CABINET DECISIONS – 14 November 2008
1. In line with the programme of Government, Cabinet has agreed to the introduction into the National Assembly of the Equal Opportunities Bill which prohibits any form of discrimination, in a direct or indirect manner, on the ground of status. It ensures that every person has an equal opportunity to attain his objectives in various spheres of activities and that no person is placed, or finds himself, at a disadvantage, by reason of his status, namely age, caste, colour, creed, ethnic origin, impairment, marital status, political opinion, race, sex or sexual orientation. These prohibitions from discrimination shall apply to employment activities; education; provision of goods, services or facilities; accommodation; disposal of immovable property; companies; partnerships; “société” or registered associations, ‘clubs’; and access to premises and sports.
The Bill also provides for an Equal Opportunities Division which will operate under the National Human Rights Commission, inter alia, to -
(a) work towards the elimination of discrimination and the promotion of equality of opportunity and good relations between persons of different status;
(b) carry out investigations proprio motu or following a complaint and attempt to reconcile the parties involved;
(c) develop research and programmes to promote equality of opportunity and good relations between persons of different status; and
(d) prepare appropriate guidelines and codes for the avoidance of discrimination and give the widest publicity to them.
An Equal Opportunities Tribunal will be set up to hear and determine complaints referred to it by the Equal Opportunities Division, issue interim orders and determine whether the complaint is justified.
2. Cabinet has taken note that a few students taking part in the HSC examinations 2008 have, a few hours before their examination, been discussing on the internet of certain topics specially in regard to physics, chemistry and mathematics which subsequently appeared in the examination papers.
The Cambridge University, which has been apprised of the situation, has already initiated an enquiry. A decision on the way forward would be taken on receipt of the report.
3. Cabinet has agreed to Mauritius becoming a member of the Development Centre of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) as a non-OECD country. The Centre serves as the Organisation’s strategic interface with the international development research community and as an intermediary between researchers and policy makers. As member of the Development Centre, Mauritius will be in a better position to canvass issues of interest, such as Circular Migration; Aid for Trade; Making EPAs work as a tool to integrate African economies with each other and the rest of the world; Problems peculiar to small states with small markets (e.g. regulation; competition policy and price control; land allocation); Climate change and Sustainable Development; Growth with equity: using growth to eliminate absolute poverty; Aid Effectiveness: untying Technical Assistance and better use of conditionality.
4. Cabinet has taken note of developments in the implementation of the Mauritius Economic Transition Technical Assistance Project, a World Bank funded project to support the capacity building efforts of Mauritius in the transition from an economy driven by trade preferences to an open market-driven economy focused on a diversified economic base with high growth potential. The Project is expected to help maintain the momentum of reforms in priority areas, such as Public Enterprise Reform, Public Private Partnerships, Utility Regulation and Investment Climate Reforms. The Project will also aim at supporting Mauritius in achieving a top 10 ranking from its current 24 position in the World Bank Annual Doing Business Survey. The successful implementation of the project will enable Mauritius achieve and sustain a first class Investment Climate that is necessary to attract significant Foreign Direct Investment flows into non-traditional sectors such as high tech services.
5. Cabinet has taken note of developments in the implementation of the Dream Bridge Project as one of the measures to reduce traffic congestion in Port Louis. During his last official visit to France, the Prime Minister had discussed the project with the French authorities. Cabinet has mandated the Minister of Public Infrastructure, Land Transport and Shipping to lead a mission to France to finalise an agreement for the implementation of the project.
6. Cabinet has taken note that the New George V Stadium would be named after Mr Ram Ruhee, OBE in recognition of his contribution in the field of sports. Cabinet has further taken note that the Mauritius Football Association proposes to erect a bust of Mr Ruhee at its headquarters in Trianon.
7. Cabinet has agreed to the recommendations of the Committee set up under the chairmanship of the Vice-Prime Minister, Minister of Tourism, Leisure and External Communications to, inter alia, review immigration formalities at the airport and port. The present system of filling of the embarkation cards by departing passengers would be abolished for all passengers. Only foreigners would be required to fill in the disembarkation cards.
Cabinet has further taken note that a passport screening system would be introduced with a view to modernizing the border control system, and the Mauritius Revenue Authority would, on its part, implement the Advance Passenger Information System to obtain information on passengers prior to their arrival.
8. In line with Government’s policy for land management reform that ascribe value to land, and provide an essential mechanism for making rational decisions about liabilities, risks and State intervention on land uses and planning, Cabinet has agreed to the introduction into the National Assembly of the LAVIMS (Project Implementation) Bill which makes provision for the implementation of the Land Administration, Valuation and Information Management System (LAVIMS) Project in so far as it relates to the setting up a digital cadastral database and empowering authorised persons to enter premises for that purpose, for survey and land use planning and for the valuation of the premises for the purposes of any tax, rate or due.
9. Cabinet has taken note of the draft Education & Human Resources Strategy Plan 2008-2020 formulated in line with the commitment of Government to providing access to learning opportunities to all and to developing a human resource base to transfer Mauritius into an intelligent nation state in the vanguard of global progress and innovation through the development of a centre of achievement and excellence. Cabinet has further taken note that the Ministry of Education, Culture and Human Resources would, before its implementation, hold consultations with all stakeholders on the proposals made in the Strategy Plan.
10. Cabinet has taken note that the Non-Citizens (Work Permits) (Deposits) Regulations 1994 and the Non-Citizens (Employment) (Amendment) Regulations 1994 would be amended to provide for –
(a) employers of foreign workers being relieved of the obligation to meet the cost of air tickets of their foreign workers whenever the latter decide to return to their home country before the expiry of their contracts of employment for flimsy reasons; and
(b) the upward revision of the deposit furnished by employers.
Cabinet has also taken note of cases where foreign workers, after having worked for a very short period of time in Mauritius decide to return to their home country. In such cases, the regulations would authorise employers to make appropriate arrangements with the overseas recruiting agents or with the workers to meet their return costs.
11. Cabinet has taken note of the status of the Expanded Programme of Immunization being implemented by the Ministry of Health and Quality of Life. The objective of the Programme is to protect children against the most common diseases of childhood, i.e., Diphtheria, Hepatitis B, Meningitis (Haemophilus Influenzae
type B), Measles, Mumps, Pertussis (whooping cough), Poliomyelitis, Rubella, Tuberculosis, and Tetanus. Vaccination is carried out free of costs at all primary health care service points in Mauritius and Rodrigues, and is integrated in the primary health care package. Moreover, pregnant women are vaccinated against tetanus for the prevention of neonatal tetanus as recommended by the World Health Organisation.
12. Cabinet has taken note that the Ministry of Health and Quality of Life has taken a series of measures for the control of vector-borne diseases, such as Malaria, Chikungunya, Dengue Fever and Avian Flu, with a view to maintaining the country free from these diseases, viz.,-
(a) control of all aircrafts coming from or transiting through malarious countries;
(b) active domiciliary spraying with DDT insecticide for a period of three years in all active foci;
(c) fogging and larviciding operations in specific regions;
(d) environmental management, such as cleaning and clearing of bare plot of lands;
(e) strengthening of laboratory and entomology services; and
(f) health education.
13. Cabinet has taken note of activities to be organised by the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology, in collaboration with the National Computer Board, to mark the Computer Security Day celebrated on 30 November, viz -
(a) a 2-day Cyber Security Conference with the participation of international high profile resource persons from the International Telecommunication Union, Carnegie Mellon Cylab, USA, Computer Emergency Response Team-India (CERT-IN) to update Business Executes, Senior Management and Information Security Professionals as Information Security;
(b) a half-day Workshop for Senior Executives on Critical Information Infrastructure Protection and Information Assurance;
(c) a course on implementing BS 25999, an internationally acclaimed British Standard on business continuity management, targeted on professionals who will be implementing business continuity management systems in their organizations;
(d) a lead auditor course on auditing of business continuity management systems developed according to the BS 25999 standard; and
(e) the publication and distribution of a 2009 planner with security-related messages.
14. Cabinet has taken note of developments in the setting up 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 electric air conditioning, use in the development of organic pharmaceutical and cosmetic products, as well as for thalasso theraphy and aquaculture, amongst other business applications.
15. Cabinet has taken note of activities to be organised by the Ministry of Women’s Rights, Child Development and Family Welfare in the context of the Universal Children’s Day 2008, celebrated on 20 November, viz.-
(a) launching of clips to sensitize the public on situation of risks both at home and outside;
(b) raising awareness of children on safety issues, such as, food poisoning due to colouring, road safety, and toxicity from toys;
(c) award of prizes to children, winners of the essay competition on the rights of the child launched on the occasion of the 16 Days 16 Rights Campaign;
(d) organisation of recreational and creativity activities; and
(e) launching of the Community Child Watch Committee at Pointe aux Sables.
The theme of the year will be “Sécurité nou zenfants avant tout!”.
Cabinet has further taken note that the Ministry of Women's Rights, Child Development and Family Welfare would, in January 2009, launch a model Day Care Centre at Baie du Tombeau with a view to providing a safe place for babies and toddlers of working mothers.
16. Cabinet has taken note of activities to be organised by the Ministry of Women’s Rights, Child Development and Family Welfare to commemorate the International Day Against Violence Against Women 2008 celebrated on 25 November, viz -
(a) launching of a clip on Strategies adopted by the Ministry Women’s Rights, Child Development and Family Welfare to Combat Domestic Violence;
(b) display of banners by members of the Zero Tolerance Clubs to promote peace and harmony in the society;
(c) launching of a booklet on “Practical Advice on Domestic Violence”, and of pamphlets and bookmark on “Coaching Boys into Men”;
(d) award of prizes for painting competition on the theme “A Home without Violence”; and
(e) organisation of various workshops to sensitize the media, religious leaders and the Police on issues pertaining to domestic violence.
The theme chosen this year is “Human Rights for Women - Human Rights for all: UDHR60”.
17. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the mission of the Vice-Prime Minister, Minister of Tourism, Leisure and External Communications from 25 to 28 October 2008 to Turkey where he attended the “Agenda for Freedom Summit” upon an invitation from Mr Giovanni Bisignani, Director General and Chief Executive Officer of International Air Transport Association (IATA). The objective of the Summit was to bring together a group of some selected 15 States and airlines to reflect on possible means of driving more commercial freedom into the air transport industry by removing such constraints as regulated market access and foreign ownership imposed on the business of airlines.
In the margins of the Summit, the Vice-Prime Minister, Minister of Tourism, Leisure and External Communications met with the Association of Turkish Travel Agencies with a view to establishing cooperative arrangements for the promotion of the Mauritius destination.
The Mauritian delegation also discussed with the Directorate General of Civil Aviation of the Ministry of Transport of Turkey, the desirability of developing air links between our two countries for the transportation of passengers and cargo. Turkey represents a new and promising market for the Tourism industry with around 8 million tourists this year and some 16 million tourists by the year 2015.
18. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the mission of the Minister of Housing and Lands from 3 to 6 November 2008 to China where he attended the Fourth World Urban Forum hosted by UN-HABITAT and the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Construction of the People's Republic of China on the theme "Harmonious Urbanisation". The following issues were discussed during the Forum: -
(a) Slums and squatters;
(c) Greening the City; and
(d) Saving Energy.
In the margins of the Forum, the Minister of Housing and Lands met the Director of Programme Support Division of UN-HABITAT who proposes to undertake an urban sector profiling to assess urban management issues for three urban areas in Mauritius.
19. With a view to making Mauritius an International Telecommunications Hub, Cabinet has agreed to the orbital slot allotted to Mauritius by the International Telecommunication Union being leased. Mauritius is strategically located between the African, Australian and Asian continents. Mauritius is currently linked to Europe, Western Africa and Asia via the South Africa Far East, South Atlantic 3, West Africa Sub Marine Cable (SAFE-SAT3-WASC) fibre optic cable and satellite links, which are purchased from international consortiums, for its international telecommunications needs.