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Prime Minister's Office>Cabinet Decisions taken on 30 November 2007

Cabinet Decisions taken on 30 November 2007


1.Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the mission of Dr the Hon N. Ramgoolam, Prime Minister, to Kampala, Uganda, where he participated in the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), the special theme of which was “Transforming Societies to achieve Political, Economic and Human Development”.
The Meeting reaffirmed its commitment to the Commonwealth’s fundamental political values and adopted a statement on Climate Change –the Lake Victoria Climate Change Action Plan - wherein deep concern that climate change poses to human security and economic well-being, particularly to small island states and low lying coastal regions, and to their prospects for development and attainment of the Millennium Development Goals, had been expressed. The Commonwealth also called for increased financial flow for adaptation, additional incentives for developing countries, in particular through flexibility mechanisms and for commitments to enhance mitigation action.
The Meeting welcomed the collaboration of, among others, the Commonwealth Local Government Forum, of which the Minister of Local Government is the Vice- Chairperson, to promote best democratic practices. They reaffirmed their support for the Aberdeen Principles on Good Practice for Local Democracy and Good Governance and urged the Forum to continue its work in strengthening the role of local government in Commonwealth societies.
On a proposal of Mauritius, the current situation regarding the Sugar Protocol and its unilateral denunciation by the Economic Commission, as well as the need for the international community to provide all possible support to Small Island Developing States in their pursuit of their development strategies in line with their commitments under the Barbados Programme of Action and the Mauritius Strategy, was included in the final communiqué.
At the Commonwealth Foreign Affairs Ministers’ Meeting, which was also attended by Prince Charles, Mauritius proposed that a Special Unit be set up in the Commonwealth Secretariat to address all issues relating to the 25 Small Island Developing States who are members of the Commonwealth.
Cabinet further took note that, during the CHOGM Retreat, the Prime Minister had a tête-à-tête with the British Prime Minister when he stressed that, prior to the expiry of the Lease Agreement with the USA in 2016, discussions should start between Mauritius and Great Britain about the exercise of Mauritian sovereignty over the Chagos Archipelago. He also raised the question of the exercise of our fishing rights over the Chagos waters i.e., the Chagos Archipelago, excluding Diego Garcia where there is an American presence.
The Prime Minister also met His Excellency Mr James Alix Michel, President of the Republic of Seychelles who proposed the holding of a High Level Forum in Seychelles in either January or February 2008 with a view to conducting in-depth discussions on trade and economic issues relating to the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC).

2. Cabinet has taken note that the Ministry of Health and Quality of Life would circulate, for wide consultation, the draft Public Health (Restrictions on Tobacco Products) Regulations and the draft Public Health (Promotion on Advertisement Sponsorship and Restriction on Sale of Alcoholic Drinks) Regulations in view of the impact these regulations would have on consumers, particularly, the terms of the ban of smoking and use of alcoholic drinks in public places.
It has been deemed important to review the provisions governing alcoholic drinks in view of the health burden on family and society. The provisions relating to smoking are being reviewed to ensure compliance with the Articles of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control of the World Health Organisation, which had come into force in February 2005.

3.Cabinet has agreed to the introduction into the National Assembly of the HIV and AIDS (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill which amends the Civil Status Act and the Immigration Act to make better provision with regard to marriage between a citizen of Mauritius and a non-citizen who is HIV positive or has AIDS.

4.Cabinet has agreed to Mauritius, as a gesture of solidarity to the Comoros initiative, making a pledge of USD300,000 to support Comoros' efforts to clear its arrears with the African Development Bank.

5. Cabinet has taken note that the Mauritius-Pakistan Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA), signed on 30 July 2007, would become operational as from 30 November 2007. The Agreement would apply to a wide range of products. Tariff concessions would be extended on more than 100 tariff lines during the initial period and subsequently expanded during the course of future talks at the level of the Joint Working Group.

6. Cabinet has taken note that the Award Ceremony in connection with the Excellence Award for Education 2007, launched in March 2007, with a view to promoting and sustaining the culture of quality in the education system, would be held on Wednesday 5 December 2007 in the Auditorium of the Mahatma Gandhi Institute, Moka. Prizes would be awarded to the following categories, as decided by the Independent Jury Panel, set up by the Ministry of Education & Human Resources, under the chairmanship of Mr Philip Ah-Chuen –
(a) Best Creative Pre-School;
(b) Best Students’ Council/Body of Prefects;
(c) Best P.T.A. (Primary);

(d) Best P.T.A. (Secondary);
(e) Best Headteacher;
(f) Best Rector/Principal;
(g) Best Teacher (Primary);
(h) Best Teacher (Secondary);
(i) Best School (Primary); and
(j) Best School (Secondary).

7. Cabinet has taken note that Christmas would be celebrated at national level at Sir Gaëtan Duval Esplanade, Mahebourg Waterfront on Saturday 22 December 2007. The programme of activities would comprise –
(a) a défilé along the main roads of Mahebourg;
(b) a production based on Nativity to be illustrated by ‘Tableaux Vivants’;
(c) a performance by the winner of the Christmas Song Competition which would be organised by the Nelson Mandela Centre for African Culture; and
(d) sketches, popular songs and dances by local and foreign artists.

8.Cabinet has taken note that bilateral air services talks between the Aeronautical Authorities of Mauritius and those of the United Kingdom (UK) were held on 6 and 7 November 2007 and a new Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA) had been adopted in replacement to the one signed in 1973. A Memorandum of Understanding providing, inter alia, for the following had also been concluded :-
(i) The designated airline(s) of each Party to operate up to 12 weekly frequencies on the route Mauritius/UK and vice-versa with any aircraft type.
(ii) The designated airline(s) of Mauritius to exercise fifth freedom traffic rights on its services at any intermediate point in Continental Africa and the Gulf. Furthermore, it may exercise fifth freedom traffic rights on any two points in Europe whether intermediate or beyond from among the following points: Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Geneva, Madrid, Paris and Zurich.
(iii) The operation of all cargo services would be unlimited for both Parties on the designated route.
Cabinet has further taken note that, since independence, the highest number of Air Services Agreement has been concluded this year and Air Services Talks had been held with no less than 8 countries, most of which are characterized by high tourist potential, such as Italy, Reunion and Spain.

9. Cabinet has agreed to the introduction into the National Assembly of the Medical Council (Amendment) Bill which aims at amending the Medical Council Act to provide for the recognition of additional specialist qualifications, an increase in membership of the Medical Council, an enhanced control on qualifications obtained for the purpose of registration as a medical practitioner, and bringing the provision of the Act relating to disciplinary control in line with the Constitution.

10. Cabinet has taken note of the promulgation of the Investment Promotion (Real Estate Development Scheme) Regulations 2007, to give effect to the measures announced in the 2007-2008 Budget Speech relating to the Integrated Resort Scheme (IRS) and to the extension of the IRS to small landowners. The objective of the new Real Estate Scheme is to create opportunities for small landowners to participate in real estate development. The Scheme comprises:-
(i) an amended IRS for large landowners who own land of an extent exceeding 10 hectares; and
(ii) a Real Estate Scheme for small landowners who own, in the aggregate, land of an extent not exceeding 10 hectares.
The key features of the Scheme are -
(i) a project has to be developed on a plot of land of at least 0.4220 hectare
(1 arpent) but not exceeding 10 hectares;
(ii) only landowners having, in the aggregate, land not exceeding 10 hectares would qualify;
(iii) landowners may group their land provided the plots of land are contiguous and the total extent does not exceed 10 hectares; and
(iv) in order to ensure that maximum gains are derived by small land owners, they would be required to retain shares, in a company set up under the Scheme.

11. Cabinet has taken note that consultations are ongoing on the Employment Relations Bill and the Employment Rights Bill.

12. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the 65th Session of the Conseil Permanent de la Francophonie and the 23rd Session of the Conférence Ministérielle de la Francophonie held in Vientiane, Laos, on 15 and 21 November 2007.
The meetings considered, inter alia, the following issues –
(i) Political and Economic Matters;
(ii) Francophonie and international migration;
(iii) Cultural Diversity;
(iv) the Jeux de la Francophonie; and
(v) the French Language as a tool for solidarity and for the promotion of cultural and linguistic diversity.

13. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the mission of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Trade & Cooperation to Brussels from 8 to 14 November 2007 where he attended a number of meetings in the context of the EPA negotiations, viz.,-
(i) Meeting of Ministers responsible for EPA Negotiations and Trade which took note of the state of play in the EPA Negotiations;
(ii) African Union Trade Ministers Meeting which considered a common Africa position on the way forward.
(iii) ESA-European Commission Ministerial Meeting which agreed to an interim Agreement comprising of trade in goods, development and relevant areas where consensus had been reached, including fisheries;
(iv) Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius and Seychelles (CMMS) - European Commission Ministerial Meeting which discussed the peculiar situations of the island states and the need to include in the ESA development matrix specific projects to address their concerns.
In the margins of the Meetings, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Trade & Cooperation met Mr Pascal Lamy, Director General of WTO and HE Jacquelin Dugasse, Minister of Investment, Industries and Technology of Seychelles.