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Prime Minister's Office>Cabinet Decisions taken on 17 November 2006

Cabinet Decisions taken on 17 November 2006

1. Cabinet has taken note of developments regarding the implementation of the housing project for the construction of 533 Firinga type housing units at Chebel, Henrietta, Ballisson (Rose Belle), Rivière des Anguilles, Ville Noire and Bambous. Construction works for a first lot of 233 housing units started on 19 October 2006 and are expected to be completed by January 2008.

2. Cabinet has agreed to the introduction into the National Assembly of the Fishermen Investment Trust Bill which provides for the establishment of a Fishermen Investment Trust, which would, inter alia, invest in fishing, fish processing, fish marketing and other related activities having regard to interests of fishermen.
The Trust which would be managed by a Board comprising representatives of fishermen, would be endowed with the necessary powers to purchase vessels and equipment, to grant loans or other assistance to fishermen and their families and to improve their entrepreneurial skills.
The Trust would have an authorized share capital of Rs 65 million and Government would subscribe 1.5 million shares of Rs 10 each, which would, subsequently, be transferred to about 5,000 registered fishermen of Mauritius and Rodrigues, each fisherman thus having 300 shares.

3. Cabinet has agreed to the introduction into the National Assembly of the Sugar Industry Efficiency (Amendment) Bill which provides for -
(a) the pro-poor dimension of the Multi-Annual Adaptation Strategy Plan 2006 – 2015, inter alia, -
(i) lowering the age limit for VRS, agricultural and non-agricultural workers, from 50 to 45 years for women and from 55 to 50 years for men to benefit from cash compensation equivalent to two months per year of service;
(ii) increasing the compensation payable to all other categories of VRS employees who would henceforth be entitled to 1.5 months per year of service, irrespective of their length of service;
(iii) the possibility for workers having already voluntarily retired under the VRS introduced in 2001 to benefit from an earlier receipt of Actuarially Reduced Contributory Retirement Pension, namely from 50 to 45 years for women and from 55 to 50 years for men;
(b) the reduction in costs of production of sugar through greater flexibility in the use of seasonal labour;
(c) funds to be used for approved cross border projects; and
(d) the establishment and operations of entities (sugar cane sub-clusters) engaged in sugar sector diversification activities and modernization process.

4. Cabinet has taken note of the preliminary findings of a study carried out on discriminatory provisions existing in our national legislation with the ultimate objective of harmonising all laws with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention No. 111 on Discrimination (Employment and Occupation).
The study reveals that some 40 pieces of legislation, including Remuneration Orders, the Criminal Code and the Civil Code, contain discriminatory features and have to be reviewed. A one-day consultative workshop would be held on 22 November 2006 to discuss the findings with all stakeholders.
The ILO Convention No. 111 on Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) advocates the elimination of discrimination in employment and occupation and defines “discrimination” as any distinction, exclusion or preference based on race, colour, sex, religion, political opinion, national extraction or social origin. Its scope covers access to vocational training, access to employment and to particular occupations, and terms and conditions of employment.

5. Cabinet has reviewed pollution problems at Petit Camp, Valentina and taken note of remedial actions taken by the Ministry of Environment & National Development Unit and the industries in the Valentina Industrial Zone.
The Ministry of Environment & National Development Unit is regularly measuring the ambient air quality in the Valentina region through a mobile ambient air monitoring station which has been placed in the residential area. Regular meetings would, also, be held to review progress and appropriate decisions would be taken as warranted.
Cabinet has also agreed to the Ministry of Health and Quality of Life making arrangements for the medical examination of the inhabitants of Valentina on a regular basis by the Caravane de Santé.

6. Cabinet has taken note that during the period July 2005 to October 2006 –
(a) 3,104 SME Certificates had been issued;
(b) 1,715 new Small and Handicraft Enterprises had been set up; and
(c) 13,773 potential entrepreneurs/visitors had called at SEHDA for information/registration purposes.

7. Cabinet has taken note of preliminary statistics on the performance of the EPZ Sector which indicate that for the period July to September 2006 EPZ exports has increased from Rs7.19bn in July-September 2005 to Rs8.62bn in the same period in 2006, i.e., by 19.8%.

8. Cabinet has taken note that the Ministry of Agro Industry & Fisheries would submit the Ethanol Development Strategy (EDS) for Mauritius 2006 – 2015 to the European Commission as a requirement of the pre-condition on the energy component of the
Multi-Annual Adaptation Strategy Action Plan 2006-2015.
The policy package being proposed for ethanol development strikes a delicate balance between national interest, regionalism, the obligation to comply with the pre-condition of the Financing Proposal of the Accompanying Measures, the need to ensure that the sugar sector through the sub-clusters remains viable and sustainable in the long term, the essential protection and preservation of the environment, and the necessity to optimise the synergies between stakeholders of the sugar industry through inter alia equity participation. Ethanol and bagasse electricity development and the large scale sale of value-added sugars are expected to significantly reduce the level of foreign exchange losses as a result of the reform of the EU Sugar Regime.

9. Cabinet has taken note of the proposed collaborative agreement between the Government of Mauritius, represented by the National Parks and Conservation Service, the Mauritius Herbarium (MSIRI), and the Kew Gardens of the United Kingdom regarding the project “ex-situ conservation of the rare and threatened plants of Mauritius.”
The objects of the Agreement are to -
(i) ensure the effective sharing of resources and skills among the parties;
(ii) enable Mauritius to meet Target 8 of the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation (Convention on Biological Diversity) which states that ‘60% of threatened plant species in accessible ex-situ collections, preferably in the country of origin’;
(iii) seed-bank 300 native species over three years in a national ex situ seed storage facility in Mauritius, this collection to be duplicated at Kew’s Millenium Seed Bank, UK;
(iv) study germination constraints of the rarest species to aid their recovery programmes; and
(v) increase the number of people trained in plant conservation techniques in Mauritius in order to achieve Convention on Biological Diversity targets, amongst others.

10. Cabinet has agreed to the Draft Tourism Bill being released as a Working Document to tourist industry stakeholders and to the general public for their views and comments.
The objects of the Bill are to –
(a) repeal and replace the existing law relating to the carrying on and operation of tourist enterprises and pleasure crafts;
(b) better regulate the licensing and operation of tourist enterprises, the registration and licensing of pleasure crafts, as well as the licensing of canvassers and skippers; and
(c) make provisions relating to pleasure craft wrecks.

11. Cabinet has taken note of activities organised by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) to mark the 2006 African Statistics Day, viz. –
(i) an exhibition to raise awareness on the activities of the CSO;
(ii) an IT corner to familiarise visitors with the website of the CSO; and
(iii) continuous screening of a 30-minute film “Measuring the Change in World Poverty” prepared by the Secretariat of Partnership in Statistics for Development in the 21st Century.
The African Statistics Day aims at raising awareness of the importance of statistics in the economic and social development of Africa. The event, which is celebrated every year on 18 November, was initiated by a former subsidiary body of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, the Joint African Conference of Planners, Statisticians and Demographers.

12. Cabinet has taken note of the programme of activities to be organized by the Ministry of Women's Rights, Child Development, Family Welfare & Consumer Protection to mark the Universal Children’s Day on 20 November. In that context, a day of activities would be organised at Le Waterpark & Leisure Village for some 600 deprived children in the age bracket of 8 to 15 years who would be given the opportunity to enjoy the various leisure facilities offered there.

13. Cabinet has taken note of activities to be organized by the Ministry of Women's Rights, Child Development, Family Welfare & Consumer Protection to commemorate the International Day Against Violence Against Women on 25 November 2006, viz. -
(a) a Symposium on Domestic Violence;
(b) launching of an On-line Psychologist corner;
(c) launching of Family Counselling and Support Services at the Central Prisons, Beau Bassin; and
(d) intensification of Information, Education and Communication (IEC) Campaigns on domestic violence. Two pamphlets would be launched on that occasion.
The United Nations General Assembly decided, in 1993, that violence against women is a violation of the rights and freedom of women and called on individual countries and the international community to work on its elimination. Recognising the need to step-up efforts in the combat against violence against women, the United Nations General Assembly, in 1999, declared 25 November as the International Day Against Violence Against Women.
As declared by the United Nations, the theme for this year is “Advance Human Rights – End Violence Against Women” which endeavours to strengthen the understanding that advance human rights and end violence against women are mutually reinforcing.

14. To mark the celebration of the Computer Security Day on 30 November, Cabinet has taken note that the Ministry of Information Technology & Telecommunications, in collaboration with the ICTA and the NCB, would organise the following activities at national level:
(a) a seminar and workshops targeting IT Professionals from the public and private sectors and a round table on Information Security;
(b) publication of posters for end-users, based on the poster published by the Association for Computer Security; and
(c) the Cyber Caravan of the NCB would dispense "Information Security" courses during that period.
The theme for this year’s event is “Working Together”. The underlying paradigm is that everyone should partake in the protection of computer and information security.

15. Cabinet has taken note that the new market of Cité Gabriel Martial, to be inaugurated on 20 November 2006, will be named after late Mr Ibrahim Abdoollah who has during his lifetime, played an active role in the social, sports and religious development of Plaine Verte.

16. Cabinet has taken note of amendments made to the Distributive Trades (Remuneration Order) Regulations 2004 to liberalise the opening hours of shops in line with measures announced in Budget Speech 2005 – 2006 and the provisions of the Finance Act 2005.
The Regulations provide for the employment of workers at any time of the day subject, however, to a maximum of 6 days per week and 4 hours of overtime per day, as well as, at least two Sundays off per month.
Cabinet has further taken note that the Regulations would, also, provide for -
(i) the grant to a female worker of 2 weeks' leave on full pay for a still-birth not drawn from her entitlement to three confinements, in line with all other Remuneration Order Regulations; and
(ii) the payment of end-of-year bonus to employees who take employment during the course of the year to be based on the number of normal days' work equivalent to not less than "80 per cent of the working days during his employment in that year" instead of "80 per cent of the working days in that year."

17. Cabinet has taken note that the Maritime Labour Convention 2006, adopted at the International Labour Conference (ILC) in February 2006, together with an explanatory memorandum, would be shortly tabled in the National Assembly.
The Maritime Labour Convention sets out the basic rights of seafarers to decent employment and puts an obligation on every Member State ratifying the Convention to ensure that its laws are in compliance with the fundamental rights to -
(a) freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining;
(b) the elimination of all forms of forced or compulsory labour;
(c) the effective abolition of child labour; and
(d) the elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation.
Furthermore, the Convention advocates that every seafarer has –
(a) the right to a safe and secure workplace that complies with safety standards;
(b) a right to fair terms of employment;
(c) a right to decent working and living conditions on board ship; and
(d) a right to health protection, medical care, welfare measures and other forms of social protection.

18. Cabinet has taken note–
(a) that the Licensing of Recruiting Agents for Overseas Educational and Training Institutions Act 2006 would be proclaimed on 1 December 2006. The Act safeguards the interests of students dealing with recruiting agents and individuals canvassing them for studies abroad and also protecting them from bogus institutions and qualifications.
(b) of the promulgation of the Licensing of Recruiting Agents for Overseas Educational and Training Institutions (Applications for Licence) Regulations 2006 which provide for the issue of a licence by the Ministry of Education & Human Resources to persons/bodies engaged in the business of recruiting students for overseas post-secondary educational and training institutions against payment of a prescribed fee.

19. Cabinet has taken note that the Colloque of the "Association des Juristes de l’Ocean Indien (AJOI)" on ‘Le Procès Equitable’ would be held from 23 to 25 November 2006 at the Legends Hotel in Grand Gaube. The AJOI is a non-profit making organisation which aims at promoting and encouraging inter-islands exchange on legal issues. The Colloque would be attended by about 80 participants from Reunion Island, Madagascar, the Comoros and Mauritius, as well as by eminent jurists, including Mr Eduardo Chiziane, "Doyen de la Faculté de Droit de Beira, Université Edouardo Mondlane", Mozambique.

20. Cabinet has taken note of arrangements made by the Cyclone and Other Natural Disasters Committee for the forthcoming cyclone season, inter alia, –
(a) the mounting of a sensitization campaign to raise awareness on measures to be taken before, during and after the passage of a cyclone; and
(b) a review of flood prone areas by the Ministry of Local Government, in collaboration with local authorities.
Cabinet has, further, taken note of the list of Cyclone Refugee Centres, and that a Committee under the chairmanship of the Director of Meteorological Services has been set up to work out a scheme on precautionary measures to be taken in cases of landslides.

21. Cabinet has taken note that the NTA would no longer register or licence any vehicle whose chassis number has been erased or tampered with in order to avoid fraudulent practices, including the registration of stolen vehicles.

22. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of a workshop on Cognitive Behaviour Therapy conducted by Dr Frank Ryan, an eminent Consultant Clinical Psychologist and Chair-elect of the Addiction Faculty of the British Psychological Society, for the benefit of Medical Practitioners, Nursing Officers and Social Workers from NGOs involved in the field of substance abuse prevention.
The Workshop brainstormed on behaviour of individuals prior to abusing substances, their behavioural changes during the addiction period and the behaviour patterns during the post-addiction period.
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy is a relatively new treatment in the field of Clinical Psychology and combines cognitive therapy and behavioural therapy. It is structured, goal-oriented and focused on the immediate problems faced by drug abusers who enter treatment and struggle to control their drug usage. It has the advantage of adopting a flexible, individualized approach that can be adapted to a wide range of patients as well as a variety of settings and formats.

23. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the mission of the Minister of Environment & National Development Unit to India where he participated in the Eighteenth Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer held in New Delhi from 2 to 3 November 2006.
The meeting reflected on the critical-use nominations for methyl bromide, difficulty faced by developing countries in transiting to metered dose inhalers which are free from Chlorofluorocarbons and on non-compliance and future challenges facing parties in protecting the ozone layer.
Reports by three assessment panels under the Protocol revealed, inter alia, that -
(a) the levels of ozone depleting chlorine and bromine in the atmosphere had peaked in the early 1990’s and were declining as expected in line with decreasing ozone depleting substances production proving that the Montreal Protocol was working;
(b) higher levels of ultra violet rays led to a rise in the incidence of cataracts and inflammatory growths of the cornea, skin cancer and immuno-suppression; and
(c) aquatic ecosystems were similarly affected with potential negative impacts on biomass productivity throughout the food web.

24. Cabinet has taken note of the official visit of the Minister of Youth & Sports to the People's Republic of China from 6 to 12 November 2006.
The purpose of the visit was to strengthen cooperation between China and Mauritius in the field of sports and to discuss with relevant Chinese Sports Officials and Federations proposals for exchange programmes and training opportunities in China for our athletes and coaches in certain sports disciplines, especially in the context of our preparation for participation in regional and international sports competitions, such as the Indian Ocean Island Games in Madagascar in 2007 and the Olympic Games in Beijing in 2008.