CABINET DECISIONS - 9 FEBRUARY 2007
1. Cabinet has taken note that, during his mission to India from 29 to 31 January 2007, Dr the Hon Navinchandra Ramgoolam, Prime Minister, attended the International Conference on “Peace, Non-Violence and Empowerment: Gandhian Philosophy in the 21st Century”, and addressed the session on Gandhian philosophy for poverty eradication, education and people’s empowerment. In his statement, the Prime Minister mentioned -
(a) the timeless relevance of the Gandhian Philosophy to the present day problems all over the world;
(b) the imprint of Mahatma Gandhi on the history of Mauritius and the emancipation of our people;
(c) the total commitment to communal harmony and secularism which Gandhi demonstrated during his stay in Mauritius;
(d) the contribution of Manilall Doctor who was delegated by Gandhi to pursue the work of mobilisation and organization in Mauritius;
(e) the deep influence Gandhi had on Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam in the struggle for independence and with regard to access to education for all, democratization of the economy and equipping people to stay out of poverty;
(f) the date of the independence of Mauritius which was in remembrance of Gandhi’s Salt March;
(g) Gandhi’s emphasis on empowerment of the common man, which remains as relevant to Mauritius of 2007 as it was in the India of his days and the enactment shortly of an Equal Opportunity Bill in Mauritius to further the philosophy of empowerment; and
(h) Gandhi’s emphasis on the welfare of human beings and not on systems and institutions.
The Conference adopted a Declaration acknowledging the historical contribution made by Mahatma Gandhi and deeply cherishing the ideals of non-violence and peace which guided him in his struggle against injustice. In the Declaration, an appeal has been made to the UN to declare Mahatma Gandhi’s date of birth, 02 October, as the International Non-Violence Day.
Cabinet has further taken note that during his stay in New Delhi, the Prime Minister had meetings with Smt Sonia Gandhi, President of the All India Congress Committee, Dr Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India, Mr Pranab Mukherjee, Minister of Foreign Affairs of India and Mr Nitish Kumar, Chief Minister of the State of Bihar.
The Prime Minister congratulated Smt Sonia Gandhi for convening the International Conference to commemorate the “Satyagraha” movement and to acknowledge the historical contribution made by Gandhi and the values espoused by him especially as violence was rampant in many parts of the world. He thanked the Indian Government for all the technical and financial assistance it has been providing to Mauritius over the years in the field of education and culture, which culminated in the setting up of Mahatma Gandhi Institute, Indira Gandhi Centre for Cultural Relations and Rajiv Gandhi Science Centre and in other areas, such as ICT and Tsunami Warning System. The Prime Minister handed over to Smt Sonia Gandhi a short film on Mahatma Gandhi produced by Mr Alain Gordon Gentil and which had won a prize at the Cannes Film Festival and apprised her of the project of Mr Gentil to produce a documentary film on people coming from Bihar to Mauritius.
In his meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the Prime Minister focused on the on-going discussions between our two countries on the Double Taxation Agreement, major economic challenges facing the Mauritian economy and the broad-based reform programme undertaken by the present Government. He pointed out that India has been a major partner of Mauritius in the development of our offshore sector and that he looked forward to a consolidation of this partnership to develop Mauritius as an International Financial Centre. The Indian Prime Minister assured that a mutually satisfactory solution relating to the Double Taxation Agreement would be found promptly and that India would not take a unilateral decision on the issue and share information to combat terrorism. The Indian Prime Minister was, also, apprised of developments regarding the establishment of the World Hindi Secretariat in Mauritius.
With regard to the ICT sector, the Prime Minister referred to the successful establishment of INFOSYS in Mauritius and the possibility of Indian professionals producing software in Mauritius to tap the French market, an idea first put forward by President Chirac. He also invited Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to use Mauritius to strengthen his relations with French-Speaking Countries.
The Prime Minister’s meeting with Dr Pranab Mukherjee, Indian Foreign Minister, focussed on bilateral cooperation between our two countries which covers several areas, such as the Double Taxation Agreement and the Financial Services.
The Chief Minister of Bihar formally extended an invitation to the Prime Minister to visit Bihar at a time convenient to him with a view to further consolidating the deep-rooted relation between Bihar and Mauritius. Concerning the possibility of Mauritius investing in Bihar in areas of interest namely, in power and sugar production, the Prime Minister proposed the creation of a business forum to facilitate its process. It was, also, proposed that the Mauritius Sugar Industry Research Institute could be called upon to provide technical assistance to sugar cane growers in Bihar. The Prime Minister also conveyed his appreciation and gratitude to the Chief Minister for his endeavour to erect a statue of Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam in the native village of his forefathers.
2. Cabinet has taken note that all arrangements have been made for Government to meet –
(a) the full cost of examinations fees of students whose parents’ monthly income is up to Rs 7,500; and
(b) 50% of the cost of examination fees of the students in cases where two or more students in a household would be sitting for SC or HSC examinations provided that the monthly income of the household is between Rs 7,500 and Rs 10,000.
Cabinet has further taken note that banking institutions have agreed to offer loans with preferential rates of interests for the payment of SC and HSC Examination fees to households whose monthly income is between Rs 7,500 and Rs 10,000. Public sector companies, parastatal bodies, as well as SICOM, MEPZA, EWF, the Mauritius Civil Service Mutual Aid Association, are putting similar loan schemes to assist their employees in the payment of examination fees of their wards. SICOM, Mutual Aid and EWF, would also help their clients with such loan schemes.
Cabinet has also taken note that private sector companies would consider extending such facilities to their employees.
Cabinet has taken note that this policy aims at providing more assistance to those most in need by redirecting resources to them, with the result that 15 % of that group would benefit from the payment of the full cost of SC and HSC exams, instead of just 5.5 % as was the case under the previous policy. The Government grant to those earning up to Rs 7,500, together with the loan scheme provided to those earning between Rs 7,500 and Rs 10,000, would cover 25% of the school population taking part in SC and HSC Examinations. This policy would relieve those who are most in need. Government is now able to spend 60 percent more on the most needy, including deserving repeaters. This policy is in line with Government’s philosophy of empowering the weakest segment of the population.
Cabinet has taken note that it would cost Rs 160 million if, in addition to the above policy, Government has to meet 50 % of the fees for other students.
3. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the meetings held with the representatives of the Force Vives of Mare Chicose to disseminate the findings of the Geotechnical Investigation Report on the site identified for their relocation at Marie Jeannie, Rose Belle, which confirmed the presence of underground cavities. The representatives of the Force Vives have, nevertheless, maintained their preference for the site for their relocation. In the light of the meetings, the Ministry of Local Government is making necessary arrangements with all concerned to carry out remedial works should caves/cavities be encountered, modify the layout plan and carry out other infrastructural works. The representatives of the inhabitants of Mare Chicose have agreed to meet any additional costs involved in the remedial works.
4. Cabinet has taken note that, in line with best international practices and with a view to addressing the deficiencies in the present pre-registration training programme, the Medical Council has recommended a 24-month pre-registration training for medical graduates covering General Medicine, General Surgery, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Orthopaedics, Cardiology, Community Medicine, Paediatrics, Psychiatry, ENT, Ophthalmology, and Anaesthesia and ICU.
The Mauritius Institute of Health (MIH) has been requested to develop a training protocol defining, amongst other things, the training programme, the expected outcomes and the mechanism for the monitoring, evaluation and assessment of trainees. A system of clinical tutoring, with the collaboration of Consultants and Specialists in the relevant fields at the hospitals, would also be set up. These Consultants and Specialists would be required to coach and supervise the graduates, as well as monitor and assess their skills, knowledge, aptitude and performance on a regular basis in accordance with the training protocol to be prepared by the MIH.
The extended period of training would make up for the inadequacy in clinical exposure during medical studies and provide the minimum clinical training needed after basic studies to prepare the doctor for independent practice in Mauritius. The focus of the extended scheme is the safeguard of the patient’s interest through the provision of quality care by medical practitioners in conformity with the best standards obtained at international level.
5. With a view to boosting the Industrial Sector and Small and Medium Enterprises, Cabinet has taken note that Enterprise Mauritius would organize a Forum on the state of the Printing and Publishing Sector and the way forward on 1 March 2007.
The main objectives of the forum are to:
(i) assess the current status of the Printing and Publishing Sector in Mauritius;
(ii) take stock of latest trends on the evolution of the Sector in the global market place, in particular industry structure, supply chain issues, technical trends, and product development trends;
(iii) gain new insights about the Sector;
(iv) identify strategic opportunities for developing the export potential of the sector; and
(v) devise a 3-year strategic plan for the Sector.
The resource persons would be -
(i) Mr John Birkenshaw, Pira International Consultant, who would make an exposé on the evolution of the global Printing and Publishing Sector and implications for the Mauritian Printing Industry;
(ii) Mr Jean Claude de l’Estrac, Director General of l’Express, who would make an exposé on the regional and global market opportunities for the Mauritian printing and publishing sector; and
(iii) Mr Constantin Papas, International Marketing Manager of Book Publishing Services Ltd who would make an exposé on the Mauritian reality.
6. Cabinet has taken note that the Minister of Education & Human Resources has on 29 January 2007, signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Specialist Schools & Academies Trust, UK, (SSAT) and launched the International Networking for Educational Transformation (iNet) project. In this connection, a special delegation from the SSAT led by Mrs Elizabeth Reeds, Chief Executive, was in Mauritius from 27 to 30 January 2007. The launching of the project was followed by a Lecture on "Re-imagining School Leadership" delivered by Emeritus Prof Brian Caldwell, Managing Director of Educational Transformations Pty Ltd in Melbourne and Associate Director of iNET.
7. Cabinet has taken note of developments in the organization of the National Day Celebrations 2007. The official ceremony would be held at Esplanade Prof. Basdeo Bissoondoyal, Port Louis Waterfront as from 1700 hours. The Flag Raising Ceremony would be held at 1800 hours followed by a cultural programme and fireworks display. The show would comprise performances by:
(i) popular groups from Mauritius, Rodrigues and Agalega;
(ii) Police pop group;
(iii) winners of different song competitions organized by the Mauritius Broadcasting Corporation;
(iv) local artists having won international recognition; and
(v) disabled artists.
8. Cabinet has taken note that, after Panchavati, St Hiliaire, Camp Levieux, Vallée Pitot, Bel Air, Plaine Verte, Rivière des Anguilles and Vacoas, the “Caravane de l’Entrepreneuriat” was organized at the Youth Centre of Chemin Grenier on Wednesday 31 January 2007 for the benefits of the following regions –
• Chemin Grenier
• La Gaullette
• Baie du Cap
• Saint Felix
On that occasion, 73 Certificates of Registration were issued for projects, such as making of bakery/pastry, plantation of bananas, manufacture of furniture and cabinet making, operating an automobile workshop, manufacture of food items (noodles), plantation and selling of vegetables & fruits, manufacture of handicraft products, operating as florist, seller of poultry, meat, fish and allied products, agency for import and export, tailoring and dressmaking, cattle breeding, and making of ice cream and cold drinks. Cheques from the DBM Ltd were also issued to three beneficiaries.
17,286 persons visited SEHDA from July 2005 to 26 January 2007 for counselling and facilitation and 4482 Certificates of Registration had been issued out of which 2724 were for new enterprises.
The programme for the “Caravane de l’Entrepreneuriat” for 2007 is as follows –
|Pointe aux Sables
||19 September |
|Rivière du Rempart
9. Cabinet has taken note that the Ministry of Environment & National Development Unit would, by mid May 2007, organise the annual Regional Oil Spill Simulation Exercise that would be coupled with the National Oil Spill Drill. The main objectives of the Exercises are, inter alia, to –
(i) put into practice the National Oil Spill Contingency Plan;
(ii) test the state of preparedness to activate the Regional Oil Spill Contingency Plan (ROSCP) and to request for assistance on a real time scenario basis from other countries signatories of ROSCP;
(iii) respond to regional obligation; and
(iv) learn and share lessons from the drill.
10. Cabinet has taken note of the Annual Stamp Issue Programme for the year 2007. The themes recommended by the Stamp Advisory Committee for the issue of postage stamps in 2007, and approved by the Postal Authority, are as follows:
||Proposed Month of Issue|
|(i) Coral Reefs
|(ii) The Dodo – Raphus cucullatus
|(iii) 24th Universal Postal Union Congress
||October 2007 |
|(iv) Anniversaries and Events
In line with current practice, a First Day Cover and a set of four stamps would be issued in respect of each theme, except for the “24th Universal Postal Union Congress”, whereby only one stamp would be issued.
11. Cabinet has taken note that the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO), in collaboration with Mauritius Telecom Ltd, would organise the following meetings:
(i) the Human Resources for ICT Forum from 26 to 27 February 2007, which would address the following issues:
(a) The impact of global ICT issues on organizations ;
(b) Organisational Development;
(c) Preparing public sector organizations for the future telecommunications environment;
(d) Aligning human resource strategy with corporate strategy; and
(e) Changing organisations from service to customer-centric business model.
(ii) the Annual General Meeting of Liaison Officers on 28 February 2007 which would aim at -
(a) reviewing the implementation of the on-going 2006-07 approved programme;
(b) considering recommendations made by CTO Management and the elected Management Committee of the Programme; and
(c) approving the 2007-08 Programme.
(iii) the Programme for Development and Training Management Committee from 1 to 2 March 2007, which would discuss particular expertise in telecommunications training.
12. Cabinet has taken note of developments on hydrographic issues following the survey carried out by the Indian Hydrographic Survey vessel, INS Sarveshak. Cabinet has further taken note that –
(i) the nautical charts in respect of the hydrographic surveys conducted by the INS Sarveshak in January/February 2006, would be completed by end of March 2007.
(ii) the Indian Authorities would, shortly, deploy a hydrographic survey vessel to carry out activities on the Approaches to Port Mathurin Harbour and for the Land-Based Oceanic Industry in two or three designated sites.
(iii) the Indian Authorities would assist in the setting up of dedicated and self-sustained Hydrographic Unit in Mauritius with plans for short, medium and long term activities, and the Indian side has agreed to provide training locally as well as at the National Hydrographic Institute in Goa.
13. Cabinet has taken note that the new multi-purpose complex at Phoenix that would house the National Women Development Centre, would be inaugurated on 8th March 2007 in the context of the celebration marking International Women's Day.
The complex, a two-storeyed building of 2580 m2, has been designed to provide integrated services for the development and empowerment of women with emphasis on capacity building, women entrepreneurship development, IT skills development and physical fitness promotion among others. The complex would house an Entrepreneurship Development Centre, an Information Technology Centre, a Home Economics Resource Centre, a Training Centre, an Early Childhood Development Resource Centre and a Family Support Bureau.
Cabinet has further taken note that All China Women's Federation of the the People’s Republic of China has donated equipment, viz., keep fit equipment, embroidery machines, ovenware and refrigerator, for use by the Centre.
14. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the informal WTO Ministerial Meeting held in the margins of the World Economic Forum in Davos on 27 January 2007. The Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Trade & Cooperation attended the meeting. The aim of the meeting was to provide the necessary political impetus for a full and speedy resumption of the DDA negotiations and to build on the momentum created in the wake of a flurry of bilateral and plurilateral consultations held between and amongst some of the major players since September last year.
In the margins of the meeting, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Trade & Cooperation, had bilateral consultations with, inter alia, the Hon Humayun Khan, Minister of Trade of Pakistan and the Hon M. Kituyi, Minister of Trade of Kenya.
15. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the Eighth Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union held from 29 to 30 January 2007 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Trade & Cooperation attended the Conference.
The Assembly considered, inter alia, the budget for 2007, amendments to the rules of procedure of the Assembly of the Union; the Executive Council and the Permanent Representatives’ Committee and the Statutes of the Commission; the report of the Chairperson of the Commission for the period of July to December 2006; the African Charter on Democracy; Elections and Governance; the Establishment of the African Union Financial Institutions; the issue of the Union Government; the draft United Nations Declaration on the Rights of the Indigenous People and several security-related issues, including the situation in Darfur and Somalia.
A meeting of the NEPAD Heads of State and Government Implementation Committee was held in the margins of the Summit, principally, to review the performance of NEPAD.