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

Cabinet Decisions taken on 20 September 2007

1. Cabinet has taken note that the Mauritius Revenue Authority has decided to extend by one week the deadline for the submission of Income Tax Returns for the Year of Assessment 2007-2008 (Income Year ended 30 June 2007) in order to allow members of the public to obtain maximum information at the Authority.

2. Cabinet has taken note that Mauritius proposes to approach Madagascar, Seychelles and Comoros to conclude an Economic Partnership Agreement with the European Union with a view to safeguarding vital trade and economic interests and securing an ambitious agreement for continued and sustained economic development. The Economic Partnership Agreement would replace the current non-reciprocal trade regime of ACP-EU Cotonou Agreement which expires on 31 December 2007.

3. Cabinet has agreed to the setting up of a Fact Finding Committee on the discrepancy noted in the result of some candidates who sat for French Paper 3014 at the 2006 November/December School Certificate/GCE "O" Level Examinations, chaired by Mr Nicholas François Oshan Bellepeau, District Magistrate and assisted by two Assessors. The Terms of Reference are, inter alia, to -

(i) ascertain which procedures and safeguards are in place at the Mauritius Examinations Syndicate in connection with the electronic transmission of data/marks to Cambridge International Examinations, in particular during the Grade Review exercise, for candidates having sat for the Cambridge School Certificate/GCE "O" Level Examinations;
(ii) investigate into the circumstances in which an incomplete file containing wrong data relating to such marks was transmitted to Cambridge International Examinations, thereby causing erroneous results in French Language (3014) for a number of candidates having sat for French Language at the 2006 November/December School Certificate/GCE "O" Level Examinations; and

(iii) make recommendations on, or for improving such procedures or safeguards, aimed at avoiding a recurrence of the incidents referred to above.

4. Cabinet has taken note of the mechanisms in place at the Ministry of Labour, Industrial Relations & Employment to ensure that the working conditions of migrant workers are according to the terms of contract and in line with international norms.

The Special Migrant Workers Unit, set up at the Ministry of Labour, Industrial Relations & Employment
since 2001, –

(a) vets contracts of employment of migrant workers drawing less than Rs 20,000 monthly prior to their arrival in Mauritius to ensure that their contracts are in compliance with the provisions of labour legislation;

(b) carries out inspections at workplaces to monitor the conditions of employment, living conditions and other requirements; and

(c) investigates into complaints made by them.

Two interpreters have recently been recruited to facilitate communication between officers of the Ministry of Labour, Industrial Relations & Employment and the Chinese and the Hindi speaking migrant workers.

The Occupational Safety & Health Inspectorate of the Ministry of Labour, Industrial Relations & Employment also carries out inspections at workplaces and in dormitories to ensure that safety norms are complied with and living conditions are decent.

In 2006, officers of the Special Migrant Workers Unit carried out 757 inspections at workplaces and the Occupational Health and Safety Inspectors inspected 312 dormitories. Following these inspections, in one case, an amount of Rs2.7M, which was short-paid to migrant workers, was refunded and in another case an amount of Rs1.84M was refunded following complaints made at the Special Migrant Workers Unit.

Cabinet has further taken note that the expatriate worker who was quoted on a number of occasions in the article on the conditions of migrant workers in Mauritius published in the paper “Sunday Times” of 12 August 2007, has applied for re-employment in Mauritius two weeks after she went back to her home country. Moreover, a large number of migrant workers from Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, India and China opt for the renewal of their contracts with the same company.

5. Cabinet has taken note of the mechanism in place for the testing of steel bars used for construction purposes in Mauritius. As at date, all steel bars, manufactured locally or imported, are tested for compliance with the Mauritian Standard, MS: 10:1999 which has been developed by the Steel Reinforcement Sub-Committee of the Building and Construction Standards Committee of the Mauritius Standards Bureau (MSB), viz.-

(a) the range and tolerance of the nominal sizes of steel bars;

(b) the cross sectional area and mass;

(c) the mechanical properties, such as yield stress, tensile strength, stress ratio, elongation at fracture, and total elongation at maximum force, including rebend test;

(d) the chemical composition of the steel grades, based on cast and product analysis; and

(e) bond classification and fatigue properties.

Cabinet has further taken note that the MSB is presently reviewing MS 10: 1999 based on the latest version of BS 4449: 2005.

6. Cabinet has taken note of the participation of Special Olympics (Mauritius) in the Special Olympics World Summer Games to be held in Shanghai, China, from 2 to 12 October 2007.

Special Olympics (Mauritius) was launched in 1995 by late Mr Georges Tang, a staunch disability activist. The objective of Special Olympics is to provide opportunities to adults and children with mental retardation to participate in sports activities primarily as a means of rehabilitation. The World Summer Games are organized every four years by Special Olympics International. This year 10 athletes have been selected to represent the flag of the Republic of Mauritius.

7. Cabinet has taken note of activities organized by the Ministry of Social Security, National Solidarity and Senior Citizens Welfare & Reform Institutions to mark the UN International Day of the Elderly on
1 October 2007, viz.,
(i) the launching of a Centenarian Club;
(ii) the opening of a Day Care Centre at Piton; and
(iii) the organization of a “Foire Artisanale” by Senior Citizens.

The objectives of the Centenarian Club would be to –
(i) provide proper social and medical support to our Centenarians;
(ii) ensure that they are treated with love, respect and dignity; and
(iii) value them as role models.

Cabinet has further taken note that there are 68 centenarians, 7 males and 61 females, among whom the Oldest one is Mrs Marie Edith ANDRE, aged 109 years.

8. Cabinet has taken note that Regulations providing for the annual increase in Contributory Pensions, Disablement Pension and Survivor’s Pension with a view to preventing erosion of the purchasing power of those pensions, would be promulgated, viz –

(a) National Pensions (Increase in Pensions) Regulations 2007;
(b) National Pensions (Pension Points) (Amendment) Regulations 2007;
(c) National Pensions (Industrial Injuries) (Amendment) Regulations 2007; and
(d) National Pensions (Amendment of Schedule) Regulations 2007.

9. Cabinet has agreed to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, International Trade & Cooperation signing a Protocol on Cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration of Croatia providing a framework for regular consultative meetings between the two countries to boost development of bilateral relations at various Ministerial and expert levels and for the exchange of views on multilateral issues of common interest.

10. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the Regional Conference on Literacy organised by UNESCO in Bamako, Mali, from 10 to 12 September 2007. The objectives of the African Regional Conference were, inter alia, to -

(i) provide powerful advocacy for literacy in Africa as part of the Literacy Initiative for Empowerment (LIFE) and the UN Literary Decade within Education For All;

(ii) build a coalition or partners, including Governments, NGOs, private providers and development agencies for effective national programmes in the framework of global initiatives such as the Millennium Development Goals and the Decade of Education for Sustainable Development; and

(iii) contribute to the accelerated implementation of the LIFE programme in Africa.