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Prime Minister's Office>Cabinet Decisions taken on 22 June 2007

Cabinet Decisions taken on 22 June 2007


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1. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the mission of Dr the Hon Navinchandra Ramgoolam, Prime Minister, to the United Kingdom between 4 and 9 June 2007.

The Prime Minister was invited by the Wilberforce Lecture Trust and the Hull and Humber Chamber of Commerce in the context of the commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act passed by the British Parliament in 1807. As part of its active role in supporting the commemoration events of the Wilberforce Bill, the Wilberforce Institute for the study of Slavery and Emancipation, established by the University of Hull to research in slavery, the black diaspora and contemporary issues of social justice, is hosting a series of lectures on the abolition of the slave trade. Two Prime Ministers, viz., Dr the Hon Navinchandra Ramgoolam, Prime Minister and the Hon Owen Arthur, Prime Minister of Barbados, have been selected to speak on slave trade. Two other personalities who have also been called upon to address the subject, are Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the Duke of York.

The Wilberforce Lecture Trust presented a medal of honour, The Wilberforce Medal, to the Prime Minister for upholding human rights.

The Prime Minister was taken on a visit to Wilberforce House, the birth place of William Wilberforce and now a museum, which showcases his life and work. It forms the centrepiece in the City of Hull's commemorations of the bicentary of the abolition of slave trade.

The Prime Minister was the guest of Honour at the annual exhibition – Chamber Expo 2007 – organised by the Hull and Humber Chamber of Commerce. He officially opened the Chamber Expo in which Mauritius had a stand. In his address, the Prime Minister spoke of the various opportunities for establishing business links between Hull and Humber region and Mauritius.

The Prime Minister also visited the Malet Lambert School Language College where the students presented a short play depicting slavery in Mauritius. The Rt Hon Alan Johnson, Secretary of State for Education and current Chairman of the British Labour Party welcomed the Prime Minister and they discussed bilateral cooperation in the field of education and training, particularly the possibility of increasing the number of Mauritian students studying in the UK. The Prime Minister also discussed the recent judgement on Chagos and the way forward. It was also agreed to the twining of Malet Lambert School with a secondary school in Mauritius.
The Prime Minister unveiled a Commemorative Centrepiece to the City of Hull in the presence of the Lord Mayor, the Leader of the Hull City Council and the Chair of the Wilberforce Lecture Trust. The Centrepiece symbolises the struggle for the abolition of slavery which William Wilberforce led and commemorates the 200th anniversary of the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act. The Centrepiece will be displayed permanently at the City Council.
The Prime Minister visited the University of Hull. Over the last 10 years, 34 Mauritian students graduated from the University in subjects ranging from Law, Chemistry, Health, Engineering and Business. In recognition of the visit of the Prime Minister, the Vice-Chancellor announced the establishment of a Scholarship Scheme for Mauritian students. The Scheme would allow three Mauritians to pursue postgraduate studies at the University. The scholarship would cover all the academic fees of the students and provide a contribution to their travel and living expenses.

The Prime Minister also visited Capio Yorkshire Clinic, on an invitation of its Board of Directors since he had worked as Resident Medical Officer from 1982 to 1985.

2. With a view to reducing the long delay in fixing for trial of criminal cases that have been lodged before the Supreme Court and to disposing of the number of cases of serious crimes committed as far back as 2002, Cabinet has agreed to the introduction into the National Assembly of the Courts (Amendment) Bill which amends the Courts Act to provide for the Supreme Court to be open throughout the year for the dispatch of criminal business, as is for other business.

3. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the visit of the Attorney General, Minister of Justice & Human Rights to London on 7 and 8 June 2007. During his visit, the Attorney General, Minister of Justice & Human Rights met the Right Honourable Lord Goldsmith, QC, Attorney General of the United Kingdom and had discussions with the Law Lords concerning the possibility of the Judicial Committee holding its sittings in Mauritius as from September 2008 to hear appeals and the modalities relating thereto. In this connection, the Attorney General also met the Right Honourable Lord Bingham of Cornhill, Senior Law Lord, Lord of Appeal and Privy Councillor, Lord Roger of Earlsferry, Lord Carswell, Lord Brown of Eaton-Under-Heywood and Lord Mance, as well as, the Registrar of the Privy Council, Mrs Mary Mc Donald.

The proposal for the Judicial Committee to sit in Mauritius was, in principle, accepted by the Judicial Committee. However, a further round of discussions would be held with the Registrar, who proposes to visit Mauritius from 10 to 15 September 2007.

4. As announced in the Budget Speech 2007-2008, Cabinet has taken note that the Ministry of Tourism, Leisure & External Communications, in collaboration with the Board of Investment, the Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority, Enterprise Mauritius and other private and public sector organisations, would spearhead a branding exercise for Mauritius with a view to obtaining maximum international recognition and to better projecting the image of Mauritius not only as an established tourist destination but also as a preferred location for investment and business. In the world of increasing intense competition, the exercise would differentiate Mauritius from the crowd and position the nation in the best possible way in order bring maximum benefits to our people.

Cabinet has further taken note that a Ministerial Committee under the chairmanship of the Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Tourism, Leisure & External Communications would be set up to oversee the branding exercise and to ensure national commitment.

5. Cabinet has taken note that a Fact Finding Committee has been set up under the chairmanship of a sitting Magistrate to look into the procurement of certain drugs in 2004 and 2005, for which adverse tests results had been received.

The Terms of Reference of the Fact Finding Committee are as follows:

(i) to inquire into the procurement of the incriminated drugs with a view to ascertaining:

(a) whether established procedures had been followed throughout the bidding exercise, i.e., from the preparation of tender documents to the delivery of the drugs; and

(b) whether the incriminated drugs were in accordance with specifications;
(ii) to inquire as to whether appropriate and prompt measures were taken following the receipt of results of tests carried out by the Control Laboratory in South Africa; and

(iii) to make such recommendations as appropriate.

6. Cabinet has taken note that the Certificate of Primary Education (CPE) examinations would be held on 23, 24, 25 and 26 October 2007.

A total of 26,593 candidates have been registered in Mauritius, including Rodrigues and Agalega, out of which 24,503 are school-going candidates and 2,090 are private candidates.

The CPE results would be released on 13 December 2007. Registration for admission in Form I and prevocational stream would be on 20 December 2007.

7. In line with the commitment taken by Government at the time of the closure of the Development Works Corporation, Cabinet has taken note of arrangements being made for the sale of the moveable assets of the Corporation, at a discounted price, to its former employees who have retired either voluntarily or on coming into operation of the DWC (Repeal) Act, with a view to enabling them to set up their own enterprises.

8. Cabinet has taken note that, with a view to empowering people, particularly those in deprived regions, and to promoting collective and group actions, the Ministry of Industry, Small & Medium Enterprises, Commerce & Cooperatives would provide full support and various incentives to encourage members of the public to group themselves in “Food Cooperative Societies” and to cultivate fruits on land available in their respective localities. They would be further guided in post-harvest processing and value-added activities.

The initiative would not only provide productive employment opportunities and partly solve social and economic problems associated with unemployment, but also eventually unleash latent entrepreneurial skills and contribute to increasing our export earnings.

9. Cabinet has taken note of the political situation in the Union of Comoros and has agreed to participate in a Ministerial Committee comprising South Africa, Tanzania, Mozambique, Madagascar, Seychelles and Mauritius scheduled for 23 June 2007 to find a diplomatic solution to the situation there. In this connection, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Trade & Cooperation would attend the meeting.

10. Cabinet has taken note of works undertaken at SADC level in respect of the enormous trade benefits that could be derived by SADC Member States in the context of the Soccer World Cup 2010 tournament, considered as the biggest sporting event and an opportunity for tourist attraction, to be held in South Africa.

Mauritius, accordingly, proposes to coincide the commemorations of the Bicentenary of the Naval Battle of Grand Port in Mauritius with the World Cup 2010 in South Africa. The possibility of holding a Tall Ships Race between Port Louis and Durban and training camps for World Cup 2010 in Mauritius is being explored.

11. Cabinet has taken note of activities being organised by the Ministry of Civil Service & Administrative Reforms in the context of Africa Day of the Civil Service and Administration and the UN Public Service Day which are celebrated jointly on 23rd June.

The purposes for celebrating the Africa Day of the Civil Service and Administration and the UN Public Service Day are to:

(a) reflect on the roles and functions of the Civil Service in terms of its mission and objectives, programmes and projects as well as its problems and challenges;

(b) give recognition to the efforts of public officers and to make known the importance of the Civil Service by way of its positive contributions and benefits to the population, the civil society, the private sector and government; and

(c) reward, motivate and encourage deserving officials for programmes and projects, for innovations and changes they have introduced and for which they deserve distinction.

The theme for this year's celebration is "Promoting Good Governance with emphasis on Anti-Corruption and Ethics".

12. Cabinet has taken note that Infotech 2007 and the ICT Regional Conference would be held at the Swami Vivekananda International Convention Centre from 8 to 12 August 2007. Infotech is an annual ICT event organised for promoting the development of the Information and Communication Technologies sector in Mauritius. It aims at creating awareness on latest and emerging information and communication technologies thereby promoting ICT as the next engine of economic growth in line with Government policy to make of ICT the fifth pillar of the economy.

13. Cabinet has taken note that the Ministry of Education & Human Resources has updated the List of Indicative Priority Fields of Study (LIPFS), taking into consideration shortage of skills in areas deemed to be of vital importance for the socio-economic development of the country and the projected supply of high-level human resources into the labour market in the short to medium terms. The LIPFS is a reference document for those embarking on higher studies, for the award of scholarships by either Government or donor agencies, as well as for capacity building at tertiary level.

14. Cabinet has taken note that the Fourth Consortium Agreement between the Tertiary Education Commission and the University Grants Commission of India was signed on 18 April 2007. The Agreement caters for emerging needs and challenges of the Tertiary Education Sector.

The Cultural Exchange Programme between Mauritius and India provides for educational exchanges in the Tertiary Education Sector. In order to supplement existing arrangements and organize more activities in pursuit of excellence and in the field of Tertiary Education and Research, the Tertiary Education Commission and the University Grants Commission of India have been collaborating for the last 14 years, particularly, in the exchanges of academic staff, non-academic staff and students for capacity building, upgrading qualifications and carrying out joint research programmes. Under the 3rd TEC/UGC Consortium Agreement, covering the period 2001 - 2006, the Tertiary Education Institutions received the support of UGC in promoting staff development and professional upgrading. During that period, 23 Mauritians benefited from the TEC/UGC Agreement. In the context of the review exercise, a three-member delegation led by Prof Sukhadeo Thorat, Chairman of the UGC, visited Mauritius from 15 to 19 April 2007 and had discussion with the Tertiary Education Commission.

Under the Fourth Consortium Agreement, the following main schemes would be provided –

M.Phil/PhD. programme, Upgrading of teaching skills, Visiting scholars, Capacity building for Staff and non-teaching staff, Academic Exchange programme and Presentation of papers in Conference/Seminars.

15. Cabinet has taken note of the recommendations made by KPMG in its report on the Review of Cess Funded Service Providing institutions.

KPMG was entrusted to –

(i) examine the structure and functions of all the institutions financed by cess derived from sugar proceeds and recommend cost cutting measures and appropriate number of organisations required to promote the development of the sugar cane industry and co-products on an efficient basis, with particular reference to the provisions of services relating to land preparation and cultivation, marketing and product diversification, quality control for sugar and sugar co-products and research and extension; and

(ii) advise on the most effective and efficient ways of providing such services bearing in mind the future price decreases in sugar, centralization of sugar factories and setting up of power plants in Mauritius.

The Ministry of Agro Industry & Fisheries proposes to discuss the recommendations with all stakeholders.

16. Cabinet has taken note that, in the context of the Economic Partnership Agreement Negotiations, the Twelfth Regional Negotiating Forum and Dedicated Sessions on Fisheries, Market Access, Trade Related issues, and Development, organised by the COMESA Secretariat, would be held in Mauritius from 23 July to 3 August 2007.

The purpose of the dedicated sessions is to form up the position of the Eastern Southern Africa Group in the light of the outcome of technical level discussions which took place between the Group and the European Union last month.

17. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the Twelfth Summit of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) Authority of Heads of State and Government which was held on 22 and 23 May 2007 in Nairobi, Republic of Kenya. The Summit was preceded by the Twenty-third Meeting of the Council of Ministers, and the following meetings were held in the margins of the Summit -

(a) the Seventh Eastern and Southern Africa Ministerial Meeting;

(b) the Business Forum; and

(c) Fourth Round Table of COMESA First Ladies.

The theme of the Summit was: “Deepening Regional Integration for diversification and Value Addition”.

The Summit, inter alia, -

(a) adopted the COMESA Common External Tariff Structure of a four band category of raw material with the provision of flexibility on policy space;

(b) welcomed the resumption of the WTO Doha Development Agenda negotiations earlier this year and reiterated that the WTO negotiations process should be transparent, all-inclusive and open to all members;

(c) urged member States to pursue the adoption of laws on e-legislation, including on computer crime and electronic Transactions; and

(d) urged member States to promote value adding technologies and agro-processing industries as part of the diversification of the economies.

18. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the participation of the Minister of Social Security, National Solidarity and Senior Citizens Welfare & Reform Institutions in the Bi-Regional Conference on Social Protection and Poverty Reduction held in South Africa, from 6 to 9 June 2007. This Conference focused mainly on challenges in the field of social protection and poverty reduction facing countries in the Southern African Region and Latin America.

In the margins of the Conference, the Minister of Social Security, National Solidarity and Senior Citizens Welfare & Reform Institutions met Mr Terry McKinley, Director of the International Poverty Centre, with whom she discussed technical cooperation programmes.

19. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the First African Union (AU) Conference of Ministers of Sports held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia from 7 to 8 June 2007 which was attended by the Minister of Youth & Sports.

The First Session of the AU Conference of Ministers of Sports was held to -

(a) serve as a catalyst towards the harmonization of sports policies and programmes on a continental basis, in pursuit of using sports as a vehicle for the promotion of integration, solidarity, peace and healthy lifestyle; and
(b) consider the programme of activities for the International Year of African Football 2007 and for ushering in the hosting of the 2010 Soccer World Cup by South Africa.

The Conference considered, inter alia, -

(i) the AU Commission’s Policy and Programme on Sports;

(ii) the Report of Activities regarding the International Year of African Football;

(iii) the Programme of Activities (2007-2010) in the context of the 2010 Football World Cup;

(iv) preparations for the All Africa Games and the Afro-Asian Games scheduled in Algeria in July 2007; and

(v) preparations for the African Athletics Championships to be held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in May 2008.

20. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the 8th Commonwealth Women’s Affairs Ministers Meeting held in Kampala, Uganda, from 11 to 14 June 2007 which had as theme “Financing Gender Equality for Development and Democracy”.
The following issues were addressed during the Meeting -
(a) Tracking the Money for Gender Equality;
(b) National Women’s Machineries and Public Sector: Role in Financing Gender Equality;
(c) Financing HIV and AIDS Interventions: Implications for Gender Equality; and
(d) Investing in Gender Equality: Promoting Peace and Democracy.

21. Cabinet has taken note of the re-election of Professor Indurlall Fagoonee, Pro-
Vice-Chancellor at the University of Mauritius to the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf. This election is a marked recognition of our track record on democracy, good governance, the rule of law, the promotion and protection of human rights, and our participation and contribution to the promotion of the UN ideals and the multilateral system.