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Prime Minister's Office>Cabinet Decisions taken on 31 March 2006

Cabinet Decisions taken on 31 March 2006

1. With a view to translating Government’s vision as announced by the Prime Minister in his message to the nation on Independence Day for “providing universal ICT education to every student, every employee and non-employee in four years”, Cabinet has agreed to the implementation of the action plan put in place following consultations with Dr Appu Kuttan, Founder, Chairman and CEO of the National Education Foundation for Cyberlearning and an internationally recognized Expert in ICT education.
The Plan provides for the training of a total of 400,000 persons over a period of four years in the internationally-recognized internet and Computer Core Certification (IC3) which would be the official certification for digital literacy in Mauritius. This programme would create a significant pool of ICT professionals with internationally-recognized ICT certification, and which, in turn, would attract employers interested in using Mauritius as an ICT bridge between India and Africa and between India and French-speaking countries.
2. In the effort to build a people-oriented, inclusive and development-oriented Information Society, and taking into consideration that Information and Communication are the core of human progress, Cabinet has agreed to computers and broadband Internet facilities being installed in the 93 Post Offices across Mauritius for access by the community at large under the Community Empowerment Programme initiated by the Ministry of Information Technology & Telecommunications. The project, which is expected to be fully operational before September 2006, will ensure that the benefit of the new information and communication technologies are made available to all by the year 2015, in line with the Millenium Development Goal (MDG) Declaration adopted by the UN General Assembly in September 2000 in New York. Broadband Internet access would be made free of charge for senior citizens, unemployed, handicapped persons and orphans.
3. With a view to reducing dependence on the use of gas oil and to preserving the environment by reducing the effect of gas oil on the ozone layer, Cabinet has agreed to a pilot project for the testing of Biodiesel in diesel engines. Biodiesel is a clean burning alternative fuel produced from soyabeans, sunflowers, palm oil, etc. During his visit, Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam President of India, mentioned, in one of his speeches, about the advisability of using 'Jatropha' (pignon d'inde) to produce biodiesel. It is expected that in the long run, biodiesel could completely substitute petroleum diesel. In this respect, a Monitoring Committee has been set up to follow through the project with a view to inter alia identifying the practical difficulties and proposing solutions thereto.
4. Taking into consideration the oncoming challenges in the sugar sector, more specifically with the 36% cut in the price of sugar as from 2009, and the need to take comprehensive, effective, and early response to better safeguard the interests of all the stakeholders in the industry and of the country at large, Cabinet has agreed to the proposed closure of St Felix as from the end of the 2005 crop, subject to the approved conditions in respect of the employees and the planters as well as to the other relevant conditions of the Blue Print and to the establishment of the Savannah sugar cluster being realized before 2009.
5. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the bilateral air services talks held in Beijing on 20 and 21 March 2006 between the Chinese and the Mauritian delegations and also of the signature of a Memorandum of Understanding, inter alia providing for the existing route schedule being replaced by a more flexible one providing the Mauritian side with any number of points of access in China. The designated airlines of each party shall have the right to operate up to 14 weekly frequencies for passengers, combination of passenger and cargo or for all cargo services without restriction on aircraft type, except A380, on the specified routes between the two countries. The MoU also provides that both parties shall exercise the fifth freedom traffic rights at two intermediate points with up to seven weekly frequencies for passenger, combination of passenger and cargo or all cargo services.
Cabinet has also taken note that the South African Authorities have designated COMAIR, a British Airways franchise, as the second air carrier on the South Africa/Mauritius route. COMAIR would start its operation in July 2006 on the basis of three weekly flights using a B737 type aircraft, with special flights starting as from Saturday 1 April 2006.
6. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the participation of the Mauritian delegation, led by the Minister of Youth & Sports, in the XVIII Commonwealth Games held in Melbourne and also of the outstanding performance of the Mauritian athletes, namely Stephen Buckland, Giovanni Frontin and Bruno Julie.
In margin to the Games, the Minister of Youth & Sports –
(i) attended the Commonwealth Sports Ministers’ Meeting where discussions were held mainly on the three key issues of the Athens Action Plan relating to women in sport, capacity to host major sports events and Anti-doping; and
(ii) visited the Swimming Victoria Complex at Albert Park and also the Chisholm Institute, one of Australia’s leading educational and vocational training institutions comprising a Sports and Recreation Department, and had discussions with the relevant officials of these two institutions who agreed to provide their collaboration to Mauritius with regard to training of swimming coaches and sharing of experience in the management of swimming infrastructural facilities.
7. In order to pay tribute to the achievements and contributions of Sir Abdool Razack Mohamed in the accession of Mauritius to independence and the making of our Nation, Cabinet has agreed to the 100th Birth Anniversary of Sir Abdool Razack Mohamed being celebrated at national level and to an Organising Committee being set up under the chairmanship of Mr Mohamad A. Vayid, C.M.G., to plan and put up various activities to mark the event at national level. Sir Razack played a prominent role in the political life of Mauritius for almost three decades and participated actively in the constitutional talks in London in 1965. He also contributed significantly to the educational, economic, social and cultural advancement of the Mauritian community.
8. As the existing regulations relating to the control and monitoring of pleasure crafts do not reflect the operational reality of nautical activities, Cabinet has agreed to the Pleasure Craft (Licence Fees) Regulations 1994 being repealed and replaced by the Tourism (Issue of Pleasure Craft Licence) Regulations, which will provide the Tourism Authority with more appropriate tools to improve safety and security on board a pleasure craft and also to bring the control and monitoring of nautical activities to the required level of safety and security.
9.Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the International Seafood Conference held from 2 to 3 March 2006 in Mauritius, the aims of which were to promoting Mauritius Seafood Hub as a platform providing logistics and commercial support for fisheries sector, with particular focus on value added seafood activities and also to attract a broad band of potential investors to Mauritius. The Conference has proved to be successful and fruitful on all fronts as the objective of placing Mauritius as a business platform for seafood activities on the world arena has been achieved inasmuch as a number of business contacts between Mauritian and overseas companies have been established for joint ventures in the seafood business. In addition, the Ministry of Agro Industry & Fisheries has signed a letter of Agreement with the Hellenic Center for Marine Research – ELKETHE, the Hellenic Fisheries Development Agency – ETANAL and the Federation of Greek Aquaculture for the implementation of the fisheries and aquaculture development projects in Mauritius.
10.Cabinet has taken note of the decision of the African Union to declare 2007 as the International year of African Football in recognition to the invaluable contribution of the Confederation of African Football to the development of football in the continent while protecting the interests of Africa in the international arena. In this context, the Ministry of Youth & Sports will extend necessary support to the Mauritius Football Association for the celebration of this event.
11. Cabinet has taken note of the recent mission of the Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Tourism, Leisure & External Communications to Germany in the context of the International Tourism Exchange Fair which is the world’s leading trade fair for the global tourism industry with more than 10,000 exhibitors from 183 countries and 162,000 visitors as well as 7,000 media.
At the Fair, Mauritius was awarded the “Golf Destination of the year (Worldwide)” by the German gold magazine 'Rheingolf'. The 'Rheingolf' Awards are assigned by golf clubs, resorts hotels and regions for special achievements. In addition, the Mauritius stand, which was designed in an innovative way combined with typical Mauritius colonial elements, was selected as the best stand in its category.
The fair provided an immense opportunity to enhance the visibility of Mauritius on the global scene in general and in Germany, in particular, and at the same time enabled a better understanding of the requirement of the market.
In the margins of the fair, the Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Tourism, Leisure and External Communications -
(i) participated in several important meetings with professionals from the tourism industry and gave a large number of interviews to leading German TV and radio channels; and
(ii) had meeting with a leading German tour operator, TUI, which was planning
to double the number of Germans travelling with TUI to Mauritius by joint marketing activities over the next 12 months. TUI has made a grant of 20,000 Euros for the development and renovation of La Citadelle.
12. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the recent mission of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Trade & Cooperation to Madagascar where he attended the 22nd session of the Council of Ministers of the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC), which inter alia -
(i) took note of the implementation of the project relating to the surveillance and control of fishing activities and the protection of marine parks and considered other projects relating to the Marine Highway and Coastal and Marine Contamination Prevention Project in the field of oil spill combat; and
(ii) decided that further discussions with other international organisations, including the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other financing agencies, be held with a view to reinforcing all measures in the area of “surveillance épidémiologie régionale“.
In addition, at the meeting a Convention on regional security was signed by the Ministers of the IOC to reinforce co-operation and to counter international criminal activities such as terrorism, transnational and organised crimes.
In the margins of the Council meeting, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Trade & Cooperation had bilateral talks with –
(i) the Malagasy Minister of "Agriculture, de l'Elevage et de la Pêche, with whom he reviewed the areas of co-operation in the field of Agriculture and Fisheries; and
(ii) the Malagasy Minister of Industrialisation, Commerce and the Development of the Private Sector, on the need to operationalise the Framework Agreement and the IPPA once these are ratified by the Malagasy Assembly.
13. Cabinet has taken note that the next SADC Consultative Conference in Namibia would be held in April 2006. The Consultative Conference, a biennial event bringing together SADC Member States and its international cooperating partners, aims at providing :-
(i) a platform for SADC and International Cooperating Partners to engage in policy dialogue, mobilize consensus and review cooperation arrangements in the context of a new partnership for the implementation of the Regional Indicative Strategic Plan and the Strategic Indicative Plan of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security; and
(ii) an opportunity for International Cooperating Partners to consult with each other and exchange ideas on strategies and other common approaches that will enable them to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of development assistance to SADC.
The Consultative Conference which will be followed by the inaugural ministerial session of SADC-India Forum, will focus inter alia on Agriculture, Promotion of small and medium scale industries and entrepreneurial development; Drugs and pharmaceuticals; Human Resources Development; Water Resources Development and ICT.
14. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the participation of the Minister of Public Utilities in the World Water Forum held in Mexico City, on 21 and 22 March 2006 which inter alia reaffirmed the critical importance of water, in particular freshwater, for all aspects on sustainable development, including poverty and hunger eradication and also underlined the need to include water and sanitation as priorities in national processes, in particular national sustainable development and poverty reduction strategies. At the Forum, the Mauritian delegation was selected to participate in one of the six thematic roundtables, namely on the theme of “Financing Local Water and Sanitation Initiatives” which focussed inter alia on the means to mobilise additional financial resources at the community level, and also ways and means for Governments to create a proper environment for increased financing of the water sector.
15. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the visit of the Minister of Women's Rights, Child Development, Family Welfare & Consumer Protection to Rodrigues in the context of the International Women’s Day, during which a number of activities were organised in collaboration with the Rodrigues Regional Assembly. The Minister of Women's Rights, Child Development, Family Welfare & Consumer Protection inter alia:
(i) had discussion with members of the “Forum des Femmes Entrepreneurs de Rodrigues” and the “Entreprendre au Feminin de L'Ocean Indien,” including possibilities for training, and exchange programmes with Mauritian women entrepreneurs;
(ii) had working sessions with the Chief Commissioner, and the Commissioner for Arts and Culture, Women’s Affairs, Child Development, Family Welfare, Alleviation of Poverty, Community Development & Library Services, as well as the Executive Members of the Rodrigues Regional Committee; and
(iii) attended the launching of the sensitisation campaign on Domestic Violence at Malabar where she underlined the major guidelines on the effective operation of a Family Support Desk and also on the need for a hotline based on the Mauritian model.
16. Cabinet has taken note that the Eastern and Southern Africa Joint Dedicated Session on Agriculture and Market Access would held in Mauritius from 10 to 12 April 2006. The aims of the Meeting were to discuss pertinent issues on market access and to finalise the positions of those clusters building on the work and negotiations.
17. Cabinet has taken note that, in the context of the World Health Day 2006, the Ministry of Health & Quality of Life, in collaboration with the World Health Organisation and other health stakeholders, will organize a number of activities, including an official function at the Auditorium of the Mahatma Gandhi Institute, Moka. The theme chosen by the World Health Organisation to mark the event is "Working Together for Health", the aim of which is to underline the urgent need to empower the health workforce to face the challenges ahead.
18. Cabinet has taken note of the reconstitution of the Law Reform Commission with Mr Guy Ollivry, QC, as Chairperson.
19. Cabinet has taken note of the appointment of Mr Joel Rault as Director of the Tourism Authority for a period of two years.