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Prime Minister's Office>Cabinet Decisions taken on 23 March 2007

Cabinet Decisions taken on 23 March 2007

1. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the meeting the Prime Minister had, on 22 March 2007, with students and the representatives of the platform of citizens on the payment of SC and HSC examination fees and has agreed that, exceptionally for this year, 25% of the cost of the examination fees would be paid by Government for the students not already benefiting from a subsidy under the new policy.
The system for this year would, therefore, be as follows –
Government would meet –
(a) the full cost of examinations fees of students whose parents are beneficiaries of Social Aid, Unemployment Hardship Relief and Basic Pensions and those whose monthly income is up to Rs7,500;
(b) 50% of the cost of examination fees of the students in cases where more than one student 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; and
(c) 25% of the cost of examination fees for other students.
The cost of subsidizing SC and HSC examination fees this year would be between Rs140m and Rs150m. This would be financed by an equivalent reallocation in Government’s contribution to the Budget of the MTPA. Government is asking profitable enterprises in the Hotel and Banking Sectors, as a gesture of solidarity, to exceptionally contribute to the MTPA budget this year to make good the shortfall.

2. Cabinet has agreed to the elaboration of an appropriate strategy for the development of Port Louis Harbour into a major transshipment hub with a view to better capturing substantial growth in traffic, as well as foreign direct investment. With the adoption of an appropriate development strategy, transshipment traffic presently standing at over 93,000 TEU’s could grow in the medium term to at least 800,000 TEU’s, with even more prospects in the longer term.
The new development strategy would ensure that the Port moves to a higher level of productivity through, inter alia, –
(a) optimum utilization of existing prime port infrastructure;
(b) substantial increase in container handling capacity;
(c) quick turnaround for container vessels;
(d) reduced waiting time for ships;
(e) terminal services of international class to the shipping community;
(f) opportunity to bring technical expertise of international level; and
(g) cost effective port services, through a healthy competition between service providers.

3. As a backdrop to the forthcoming Budget exercise, Cabinet has taken note, inter alia, of –
(i) progress made with fiscal consolidation that would create fiscal space by 2009/10 for productive and high impact public spending;
(ii) improvements in the quality of spending over the coming three years that would improve outcomes and outputs from public spending; and
(iii) reforms in 2007/08 and 2008/09 necessary to achieve these objectives.
Cabinet has further taken note that the key priority of the economic reform programme launched in the 2006-2007 Budget was fiscal consolidation and public debt sustainability in order to provide room by 2009/10 to have the fiscal space to embark on -
(i) an ambitious public investment programme supported by high impact
development spending;
(ii) further expanding the amount of social protection to those who really need it; and
(iii) further democratising of the economy by empowering people via programmes that help them help themselves by upgrading their skills or supporting their efforts to become entrepreneurs.

4. Cabinet has agreed to the introduction into the National Assembly of the State Land (Amendment) Bill which provides for the sale of the State Lands on which stand the ex-CHA houses to their current residents at a nominal price of Rs 2000.

5. Cabinet has taken note that according to the last statistical bulletin published by the Ministry of Tourism, Leisure & External Communications, 72,338 tourists visited Mauritius in February 2007 as compared to 64,894 in February 2006, i.e., an increase of 11.5%.
Statistics have also confirmed that –
(i) Reunion Island, our second tourist market, has registered a growth of 2.5% as compared to February 2006; and
(ii) The French market continues to recover from the decline noted since March 2006. It has registered a growth of 5.2% as compared to February 2006.
The other markets have registered growth as follows:
Italy (+6.7%), Germany (+18.0%), UK (+1.0%), Sweden (+137.7%),
Netherlands (+41.8%), Spain (+34.0%), Austria (+16.3%), Belgium (+11.0%),
India (+30%), Switzerland (+2.5%), Republic of South Africa (+7.8%) and Australia (+26.7%).
The success recorded is mainly due to the aggressive promotion campaigns in new and emerging markets to increase the visibility and create the awareness of Mauritius as an attractive tourist destination.

6. Cabinet has taken note that a Court of Investigation would be set up under the Merchant Shipping Act to enquire into the circumstances of the disappearance of the fishing vessels King Fish II and King Fish V.
Cabinet has further taken note that the Ministry of Women's Rights, Child Development, Family Welfare & Consumer Protection is extending psychological support to families of the fishermen who disappeared at sea with a view to relieving them of the anguish they are facing.

7. Cabinet has taken note that the case of 92 lessees of housing units of the National Housing Development Company and the Mauritius Housing Company who had not paid their rent, was referred to the Supreme Court for Sale by Levy. Subsequent to the appointment of the Commissioner for the Protection of Borrowers, Cabinet has further taken note that the case of 78 lessees on whom social enquiry has been completed, would be referred to the Commissioner for appropriate action.

8. Cabinet has taken note of arrangements being made by the Ministry of Women's Rights, Child Development, Family Welfare & Consumer Protection for the good management of the Shelter for Women and Children in Distress at Albion, viz. -
(a) one Family Support Officer, having the necessary experience in dealing with children victims of abuse, abandonment and neglect, has been entrusted the responsibility of the Shelter;
(b) security aspects have been stepped up at the shelter and the Police of Albion has, also, been requested to effect regular patrols; and
(c) a weekly visit by a medical team.

9. Cabinet has taken note that the World Health Day, meant to raise awareness on key global health issues, would be celebrated on 7 April 2007. The theme chosen by the World Health Organisation for the year 2007 is 'International Health Security – Outbreaks and Crisis'. The objective is to urge governments, organisations and businesses to "invest in health and build a safer future".
Cabinet has further taken note of the activities organized to mark the Workd Health Day, which would comprise, inter alia, of –
(i) an Exhibition at the Rajiv Gandhi Science Centre from 4 to 7 April, 2007;
(ii) a Non-Communicable Diseases screening and a blood collection exercise on 7 April, 2007 on the premises of the Rajiv Gandhi Science Centre;
(iii) a “plateau” on MBC/TV on 7 April, 2007 comprising various relevant departments; and
(iv) a "Quinzaine de la Jeunesse" and breast and cervical cancer screening at Cité Martial, Port Louis.

10. With a view to enabling persons with disability to integrate economic life, Cabinet has taken note that the Training and Employment of Disabled Persons Board (TEDPB) and the Small Enterprises and Handicraft Development Authority (SEDHA) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding which aims at -
(i) extending all facilities to persons with disabilities who are capable of running a small business;
(ii) assisting the TEDP Board in securing employment opportunities for persons with disabilities in the SME sector;
(iii) sensitizing the disabled community about entrepreneurship;
(iv) assisting in the marketing of products manufactured by disabled entrepreneurs;
(v) providing assistance, whenever possible, for the training of disabled entrepreneurs.

11. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the visit of the Minister of Agro Industry & Fisheries to India where he attended the India-Africa Agri Food Summit held from 07 to 08 March 2007 in New Delhi.
The Summit which was attended by India, Mauritius, Nigeria, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, South Africa, Senegal, Angola and Uganda, aimed at enhancing partnership in the agriculture, agrifood, processing and allied sectors between India and the agrarian economies of Africa, through sharing of experiences knowledge, technology and business opportunities.
In the margins of the Summit, the Minister of Agro Industry & Fisheries had meetings with businessmen and other stakeholders, which resulted in -
(i) the setting up of an Agri Incubator for entrepreneurship development in Agro industry in Mauritius, in collaboration with the Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce & Industry;
(ii) collaboration with the Indian Council of Agricultural Research for improvement of the litchi and banana sector; and
(iii) the exchange of germ plasm and to develop the seed industry, in collaboration with the Indian National Seed Corporation Ltd.