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Prime Minister's Office>Cabinet Decisions taken on 08 February 2008

Cabinet Decisions taken on 08 February 2008

1. Cabinet has taken note that the Second Meeting of the Indo-Mauritian Joint Working Group on Combating International Terrorism would be held in Mauritius on 11 and 12 February 2008. The Joint Working Group was set up following an Agreement signed by the two countries to, inter alia, -

(i) share experience in combating international terrorism, organized crime and illicit trafficking in arms, narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances and their linkages;

(ii) coordinate approaches to combat such international terrorism and terrorist acts, organized crime, syndicates and groups dealing in drug trafficking, trafficking in arms, money laundering and other economic offences; and

(iii) exchange information on activities of terrorists and organized criminal groups and their associates that may operate from or use the territories of Mauritius and India.

During the Second Meeting, the Joint Working Group would, among other things, -

(i) review progress achieved in the implementation of the recommendations of the First Meeting; and

(ii) work into avenues of cooperation in combating international terrorism, money laundering and related matters, as well as in the field of Marine Security.

2. Cabinet has taken note that, following reports received from various quarters, the Ministry of Women's Rights, Child Development, Family Welfare & Consumer Protection, in collaboration with the National Children's Council, the "Brigade pour la Protection des Mineurs" and some Non-Governmental Organisations, carried out crackdown operations since January 2008 to discourage children from loitering in public places, particularly at bus terminals, commercial arcades, places of amusement including video game houses and other licensed premises, waterfronts and in other places of entertainment. The operations revealed that quite a large number of children were playing truant and not attending school. A series of measures, including amendment to legislation, to better control truancy, are being taken.

3. In line with Government's objective to bring health services closer to the population, Cabinet has taken note that outpatient cardiology services would be available at Flacq Hospital and J. Nehru Hospital shortly.

4. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the first meeting of the Governing Council of the World Hindi Secretariat held on 28 January 2008 in New Delhi, India, under the Chairmanship of Shri Pranab Mukherjee, Minister of External Affairs of India. The Mauritian delegation was led by the Minister of Education & Human Resources and comprised, inter alia, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Trade & Cooperation.

Cabinet has further taken note that, in his address at the opening of the Meeting, Shri Pranab Mukherjee recalled that during the World Hindi Conference held in Nagpur, India, in January 1975, Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam, then Prime Minister of Mauritius, while highlighting the need to set up a World Hindi Secretariat for the promotion of Hindi as an international language, also proposed that the institution be established in Mauritius. It is only now, i.e., three decades later, that the dream has been realised through collective efforts of both Governments.

Cabinet has also taken note that the Secretariat will officially start functioning as from 11 February 2008, with Dr (Mrs) V.B. Arun as Secretary General.

During his visit, the Minister of Education & Human Resources, as a special guest, made an address at an International Conference organised by the Prestige Institute of Management and Research, Indore, on the theme “Navigating Globalization through Quality Initiatives”. The Minister was conferred the “Excellence Award in Management” by the Institute. The Minister also had bilateral meetings for collaboration on tertiary education with eminent personalities of tertiary institutions.

5. Cabinet has taken note of the position regarding Voluntary Retirement Schemes I and II and the Early Retirement Scheme (ERS). Cabinet has also taken note of developments regarding the issue of title deeds to workers who have retired under VRS I, as well as, of progress made in infrastructural works on the VRS sites.
8,027 workers have retired under VRS I and more than 6,522 workers, i.e., around 80%, have obtained their title deeds; the others would receive their deeds once procedures are finalized. Infrastructural works are still being carried out on certain sites which would be allocated to workers shortly. Following the successful conclusion of the win-win deal between Government and the Mauritius Sugar Producers Association on 5 December 2007 regarding the sugar reforms, the Mauritius Sugar Authority had working sessions with all applicants of VRS to chart out a work plan for the different activities so that procedures could be urgently finalized.
As at date, 6,424 workers have opted for VRS II, 164 for ERS and 440 for Blue Pint, i.e., 7,028 in total. 4,277 workers have expressed interest to enrol in training schemes, out of which, 1,865 are already undergoing training. So far, some 400 employees have been redeployed and 100 are self-employed.

6. Pending the implementation of the Report of Mr I. Mytakidis, Consultant, on the problem of transport of mogas on board fishing vessels, Cabinet has agreed to extending the moratorium to allow bank fishing operators to carry mogas on board their fishing vessels for a further period of one year as from March 2008 in order not to disrupt bank fishing activities.

7. Cabinet has taken note of the Wastewater Sector Policy Statement for the period 2008-2013 which contains detailed information about Government policy regarding the reform in the Water and Sanitation Sectors taking into consideration the need to protect, restore and manage the environment. A National Sewerage Programme has been developed with a view to increasing the coverage of the sewerage infrastructure so that 50% of the total population could benefit from public sewer by 2010 and providing adequate wastewater treatment facilities.

8. Cabinet has taken note that a survey carried out by the Agricultural Research and Extension Unit, has revealed that bats have damaged 10%-25% of fruits in commercial orchards and 60%-80% in backyards fruit trees and that according to another survey carried out by the National Parks and Conversation Service, bat population has increased considerably. In the circumstances, it is proposed to amend the Wildlife and National Parks Act to enable the culling of any protected species when it reaches pest level. The amendment would, therefore, help monitor damages caused to fruits by bats in commercial orchards and backyards.

9. Cabinet has taken note that four of the Mauritian crew members of Fishing Vessel "Ouma", who were rescued on 31 January 2008 by Norwegian Vessel "F.V. Morning Rose" in the vicinity of St. Brandon, are safe and arrangements have been made for their repatriation. They are expected to reach Mauritius on 9 February 2008.

10. In line with Government’s vision to make Mauritius a financial and business hub in the region, Cabinet has agreed to Government making a bid for the relocating of the Headquarters of the African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim Bank) in Mauritius. The objectives of the Bank are to facilitate, promote and expand intra and extra-African trade, provide trade finance through issuance of letters of credit and guarantees to cover commercial and non-commercial risks and provide equity to African exporters and importers. The volume of trade finance activities of the Bank has, in the past two years, been around USD 550 million. The relocation of the Bank would further broaden our financial market by integrating it into the African trade finance market and bring extensive linkages in the local economy for the providers of legal, financial and IT services as well as the hotel services.

11. Cabinet has taken note that the World Health Organisation would hold its first Quarterly Southern African Regional Network Steering Committee Meeting in Mauritius from 3 to 5 March 2008. The Meeting would be followed by a Study Tour on the Mauritian experience on malaria control for the benefit of SADC member states.

The objectives of the Study Tour are, inter alia, to –

(a) learn from Mauritius, its experiences in malaria elimination;

(b) review documents or any literature on how Mauritius achieved malaria elimination and on the establishment of an ongoing surveillance;

(c) observe the way malaria surveillance is done at the port; and
(d) use the Mauritian model and tour observation to develop the next steps in the SADC malaria elimination initiative.

12. Cabinet has taken note of developments in renovation/upgrading works being carried out at Dr Maurice Curé State College. Phase I of the project, i.e., the construction of a block of 12 classrooms and a toilet block, was completed in December 2007 and Phase II comprising the construction of an administrative block, demolition of three colonial buildings and the construction of a covered link, ramps and sundry site works, started on 31 January 2008 and would be completed by June 2008.

13. Cabinet has taken note of the mission of the Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Public Infrastructure, Land Transport & Shipping to Addis Ababa where he attended the Tenth Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union which was held from 31 January to 2 February 2008.

The Assembly focussed much of its discussions on the issue of the Union Government, and Peace and Security-related matters, particularly those pertaining to the situation in Chad and the Comoros and issues of the reform of the UN and negotiation of EPAs with the European Union.
The theme of discussion chosen for the 10th Summit of the AU was "Industrial Development in Africa". In view of the importance of the issue of industrialisation of Africa, the Assembly called upon the AU Commission, in collaboration with relevant agencies, to present to the Assembly, every two years, a progress report on the state of industrialisation in Africa.

In the margins of the Conference, the Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Public Infrastructure, Land Transport & Shipping had bilateral discussions with the Director-General of the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), Dr Kandeh Yumkella with whom he evoked the importance for UNIDO to re-invigorate its development strategy vis-à-vis Mauritius as the Organisation has been virtually absent from the mainstream development process of the country for the last 15 years.

14. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the First COMESA Fund Ministerial Meeting held in Mauritius on 31 January 2008.

The COMESA Fund is an instrument designed to -
(a) provide grants or loans for financing research and development activities and feasibility studies promoting regional integration;

(b) provide means to facilitate the sustained mobilization of internal and external financial resources for Member States; and

(c) promote regional integration through development projects in Member States.

The main decisions reached include –

(a) the need to enlarge the scope of the Contribution Agreement (CA) between COMESA and the EU with regard to its adjustment facility in order to address social adjustment costs in addition to revenue loss arising out of tariff cuts; and

(b) the setting up of a COMESA Infrastructure Company in order to effectively mobilise private sector contributions, such as an offshore company, for the ownership and management of the Fund.

15. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the mission of the Minister of Public Utilities to Abu Dhabi from 21 to 23 January, 2008 where he attended the World Future Energy Summit. The objective of the Summit was to delve into the need to develop alternative sources of safe, reliable, clean, affordable energy, viz., solar, wind power, bio-mass, bio-fuel, hydrogen fuel, geothermal and wave energy.

16. Cabinet has taken note of the mission of the Minister of Social Security, National Solidarity and Senior Citizens Welfare & Reform Institutions to India where she attended a special function organized by the Jagatik Marathi Chamber of Commerce and Industries in Mumbai in the margins of the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas. On that occasion, she was conferred an award for her remarkable contribution as the only person of Maharashtrian origin hailing from western Maharashtra shouldering responsibilities of Cabinet Minister.

During her visit, the Minister of Social Security, National Solidarity and Senior Citizens Welfare & Reform Institutions also met Hon Smt Meira Kumar, Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment, with whom she worked out the modalities pertaining to the implementation of a Memorandum of Understanding signed in Mauritius and identified priority areas of co-operation between the two countries in the field of social security. The Minister of Social Security, National Solidarity and Senior Citizens Welfare & Reform Institutions, inter alia, visited charitable institutions and had meetings with high Indian personalities.

17. Cabinet has taken note of the reconstitution of the Mauritius Agricultural Marketing Board with Mr Shekar Deewoo as Chairperson.