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Prime Minister's Office>Cabinet Decisions taken on 27 July 2007

Cabinet Decisions taken on 27 July 2007


1. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the official visit of Dr the Honourable Navinchandra Ramgoolam, Prime Minister, to the People's Republic of China from 10 to 16 July 2007. The Prime Minister was accompanied, inter alia by the Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Finance & Economic Development. The visit coincided with the historic visit of Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam in 1972, which had opened a new chapter in the relations between the two countries.

In Beijing, the Prime Minister –

(a) had a cordial meeting with Mr Hu Jintao, Chinese President;
(b) had bilateral talks with Mr Wen Jiabao, Chinese Premier;
(c) visited the Research and Development Department of the Huawei Technologies, one of the world's leading suppliers of networking and telecommunications equipment; and
(d) attended the signature ceremony of the lease agreement of the land at Riche Terre with Shanxi Tianli Enterprise Group.

Cabinet has taken note that, in view of the long standing trade and economic cooperation between Mauritius and China and the economic reform undertaken by Government, the Chinese Government has decided to extend the following assistance package to Mauritius -

(i) a grant of RMB 10 million;
(ii) an interest-free loan of RMB 30 million;
(iii) a soft loan of RMB 800 million span over a period of three years, i.e., Rs 3.5 billion representing a threefold increase over the current level of financial assistance;
(iv) 16 additional scholarships (besides the existing 35) for Mauritians to study in various fields;
(v) the despatch of 6 to 10 experts in areas of need; and
(vi) the provision of equipment for the health sector.

The Prime Minister extended an invitation to both the Chinese President and the Chinese Premier to visit Mauritius.

Cabinet has also taken note that the Prime Minister, together with the Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Finance & Economic Development, -

(a) visited the Jianghuai Automobile Group Co. Ltd situated in Hefei, which produces heavy and multi-function business vehicles, cars, 4×4, and coaches;
(b) met Mauritian students studying in Beijing and other parts of China;
(c) attended a Business Lunch hosted by the HSBC in Hong Kong, wherein the Mauritian delegation was apprised of the decision of the HSBC to put up its headquaters for the region at Ebène; and
(d) participated in investment promotion campaigns in Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong.
Cabinet has further taken note that the Investment Promotion Missions to China and Hong Kong had several plenary sessions and bilateral meetings with Chinese companies. Over 500 Chinese participants attended the plenary sessions. During the meetings, Chinese companies showed keen interest in investing in the Mauritius Tianli Economic and Trade Cooperation Zone, the ICT sector, banking & insurance, textiles, financial and energy sectors.

2. Cabinet has taken note that, during the meeting of the Commonwealth Local Government Forum for South Asia held in India last week, the Minister of Local Government, in his capacity as Vice-President of the Commonwealth Local Government Forum, and in the presence of Hon Kumari Selja, Minister of State of the Republic of India, presented a motion of congratulation on the election of Mrs Pratibha Patil as President of the Republic of India. His motion was seconded by Mr Carl Wright, Secretary General of the Forum.

3. Cabinet has agreed to the introduction into the National Assembly of the Finance Bill 2007 which provides for the implementation of measures announced in Budget Speech 2007-2008 and for the strengthening and streamlining of certain provisions relating mainly to revenue and public finance.

4. Cabinet has taken note that Mr Humayun Akhtar Khan, Minister of Commerce of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, would be on official visit to Mauritius on 30 July 2007. During the visit, he would sign a Preferential Trade Agreement and related Memoranda of Understanding, and unveil the name plate of the "Quaid-e-Azam Mohamud Ali Jinnah Street."

5. In line with the commitment taken by Government to assist victims of sale by levy and as announced in the Budget Speech 2007/2008 for helping deserving families who have lost their only residence, to acquire a house, Cabinet has taken note that a High Level Committee has been set up under the chairmanship of the Financial Secretary to consider requests for assistance on a case-to-case basis.

6. In line with Government Programme 2005-2010 to democratize opportunities of access to mainstream economic resources to a larger section of the population and to promote and facilitate the emergence of a nation of creative and innovative entrepreneurs, Cabinet has agreed to the implementation of a project relating to the setting up of restaurants and tourist-related activities in tourist-concentrated areas, as well as in economically deprived regions of the island, with high economic potential, in a bid to induce development.

The objectives of the project are to :-

(i) foster entrepreneurship and pave the way to economic democratization;
(ii) raise the level of development in economically deprived regions;
(iii) create employment opportunities for local residents and alleviate social problems;
(iv) ensure an even development throughout the island; and
(v) create economic dynamism in surrounding regions by providing employment opportunities and markets for vegetables, meat and support services.

It is estimated that, initially, some 150 direct jobs, such as waiters, barmen, managerial staff and general workers, could be created under the project.

7. Cabinet has taken note that, in line with the philosophy spelt out in Budget Speech 2007/2008, the Ministry of Education & Human Resources, in collaboration with the Human Resource Development Council, has launched a pilot project for the placement of about 240 Form VI students of secondary schools, as well as third year students of prevocational schools, in some 30 enterprises and organizations, such as the Mauritius Revenue Authority, SEHDA, Airports of Mauritius Ltd, the National Transport Authority, the South East Asian Bank, the British American Insurance, etc., for a duration of two weeks to allow them to gain exposure to the realities of the world of work.
The project aims at bridging the gap between the schooling system and the world of work, thereby enabling the theoretical dimensions of the school curriculum to be blended with the practical realities that students face after school.

8. Cabinet has taken note that the Ministry of Education & Human Resources is formulating a Strategy Paper for the Education and Training Sector 2008-2020 with a view to improving the current education and training system, and building a pool of human resources for higher value-added, innovative, knowledge-based and skill-intensive activities in the existing as well as new and emerging economic sectors.

9. Cabinet has taken note of the visit of a delegation of the Senior Citizens Council of Delhi, India from 29 July to 5 August 2007. The main objectives of the exchange programme are to provide opportunities to senior citizens of both countries to interact, exchange views and share expertise in the field of ageing and intergeneration programme.

10. Cabinet has taken note that the Lady Sushil Ramgoolam School of Nursing, Health Sciences and Paramedics, a private nursing school, has been set up and would operate in close collaboration with the University of Bedfordshire of UK. The project involves the construction of a campus as well as other amenities, such as lecture theatres, laboratories, a residential hostel, guest rooms, an auditorium and a diagnostic centre. Cabinet has further taken note that the Ministry of Health and Quality of Life has agreed, in principle, to accede to the request of the School for the provision of clinical training facilities to 100 student nurses annually in public health institutions.

11. Cabinet has taken note that a Regional Training Workshop on Clearinghouse Mechanism and Information Sharing System on Eastern African Coastal and Marine Environment would be held from 13 to 17 August 2007 at the Training and Research Centre of the Meteorological Services with a view to developing a comprehensive data base on marine and coastal environment of countries of the Western Indian Ocean region.

The marine and coastal environment in the Western Indian Ocean region is of high ecological and economic value. However, the coastal zones are being increasingly affected by pollution and climate change resulting in loss of biological diversity. As countries in the WIO currently lack vital information and data to adequately manage environmental threats, the Clearinghouse Mechanism would enable WIO countries to better access accurate scientific, technical, environmental and legal information for the protection and sustainable development of the coastal and marine environment. The Clearinghouse Mechanism would also contribute to avoid duplication of efforts in data collection on the part of countries in the WIO region.

12. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the meeting of the Ministerial Committee of the Countries of the Region on the Comoros held in Pretoria, South Africa on 8 and 9 July 2007 with a view to finding a solution to the crisis in the Comoros. The meeting stressed that issues of governance, including the inadequacies of the current constitutional arrangements, and capacity building were amongst the most serious challenges facing the Comoros and there was a need to address them effectively.

13. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the mission of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Trade & Cooperation to Ghana where he participated in –

(a) the Ministerial Consultative Group Meeting which aimed at elaborating a common position of the AGOA eligible countries for the Sixth AGOA Forum.

(b) The Sixth AGOA Forum which aimed at finding practical solutions to increasing the effectiveness of AGOA implementation. The issues of particular interest to Mauritius included, inter alia, facilitating agriculture, trade and development, broadening opportunities under AGOA in textile and clothing and agri-business.

(c) The Agri-Business Africa Exhibition and Conference organised by Agrifica which focussed on the technology and inputs necessary to make Agri-business work by linking needs to resources, capacity building and training.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Trade & Cooperation also had a meeting with Ambassador Suzanne Schwab, US Trade Representative, with whom he discussed, inter alia, issues like market access in agriculture and Non-Agricultural Market Access (NAMA), in the context of the Doha negotiations.

14. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the mission of the Minister Education & Human Resources to New York from 13 to 15 July 2007 where he participated in 8th World Hindi Conference.

The main resolutions taken at the Conference were, inter alia, –

(a) the development of a website on “Vishwa Manch Per Hindi” in order to popularize Hindi;
(b) the preparation of a standardized syllabus for teaching Hindi as a second language and the design of a system to accord recognition for Hindi teachers;
(c) writing of simple and useful Hindi books on science, technology and technical subjects, and popularization of information technology in Hindi; and
(d) consideration being given for the setting up of Hindi chairs in foreign universities.

In the margins of the Conference, the Minister of Education & Human Resources met Heads of Missions/Ambassadors at the UN Headquarters and Her Excellency Asha-Rose Migiro, Deputy Secretary General of UN with whom matters pertaining to education & training were raised.

15. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the mission of the Minister of Women’s Rights, Child Development, Family Welfare & Consumer Protection to Maputo where she participated in the 2007 Meeting of SADC Ministers Responsible for Gender/Women’s Affairs.

The Meeting examined and approved of a Protocol on Gender and Development relating to rationalizing and enhancing the implementation of all existing commitments to gender equality, namely the Beijing Declaration and its Platform for Action, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the Millennium Development Goals (MDG’s), the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, and the SADC Declaration on Gender and Development.

The SADC Gender Policy which provides guidelines that may improve synergies between National and Regional structures, mechanisms and programmes, was also finalized.