community were discussed. The theme for the 42nd Conference was "Scaling up Best practices in Health Care in East, Central and Southern Africa". During the meeting, Mauritius was commended for its management of medical statistics and was listed as the only country out of 46 African countries, which has reliable statistics which can be scientifically used. In the margin of the meeting the Minister of Health & Quality of Life met Dr S.V. Shongwe, the Executive Director of ECSA Health Community, who agreed to –
(a) earmark an expert on Chikungunya to provide technical assistance to Mauritius;
(b) identify an expert to assist Mauritius in the drafting of legislation pertaining to in-Vitro Fertilization; and
(c) identify an expert in Substance Abuse to advise Mauritius on the introduction of Methadone in the detoxification programme.
19.Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the mission of the Minister of Information Technology & Telecommunications to India from 23 January to 1 February 2006 where he attended the Graduation Ceremony of Mauritian students at Infosys, Mysore, and held investment promotion meetings in Bangalore and Mumbai with leading Indian IT companies together with the representative of the Board of Investment (BOI), Mumbai Office. During his meeting with the IT companies, the Minister advocated a customized approach and invited the companies to take full advantage of facilities and incentives available in Mauritius, in particular regarding Mauritius as a gateway for the African and francophone markets. A number of Indian companies, namely Tata Consultancy Services Ltd., WIPRO Ltd., Hinduja TMT Ltd., have shown keen interest to set up business in Mauritius and create employment opportunities for Mauritians in the sector. In this respect, the Board of Investment has been requested to follow up closely on the proposals of these companies.
20.Cabinet has taken note that Mauritius will participate in nine sports disciplines, namely athletics, badminton, boxing, cycling, squash, swimming, table tennis, triathlon, weightlifting and in activities for elite athletes with disability at the XVII Commonwealth Games to be held in Melbourne from 15 to 26 March 2006.
21.Cabinet has taken note of the recommendations made in respect of the tombstones and bones discovered n the site of the Hawkers' Palace at La Poudrière Street, Port Louis, namely:
(i) the tombstone of Père Gabriel IGOU, one of the first two priests to arrive in Isle de France and the first "Curé" of Cathédrale St Louis, being designated national heritage and handed over to the Diocèse de Port Louis which proposes to place it in the yard of Cathédrale St. Louis;
(ii) Prof A. Morris, Forensic Archaelogist from the Faculty of Medicine in Cape Town, who will visit Mauritius around 27 February 2006, being requested to examine the remains and advise on the scientific tests to be carried out; and
(iii) the production of a short publication on the site where was formerly situated the “Cimetière de l'Enfoncement” and which is the first cemetery of Port Louis. The publication would be distributed inter alia to schools, tourist operators and local visitors.