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Prime Minister's Office>Cabinet Decisions taken on 20 December 2007

Cabinet Decisions taken on 20 December 2007

1. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the mission of Dr the Hon Navinchandra Ramgoolam, Prime Minister, to Lisbon, Portugal, where he attended the EU-Africa Summit held from 8 to 9 December 2007.

e Summit adopted a new Africa-EU Strategic Partnership which is based on solidarity, the need for dialogue on issues of common interest, the promotion of a common agenda in the International arena and the definition of common positions on international conflicts, a push for better representation of Africa in the International Institutions and the intensification of relations between the European and Pan-African Parliaments.

In his address to the Plenary, the Prime Minister, inter alia, -

(a) advocated the importance of dialogue to find solutions to issues in the relations between Africa and Europe;

(b) expressed appreciation to EU’s sanction of abuse of human rights in Myanmar and pointed out that Mauritius had already taken a step in that direction when it severed trade relations with that country 10 years ago;

(c) asked the EU to pay more attention to problems faced by African countries, especially the Small Islands Developing States which are being seriously affected by climate change; and

(d) referred to the Economic Partnership Agreement which the EU is proposing to Africa and expressed the hope that such an arrangement will lead to a win-win situation for both sides.

During his stop-over in Paris, the Prime Minister had a Breakfast Meeting with Mr Joël de Rosnay on the project of making Mauritius an example of “Une Ile Durable” as far as energy is concerned.

During his stay in Lisbon, the Prime Minister had bilateral meetings with Mr Nicolas Sarkozy, President of the Republic of France, Mr Louis Michel, EU Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, and Mr Abbas El Fassi, Prime Minister of Morocco at the latter’s request.

Referring to the very close relationship binding our two countries, Mr N. Sarkozy, President of the Republic of France, assured the Prime Minister of the continuous support of France in the economic reform process that Mauritius has undertaken and reiterated the pledge to extend every possible assistance to Mauritius to upgrade the Police Force.

Regarding the sovereignty of Tromelin, the French President confirmed that a delegation would be in Mauritius shortly to pursue discussions.

During his meeting with Mr Louis Michel, EU Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, the Prime Minister explained that the delay in implementing reforms in the sugar sector was due to the fact that the Mauritian Government wanted to ensure that the benefits of such reforms were equitably and fairly distributed among the various stakeholders, especially the small planters and the workers of the sugar sector. The Prime Minister appealed to the EU Commissioner to ensure that there is no cut back on the financial assistance to be extended to Mauritius by the EU in the context of the sugar sector reforms. Mr Louis Michel assured the Prime Minister that he would see to it that Mauritius receives its full entitlement of financial support in due time so as not to jeopardize the reform process that Mauritius has engaged in.

During their meeting, the Prime Minister of Morocco pointed out that Morocco wished to consolidate diplomatic and economic relations and provide technical assistance in agriculture, fishing, water management, tourism and handicraft.

2. Taking into consideration the situation in the pig breeding sector, Cabinet has agreed to grant pig breeders a one-off payment, over and above the monthly compensation, as follows for the end of year period -
Pig Breeders having Compensation
less than 21 Rs 2,000
21 – 50 Rs 5,500
51 and above Rs 6,500

3. Cabinet has taken note of developments in the relocation of and the payment of compensation programme for the inhabitants of Mare Chicose.

Cabinet has further taken note of the programme of infrastructural works on the relocation site at Marie Jeannie, Rose Belle. Construction of roads, drains and the provision of utilities are expected to start by March 2008 and would be completed within 6 months' time.

4. Cabinet has taken note that the Office Attendant’s Quarters at Guy Rozemont Government School, Tranquebar, Port-Louis, would be converted into a Sub-Youth Centre with a view to providing the inhabitants of the region of Tranquebar and its vicinity leisure and recreational facilities.

5. Cabinet has taken note of the report of the delegation that proceeded to China to clarify issues on the importation of wheat flour from the Z.J. Flour Co. Ltd. situated in the province of Henan, People's Republic of China. The delegation made a thorough inspection of the factory and witnessed the processes for the manufacture of wheat flour and was fully satisfied that the production of wheat flour was made in the best sanitary conditions, and respecting all religious susceptibilities.

6. Following discussions that the Prime Minister had with the Indian Authorities during his visit to India in October 2005, Cabinet has taken note that the Minister of External Affairs of India and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Trade & Cooperation signed, on 18 December 2007, a Memorandum of Understanding for the establishment and development of the Institute of Diplomacy and Foreign Trade in Mauritius.

The objective of the Institute is to provide officers key inputs on foreign policy, diplomatic practices and foreign trade so as to facilitate their understanding of international issues and develop their negotiating skills for substantive participation in international meetings and conferences.

7. Cabinet has taken note that during the Mega Blood Donation held on 18 December 2007, 1719 pints of blood had been collected, a record number of pints of blood collected in a day. The stock level of blood would, therefore, be adequate for the end of year festivities.

8. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the mission of the Minister of Local Government to India where, in his capacity as Vice-Chairperson of the Commonwealth Local Government Forum, he participated in the “All India Mayor’s Conference” held from 08 to 09 December 2007. The theme of the Conference was "Strengthening Initiatives for Gender Friendly Cities and Good Governance”. The Conference was largely attended by Mayors of cities of India and the main issues discussed were urban local Government, e-governance, transparency and accountability.

In the margins of the Conference, and at the request of several mayors, the Minister of Local Government made presentations on our tourist industry.

9. Cabinet has taken note that the Social Aid Regulations would be amended to provide for more specific criteria for the payment of bad weather allowance to fishermen. An allowance is payable to a fisherman on a day determined by the Meteorological Services as being a bad weather day, except a public holiday or a day on which there prevails a cyclone warning of at least Class III.

10. As announced in Budget 2006/2007 and in line with the recommendations of the Marrakech Action for Statistics, Cabinet has taken note of action initiated for the setting up of an autonomous National Statistical Agency, which will be the hub and coordinator of the national statistical system, and also absorb the current activities of the Central Statistics Office.

11. In line with Government Programme to foster closer economic cooperation with countries of Southern Asia, Cabinet has taken note that at its 29th Session, the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Council for Ministers has, on 7 December 2007, welcomed Mauritius to be associated as Observer in the Association.

SAARC, which was established in 1985, provides a platform for countries in Southern Asia to work together in a spirit of friendship, trust and understanding with a view to accelerating the process of economic and social development.

12. Cabinet has taken note that Mauritius has initiated the Interim Agreement with the European Commission within the Eastern and Southern African States pending the conclusion of a full Economic Partnership Agreement with the European Communities and its member states. The objective of the Interim Agreement is to establish the framework, scope and principles for further negotiations on trade in goods and in relation to other issues, including trade in services. Negotiations would have to be completed with a view to concluding a comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement by December 2008.

13. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the mission of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Trade & Cooperation to Brussels where he attended the 86th Session of the ACP Council of Ministers.

The Council Meeting was preceded by the meeting of the Ministerial Development Finance Committee, which discussed the following:

(a) Implementation status of the 9th EDF;
(b) Harmonisation of rules and procedures;
(c) Governance and access to the incentive tranche of the 10th EDF; and
(d) Budgetary support in the framework of the 10th EDF.

The main items on the agenda of the Council meeting were the report of the Committee of Ambassadors, the Secretary General's report, the report of the Committee of Ambassadors on the future of the ACP and the report of the Ministers responsible for EPA's.

14. Cabinet has taken note of the Family Planning and Demographic Yearbook 2006, the salient features of which are as follows –

(a) as at December 2006, the population of the Island of Mauritius was 1,219,208;

(b) the average life span for a Mauritian was 72.3 years during the period 2004-2006, i.e., 75.68 years for females and 68.92 years for males;

(c) as at 1 July 2006, the number of women in the reproductive age group 15-49 years was 336,720 as compared to 334,573 as in July 2005;

(d) the crude birth rate was 13.8 per 1000 population in 2006 as compared to 14.9 in 2005;

(e) the general fertility rate, which is the number of live births occurred per 1000 women aged 15 and 49 years, was 48.90 in 2006 as compared to 52.92 in 2005;

(f) the total fertility rate, which is the average number of children per woman, was 1.67 in 2006 as compared to 1.79 in 2005;

(g) the crude death rate was 7.3 per 1000 population in 2006. The crude death rate has fluctuated between 6.7 and 7.3 during the period 1996 to 2006;

(h) in 2006, the infant mortality rate was 13.5 as compared to 13.2 in 2005; and

(i) there were 87,412 current users of the different family planning methods in 2006 as compared to 90,421 in 2005.

As regards to the Island of Rodrigues, the Report reveals, amongst other things, that in 2006 –

(a) the population of Rodrigues was 37,230;

(b) the crude birth rate was 23.80;

(c) the total fertility rate was 2.79 as compared to 2.91 in 2005;

(d) the crude death rate was 6.6 as compared to 6.2 in 2005;

(e) the infant mortality rate was 27.2 as compared to 20.6 in 2005; and

(f) there were 6,524 current users of all family planning methods as compared to 6,417 in 2005.

15. Cabinet has taken note of the reconstitution of the Mental Health Commission with Dr G. Bauljeewon , Regional Health Director, as Chairperson.