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Prime Minister's Office>Cabinet Decisions taken on 26 May 2006

Cabinet Decisions taken on 26 May 2006

1. In line with Government policy to promote the integration of the vulnerable groups in the mainstream of development and foster inclusion, Cabinet has taken note of action being initiated by the Ministry of Housing and Lands to sell the State lands on which stand the Ex-CHA Houses to their owners. It is noted that some 19,000 such State land owners would benefit from this project.

2. Following Government’s commitment to mobilize the potential productivity of the people in economically vulnerable regions by encouraging them to create micro-enterprises, Cabinet has agreed to the launching of a pilot project in Plaine Magnien and Rivière du Rempart to encourage job-seekers and laid-off workers in the area and the nearby regions to become entrepreneurs at micro-enterprise level and eventually at small and medium enterprise level. The pilot project would be implemented by the respective Citizens Advice Bureaux, in collaboration with the Small Enterprises and Handicraft Development Authority as well as other relevant institutions, with a view to providing every possible assistance and also to relieve the potential entrepreneurs of the need to cope with the many hassles that they normally undergo. A committee would be set up to monitor the implementation of the project, evaluate progress and take corrective measures where necessary. Once the pilot project achieves its objective, this would be replicated in other regions of the island.

3. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the 6th Round of Negotiations on the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation and Partnership Agreement between Mauritius and India held in Mauritius from 15 to 17 May 2006. During the meeting, the focus of the discussions was inter alia on trade in goods, in particular the preferential trade area. With regard to economic cooperation between the two countries, a number of sectors/areas were identified for indepth discussions at the next meeting, including -
(i) India-Mauritius Infrastructure and Development Fund;
(ii) Marine and Sea Food Industry;
(iii) Industrial Cooperation;
(iv) Small and Medium Enterprises ;
(v) Health;
(vi) Knowledge Hub/Centre of Excellence; and
(vii) ICT.
The next round of talks would be held in the second fortnight of June 2006.

4. In line with Government’s programme to speed up the implementation of the recommendations made in the report of the Presidential Commission set up in 1997 to examine and report upon the structure and operation of the Judicial System and Legal Provisions of Mauritius, Cabinet has taken note that Sir Hamid Moollan, Q.C. who was a member of the Commission, has volunteered to offer his services, free of charge, to assist the Attorney General’s Office in the implementation of the recommendations contained in the Mackay Report. Lord Mackay of Clashfern, who chaired the Presidential Commission, would be in Mauritius to provide his services, free of charge, in the implementation of the Report.

5. Cabinet has agreed to the introduction into the National Assembly of the
Co-operatives (Amendment) Bill with a view to eliminating a number of loopholes and practical impediments identified during the implementation of the Co-operatives Act. The Bill provides, inter alia, for –
(a) the registration of a cooperative society with either limited or unlimited liability;
(b) the non-eligibility of the internal controller of a cooperative society to be a Director of the Board; and
(c) the appointment of a Liquidator by the Registrar of Cooperatives in such cases as he may deem fit.

6. Taking into account the ongoing reforms in the judicial system, the increasing number of both criminal and civil cases in all the Courts and the imperative need for accountability at all levels, Cabinet has agreed to the introduction into the National Assembly of the Ushers (Amendment) Bill, which aims at amending the Ushers Act in order to provide for the new qualifications for appointment to the grade of Usher and for the restyling of the Usher Cadre in accordance with the recommendations of the Pay Research Bureau Report of 2003.

7. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the Technical Workshop on Work Time in Mauritius which was organised by the Ministry of Labour, Industrial Relations & Employment, in collaboration with the International Labour Organisation, to provide representatives of workers’ and employers’ organisations, civil society and Government, the opportunity to discuss and express their views on the findings of the study undertaken initially by the “Centre for Applied Social Research” on work and family in Mauritius.
Cabinet has further taken note that participants at the workshop –
(i) identified the main constraints for the introduction of flexible working time, viz., the absence of relevant provisions in the labour legislation, mistrust between employers and employees, a rigid mindset and attitude and the perception of workers of a possible decrease in their pay packet resulting from a reduction in overtime;
(ii) recommended inter alia the review of labour legislation to enable the introduction of flexible working time patterns, sensitisation of social partners on this concept, improvement of the transport system at national level as well as the provision of transport facilities at enterprise level and the decentralisation of working places from Port Louis; and
(iii) proposed that a tripartite technical committee be set up to ensure the proper implementation of the recommendations contained in the report.

8. In order to give a new impetus to processes of intra-regional integration, Cabinet has agreed to Government signing the Agreement establishing the PTA Re-Insurance company, subject to Article 19 of the Agreement regarding the compulsory cession by insurance companies of a minimum of 10% of their reinsurance business to the organisation, not being applicable to Mauritius. The objectives of the company, which was launched in 1992 by COMESA, aim at:
(i) fostering the development of the insurance and re-insurance industry of the COMESA sub-region;
(ii) promoting the growth of national, sub-regional and regional underwriting and retention capacity; and
(iii) supporting sub-regional economic development.
Cabinet has also agreed to increase Government's contribution to the equity of the PTA Re-Insurance company.

9. In the context of the World Environment Day, celebrated on 5 June every year, Cabinet has taken note that the Ministry of Environment & National Development Unit would organize a series of activities around the theme chosen by the United Nations Environment Programme, i.e., "Deserts and Drylands – Don’t Desert Drylands", to emphasize the importance of protecting drylands, currently covering more than 40% of the planet’s surface. The main event would be a mass sensitization campaign under the slogan "Plant a Million Trees" so as to sensitize the population of the importance of our ecosystem for the preservation of life as well as on the need to protect the few remaining natural areas in Mauritius.

10. Cabinet has taken note that the Ministry of Arts and Culture, in collaboration with the Ministry of Youth & Sports and the Dragon and Lion Dance Federation, would hold on Sunday 28 May 2006 at Le Caudan, Port Louis, the third Dragon Boat Festival grouping some hundred participants. The Festival, besides boat racing, would also include –
(i) a Défilé of participants of the Festival from Esplanade Prof. B. Bissoondoyal to Le Caudan Waterfront;
(ii) a Cultural item presented by the China Cultural Centre; and
(iii) a Dragon Dance.

11. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the recent mission of the Minister of Environment & National Development Unit to the 14th Session of the Commission on Sustainable Development held at the Headquarters of the United Nations in New York. The aim of the meeting was inter alia to review progress in –
(i) energy for sustainable development;
(ii) industrial development;
(iii) air pollution/atmosphere; and
(iv) climate change.
The session also dedicated one day to discussions on Small Island Developing States (SIDS), the objects of which were to –
(a) review the implementation of the Mauritius strategy in respect of the thematic cluster; and
(b) discuss the negative impacts of climate change and the need to implement adaptation measures as a priority as well as the need for developed countries to meet their emission reduction requirements under the Kyoto Protocol.

12. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the recent mission of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Trade & Cooperation to the Ministerial Conference of Francophonie on Conflict Prevention and Human Security which was held in Saint Boniface, Manitoba, Canada. The objectives of the Conference were to examine how Francophonie could play a more important role in the prevention of conflicts and also to promote the contribution of Francophone states in discussions of the international community on human security. The Ministerial Conference considered and adopted the Declaration de Saint Boniface which inter-alia underlines –
(i) the responsibility of States to protect civilian populations, and the importance of preventive diplomacy;
(ii) the participation of Francophone countries in peacekeeping missions and initiatives aimed at preventing the illegal exploitation and exports of natural resources coming from conflict areas; and
(iii) the role of education and media in developing a culture of peace and democracy.
In the margins of the Saint Boniface Conference, the Minister had, inter alia, bilateral meetings with several of his counterparts, including H E Mrs Monique Gagnon-Tremblay, Ministre des Relations Internationales et Ministre responsable de la Francophonie du Québec with whom avenues of cooperation in the fields of education and information technology were discussed.

13. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the recent mission of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Trade & Cooperation to Rwanda where he participated in the 21st Council of Minister's Meeting of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA). The objectives of the meeting were inter alia to discuss –
(i) trade issues, including the consolidation of the Free Trade Area as a matter of priority, as well as intra-COMESA trade developments;
(ii) transport and communications, as well as the modalities for establishing a COMESA Shipping Line;
(iii) a draft model energy policy with a view to facilitating the achievement of a positive change in energy systems that would meet the energy needs of the population for social and economic development in a sustainable manner; and
(iv) the COMESA agricultural strategic framework emphasizing, among others, the expansion of agricultural markets.

14. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the following recent meetings attended by the Minister of Education & Human Resources:
(a) Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA) Biennial Meeting held in Libreville during which the Association:
(i) recognized that all individuals are educable and recommended that early childhood development, literacy training and other forms of non-formal education be included in the normal school cycle;
(ii) called for appropriate training of teachers and encouraged the use and promotion of national languages;
(iii) agreed on the need for education policy to be linked to national development plans; and
(b) the 174th Executive Board Meeting of UNESCO organized in Paris during which discussions were held on the general policy and direction on matters pertaining to the administration and management of UNESCO, education, natural sciences, social and human sciences, culture, and communication and information.