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Prime Minister's Office>Cabinet Decisions taken on 08 March 2007

Cabinet Decisions taken on 08 March 2007

1. Following Government's decision to sell State land on which stands the ex-CHA houses to their owners, Cabinet has agreed to the introduction into the National Assembly of the State Lands (Amendment) Bill which will empower the Minister of Housing & Lands to sell the State land on which a house has been built as part of a Housing Estate, commonly known as an ex-CHA Estate, to the owner of the house at a nominal price.

2. Cabinet has taken note of developments in the implementation of various projects in the region of Grand Baie, which comprise, inter alia, the rehabilitation of the beach, the provision of infrastructure and the upliftment of the socio-economic environment of the locality.
Cabinet has further taken note that works have already started for the putting up of a football ground and other sports facilities at Grand Baie. The project is partially funded by Seaview Ltd., a private company.

3. Cabinet has taken note of the good performance of the EPZ Sector for the year 2006 as compared to the year 2005; total exports of the Sector increased by 16.4% and the performance of the main sub-sectors is as follows-
(i) Apparel and Clothing products registered a growth rate of 13.4%.
(ii) Textile yarns and fabrics registered a growth rate of 16.3%.
(iii) Optical goods increased by 39%.
(iv) The seafood sector has registered a growth of 57.8% .
Cabinet has further taken note that the projected growth in the EPZ Sector for the year 2007 would be around 2.5% and that, on this trend, the EPZ Sector will remain one of the pillars of the economy for years to come.

4. Cabinet has taken note that the Government of Madagascar has solicited the assistance of Mauritius to enable it to recover following extensive damages caused by the passage of four successive cyclones since December 2006, and has, in a spirit of solidarity and in view of the friendly relations, agreed to donate about 500 tons of rice.

5. Cabinet has taken note of the results of the Search and Rescue Operations concerning the 17 fishermen of Fishing Vessels King Fish II and King Fish V who have been reported missing at sea. With a view to assisting the families of the fishermen, the Ministry of Social Security, National Solidarity and Senior Citizens Welfare & Reform Institutions and the Ministry of Agro Industry & Fisheries are extending financial assistance and psychological support to them. The Prime Minister handed over cheques to the families this afternoon.

6. Cabinet has taken note that, following the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of India and the Government of Mauritius during the visit of Dr the Hon Navinchandra Ramgoolam, Prime Minister, to India in January 2006, INS Sarvekshak carried out Hydrographic Surveys, including deep water sampling for the purpose of land-based oceanic industry.
Cabinet has taken note that the Hydrographic Survey Vessel INS Sarvekshak would again be in Mauritius on 10 March 2007 to conduct bathymetric survey at three designated sites for the Mauritius Research Council in relation to the Land-Based Oceanic Industry Project and would thereafter proceed to Rodrigues to conduct hydrographic surveys of Port Mathurin and Approaches to Port Mathurin for the Mauritius Port Authority.

7. As there is currently a lack of necessary “encadrement” to groom and prepare best athletes for high level performances from an early age, Cabinet has taken note of the promulgation of the Finance and Audit (Trust Fund for Excellence in Sports) (Amendment) Regulations with a view to enlarging the scope of the Trust Fund for Excellence in Sports to cater for outstanding young athletes at school level.
The Trust Fund for Excellence in Sports was set up in December 2002 with a view to designing, financing and implementing projects and schemes for the benefit of:-
(a) sportsmen and sportswomen who have achieved excellence in their respective fields at national or international level; or
(b) retired sportsmen and sportswomen who need support and financial assistance in order to embark on other professional activities.

8. In line with Government Programme 2005-2010 to establish a friendly and predictable business environment and to relieve socio-economic stakeholders from unnecessary red tape and bureaucratic constraints, Cabinet has taken note of progress achieved so far in the operationalisation of the new business facilitation framework and of the streamlining of regulated activities to promote and facilitate the emergence of creative and innovative entrepreneurs.
Cabinet has further taken note that a set of self adherence guidelines, e.g. Fire Services Guidelines, Environmental Guidelines, Health Guidelines, etc., has been posted on the web sites of the Registrar of Business and Companies, the Board of Investment, Enterprise Mauritius and major Government departments for the benefit of the public.

9. In line with Government programme to boost up the cooperative sector and to ensure capacity building of cooperative societies, Cabinet has taken note of incentive schemes and projects, as well as support measures, put in place for the consolidation and promotion of the cooperative sector, viz. -
(i) re-launching of the computer grant scheme;
(ii) small grant to encourage youth and women to undertake income generating activities in cooperatives;
(iii) provision of technical and financial support to cow breeding cooperative societies, especially those in “village laitier" projects;
(iv) support for minor projects in agricultural and agro-processing activities, especially for the acquisition of equipment; and
(v) assistance to the cooperative livestock sector.
The proposed measures would enable cooperatives to play a more meaningful role in the national economy and to actively participate in solving unemployment problem.

10. Following the island-wide success of the "Caravane de l'Entrepreneuriat" which aimed at promoting an entrepreneurship culture in our society, Cabinet has taken note that 17,286 persons have visited the Small Enterprises and Handicraft Development Authority from July 2005 to January 2007, for counselling and facilitation and 4,482 certificates of registration have been issued out of which 2,724 were for new enterprises.
Cabinet has further taken note that, with a view to discussing the problems and constraints faced by the newly registered small entrepreneurs in running their businesses, the Minister of Industry, Small & Medium Enterprises, Commerce & Cooperatives and the Minister of Information Technology & Telecommunications had an interactive meeting with a first batch of 500 small entrepreneurs. The meeting was a platform for the various support institutions to inform the entrepreneurs of the facilities, schemes and services, including the use of ICT tools, offered for the conduct of their businesses. The entrepreneurs seized the opportunity to display some of their products and exchange information and their know-how.
Cabinet has also taken note of the following initiatives to address the problems faced by entrepreneurs and to further boost up the SME sector -
(a) a reward of Rs 50,000 to the first enterprise which would obtain an ISO 9000 Certification for quality;
(b) the preparation of a directory of Small and Medium Enterprises by the SEHDA;
(c) regular interactive meetings with SMEs on a regional basis to assess their difficulties; and
(d) the setting up of a Fast Track Committee, with all support institutions, to follow up on the grievances of SMEs.

11. Cabinet has taken note that, in line with ILO Convention No. 111 of 1958 on Discrimination (Employment and Occupation), the Ministry of Labour, Industrial Relations & Employment has carried out a study on discriminatory practices in the Mauritian labour market with a view to identifying –
(a) existing imbalances or discriminatory practices; and
(b) discriminatory elements in existing legislation or administrative regulations which contribute to inequality in access to employment or unequal treatment in employment.
The study has revealed, inter alia, that -
(i) Inadequate monitoring weakens the protection afforded to employment rights under our current legislation.
(ii) Sex segregation of occupations limits employment opportunities for women in comparison to men and this might be an important cause of the lower earnings of women in the labour market.
(iii) Vocational training also follows a sex segregation pattern corresponding to traditional gender roles in the labour market.
The Ministry proposes to organise a workshop to disseminate the findings of the report.

12. In view of the fact that the shift from preferences to globalised competitiveness over the last few years and the phasing out of the Multi-Fibre Agreement, have drastic effects on the textile and garment sector in Mauritius, Cabinet has taken note that the Ministry of Labour, Industrial Relations & Employment carried out a Tracer Study on retrenched workers in the Textile Sector under the project "Capacity Building for Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women" to -
(i) examine the effects of unemployment in the textile sector and identify problems faced by retrenched workers;
(ii) assess the coping mechanisms resorted to by them after retrenchment; and
(iii) proposed strategies and programmes to address the problems identified.
The report has revealed that –
(i) Unemployment has an effect on the quality and style of life of those directly affected as well as on other members of the household.
(ii) The training/credit schemes so far implemented in Mauritius do not seem to have a positive impact on or assist the retrenched workers to a significant degree.
(iii) There appears to be a high degree of ignorance about schemes put in place for retrenched workers.
(iv) Those retrenched from textile companies would prefer employment in an alternative sector, particularly in the public sector or in tourism sector in spite of an evident mismatch of skills and opportunities.
(v) Longer term unemployed men tend to see themselves and are seen by others as unemployed while women in a similar situation are seen as housewives.
(vi) The skills profile, educational background and biographical details of many redundant workers, particularly older women, make their re-employment in other sectors less likely.
The findings of the study would be discussed with stakeholders at a consultative workshop to be held on 26 and 27 March 2007.

13. In order to ensure a more equitable representation of seafarers on the Management Committee of the Seafarer’s Welfare Fund, Cabinet has taken note of the promulgation of the Merchant Shipping (Seafarer’s Welfare Fund) (Amendment) Regulations to provide for the appointment of two representatives of active seafarers instead of one on the Management Committee.

14. Cabinet has agreed to Government Airport assets at Plaine Corail, Rodrigues being transferred to the Airport of Rodrigues Ltd (ARL), on 31 March 2007. ARL, which is a public company set up with Government shareholding to operate and develop the airport at Plaine Corail, will, as from that date, become the licensed aerodrome operator in Rodrigues.

15. In line with Government's policy to diversify energy sources, Cabinet has taken note that a Committee has been set up to look into different aspects regarding the introduction/production of biofuels in Mauritius.

16. Cabinet has taken note that the Consumer Unity and Trust Society (CUTS) International, in collaboration with the Ministry of Industry, Small and Medium Enterprises, Commerce & Cooperatives, would organise an International Competition Policy Conference in Mauritius on 29 and 30 March 2007 as part of a two-year research and advocacy project entitled “Capacity Building on Competition Policy in Select Countries of Eastern and Southern Africa”. The main objective of the project is to develop the capacity of national stakeholders, viz.- policymakers, regulators, civil society organisations, academicians and the media, through a participatory process to understand appropriate prevailing competition concerns from the national, regional and international perspectives.

17. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the mission to India, from 20 to 25 February 2007 of the Minister of Industry, Small & Medium Enterprises, Commerce & Cooperatives who was invited by the India International Trade Centre (IITC) and the Small and Medium Business Development Centre of India (SME Centre) as Guest of Honour and Keynote Speaker for the “Global SMEs Summit” organised in Mumbai under the theme “Empowering SME Sector for Better Prospects”.
Cabinet has further taken note that a Memorandum of Understanding has been established by the India International Trade Centre (IITC) and the Small Enterprises and Handicraft Development Authority (SEHDA) for the promotion and development of the SME sector. IITC has agreed to provide a space to the extent of 2000 m2 in the permanent exhibition centre for international buyers for the exhibition of Mauritian products. IITC has also agreed to assist SEHDA in the organisation of the SME Technology Fair scheduled for June 2007, training of SMEs and sourcing of raw materials by our SMEs.
A Buyers-Sellers Meeting was organised by Enterprise Mauritius in Mumbai, whereby -
(i) Grays International concluded a first contractual agreement for exports of premium rum over one year to an importer in Mumbai;
(ii) St Aubin and Scott Ltd identified a niche market for the hotel sector; and
(iii) International Distillers and United Spirits Producers negotiated for a joint venture partnership with Indian companies for bottling of the Mauritian rum in India.
During his stay in Mumbai, the Minister also had meetings with, inter alia –
(i) Mr Jaggannathan, Regional Director of the Apparel Exports Council, on the possibility of the establishment of an Apparel Exports Council in Mauritius.
(ii) Singhi and Associates, a firm of financial advisors, on the possibility for BALBIR Rolling Mills Ltd, which is one of their clients, to set up a steel factory in Mauritius.
(iii) the Director of Gandhitex enterprise in connection with the setting up of a paper converting industry in Mauritius.