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Prime Minister's Office>Cabinet Decisions taken on 11 July 2008

Cabinet Decisions taken on 11 July 2008

1. Cabinet has taken note that, following Government’s decision to implement the 40-hour week in the Sugar Industry during crop season, there was no consensus on a few issues, particularly the computation of overtime, among the stakeholders. Cabinet has further taken note that in view of the complexity of the issues raised and the stand taken by the parties concerned, the Minister of Labour, Industrial Relations & Employment has decided to refer those matters to the National Remuneration Board for consideration and appropriate recommendations.

2. In line with the commitment taken by Government, Cabinet has agreed to the introduction into the National Assembly of the Local Government (Amendment) Bill which provides for the payment of remuneration to the Lord Mayor, the Deputy Lord Mayor, Mayors, Deputy Mayors, Chairmen of District and Village Councils, Deputy Chairmen of District Councils and all Municipal and District Councillors.

3. Cabinet has agreed to the introduction into the National Assembly of the Additional Remuneration Bill which provides for the payment, with effect from 1 July 2008, of salary compensation for increase in the cost of living, as recommended by the National Pay Council, to all employees of the private sector.

4. Cabinet has taken note that, in view of the increasing demand, the number of colleges admitting students on a national basis would be increased from 12 to 15 by including Piton State College (Boys), Sir Leckraz Teeluck State Secondary School (Boys), Flacq, and France Boyer de la Giroday SSS (Girls), Plaine Magnien on the list. A total of 1890 seats (945 boys and 945 girls) would therefore be offered in the National Colleges and 6095 seats in Regional State Schools. It would also solve the problem of distance encountered by some students.

5. Cabinet has taken note of the findings of the Fact Finding Committee chaired by Mr Nicolas François Oh San-Bellepeau, District Magistrate, set up in August 2007 to investigate into discrepancies noted in the results of candidates who sat for French Paper 3014 in the Cambridge School Certificate Examinations in November 2006.
The Committee has concluded that there was no set of approved rules in place at the Mauritius Examinations Syndicate (MES) on electronic transmission of data to Cambridge International Examinations during the Grade Review Exercise. The Committee has recommended, inter alia, -
(a) The MES should audit, compile and finalize a Manual of Procedures and Practices for the benefit of the personnel of the two Sections involved in Grade Review.
(b) An acknowledgement of all data and contents should prevail within all Sections of the MES, particularly those concerned with transmission of sensitive and confidential records.
(c) The computer programs designed by the Data Processing Section (DPS) should provide for audit trails and prevent double-entries and erroneous data from being inserted during data input wherever possible. The programs developed by DPS staff should be regularly re-assessed and updated by DPS personnel.
(d) The Procedures set in place should be regularly overseen by the higher administrative Sections of the MES.

6. Cabinet has taken note of the findings and recommendations of the Fact Finding Committee set up in July 2007 to look into the procurement of drugs which were adversely tested by the CENQAM Quality Central Laboratory of South Africa.
The Committee has concluded that all procedures were followed for the procurement of drugs and that the incriminated drugs were according to specifications. The Committee has also made recommendations on how to ameliorate the procurement of drugs and for the setting up of an independent “Pharmaco-vigilance” mechanism.

7. Cabinet has taken note of developments in the implementation of the Land-Based Oceanic Industry project which aims at commercially exploiting the characteristics unique to deep sea water through the production of desalinated mineral water, replacement of conventional electrical air conditioning, use in the development of organic pharmaceutical and cosmetic products, as well as for thalassotherapy and aquaculture, amongst other business applications.
The project would be implemented in two phases, viz. Phase 1 consisting of a technical feasibility study and identification of potential investors and Phase II covering the selection of a strategic partner for pipe laying and the development of the oceanic park.

8. Cabinet has taken note that an Agreement on Circular Migration would be signed with the Republic of France. Circular migration, a global phenomenon, fosters the alleviation of poverty, and the promotion of sustainable development of all States and regions, as well as helps reduce unemployment and supports development through remittances, transfer of knowledge, upgrading of skills and establishment of trade networks. The Agreement provides for, inter alia, -
(a) multiple entries to businessmen, intellectuals, lawyers, scientists, artists, top sportsmen and professionals for an aggregate period of three months per semester and, valid for a period of five years;
(b) Mauritian students in France, having a degree equivalent to a Masters or Professional degree and willing to have a first professional experience before their return to Mauritius, being allowed to stay for a period of 12 months;
(c) a long stay visa of 18 months to persons willing to be employed in France for specific jobs provided for in the Agreement; and
(d) the French side, through “les crédits du Ministère de l’Immigration, de l’Intégration, de l’Identité nationale et du Développement solidaire," contributing an amount of Euros 1 million for a period of three years to set up the necessary structures for training of Mauritians.

9. Cabinet has taken note that the SADC Ministers responsible for Marine Fisheries, including the Minister of Agro Industry & Fisheries, have signed the Statement on Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing during a SADC meeting held in Windhoek, Namibia on 4 July 2008.
Taking into consideration the central role played by the fisheries sector in employment creation, food security and poverty alleviation, as well as the harmful consequences of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing on the sustainability of fisheries and the conservation of marine resources, the SADC Ministers took the commitment to implement, not later than 2010, the following measures: -
(a) strengthening the monitoring of movement of fishing vessels in the region;
(b) requiring all commercial fishing vessels, except SADC small-scale fishing vessels, operating in the EEZ using a SADC port more than once to be subject to VMS;
(c) implementation of a progressive ban on transshipment at sea in the SADC region; and
(d) initiating processes intended to prohibit access of vessels, listed as IUU vessels by any Regional Fisheries Management Organisation, to SADC ports in accordance with the agreed preventive management measures.

10. In the context of the extension of the age of retirement to 65, Cabinet has agreed to the setting up of a Technical Committee to look into amendments to be brought to relevant legislation to -
(i) implement the decision for workers in the sugar industry; and
(ii) prevent undue losses in the computation of pensions for workers of the Sugar Industry opting for VRS following the extension of the age of retirement.

11. Cabinet has agreed to the introduction into the National Assembly of the Utility Regulatory Authority (Amendment) Bill which amends the Utility Regulatory Authority Act to provide for the appointment of a Chairperson and Commissioners of the Utility Regulatory Authority by the President on the advice of the Prime Minister given after consultation with the Leader of the Opposition.
The Bill further provides for the Authority to examine and make recommendations to a licensee –
(a) in respect of any Power Purchase Agreement proposed to be signed or entered into; and
(b) in respect of any management services contract, operation and maintenance contract or any other contract which it proposes to enter into in relation to water services or waste disposal services.
The Bill also provides for a new billing system which the CEB is required to introduce in the context of an ongoing reform programme. Under the new system, billing would be effected on the basis of a quarterly meter readings but the monthly consumption in between the meter reading periods would be determined on the average consumption for the quarter.

12. Cabinet has agreed to the collection and processing of sea cucumbers in the maritime zones of Mauritius during the period August to December 2008 and April to July 2009. Collection of sea cucumbers would, however, be suspended for a period of two years as from 1 August 2009 in order to allow replenishment.

13. Cabinet has taken note that the Global Council for Challenged Students Empowerment, in collaboration with the Ministry of Social Security, National Solidarity and Senior Citizens Welfare & Reform Institutions and the City Montessori Degree College of Lucknow, India, would organize an International Convention on Students.

Quality Control Circle in Mauritius from 17 to 19 December 2008. The objectives of the Convention are to –
(i) impress the notion of quality among challenged students;
(ii) prepare challenged students to participate in quality circles; and
(iii) improve the quality of life of challenged students through quality education and training.
The main objective of the Global Council for Challenged Students Empowerment is to empower students with disabilities to become total quality and self-reliant members of society. The International Convention is organised every two years for the benefit of non-disabled students. About 200 participants from different countries and NGOs would attend the Convention.

14. Cabinet has taken note that the Afro-Asian Rural Development Organisation has extended financial assistance to the tune of US$ 40,000 (Rs 1,052,000) for the implementation of three Women Entrepreneurship Development projects with a view to empowering women grouped in Cooperative Societies, viz. -
(a) milk-cum biogas production projects in an integrated farming scheme;
(b) setting up of a food processing project at Nouvelle France; and
(c) a Child Day Care Centre project to extend child care facilities to working women in the region of Floréal.

15. Cabinet has taken note that the Ministry of Education & Human Resources, in collaboration with UNESCO, would organise a Regional High-Level Meeting on the Teaching of Philosophy in Africa on 2 and 3 September 2008 in Mauritius for the benefit of Program Directors of Ministries of Education of African countries.
The objectives of the Regional Meeting will be , inter alia, to –
(i) take note of the report on a study carried out by UNESCO on the state of art of teaching of philosophy in the world;
(ii) discuss the formulation of policies for the teaching of philosophy at both national and regional levels; and
(iii) make appropriate recommendations relevant to the teaching of philosophy in the Africa region.

16. Cabinet has taken note that the World Bank (Africa Region), in collaboration with the Ministry of Education & Human Resources, would hold a Regional Capacity Development Workshop on “Country Leadership and Implementation for Results in the Education for All – Fast Track Initiative (EFA – FTI) Partnership” from 1 to 4 December 2008 in Mauritius.
The EFA-FTI is a global partnership to help low-income countries achieve the Education Millennium Development Goals, as well as the Education For All goals. The Fast Track Initiative is the medium through which developing countries commit themselves to design and implement good education plans while donor partners commit themselves to provide fund support and know-how required to reach national education targets.
The Workshop aims at fostering country leadership in the EFA-FTI partnership, and supporting African countries in their efforts to implement plans that have been endorsed and awarded an FTI Catalytic Fund grant. About 100 senior policy makers from the Sub-Saharan African countries, including Mauritius, would participate in the workshop.

17. Cabinet has taken note that, in the light of reforms brought in the Education Sector, the Ministry of Education & Human Resources proposes to produce new textbooks for Standards III and IV for 2009, subsequent to the issue of new textbooks to Standards I and II for the years 2007 and 2008 respectively.

18. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the Eleventh Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government and the Thirteenth Ordinary Session of the Executive Council of the African Union held in Sharm-el-Sheikh, Egypt from 27 June to 1 July 2008. The theme of the Summit was “Meeting the Millennium Development Goals on Water and Sanitation”. Several economic-related items, including, the status of the Millennium Development Goals for Africa, the on-going Doha Round Negotiations in the World Trade Organisation and the issue of Economic Partnership Agreements were discussed.

19. Cabinet has taken note of the reconstitution of the following –
(a) the Rose Belle Sugar Estate Board with Mr Kaleshwarao Saccaram, C.S.K., as Chairperson;
(b) the Bus Industry Employees’ Welfare Fund Board, with Mr Dawood Mudhoo as Chairperson; and
(c) the “Commission Nationale du Sport Féminin” with Mrs Marie Anne Joyejob as Chairperson.