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Prime Minister's Office>Cabinet Decisions taken on 15 February 2008

Cabinet Decisions taken on 15 February 2008

1. Cabinet has taken note that, on an invitation of HE Mr Nitish Kumar, Chief Minister of Bihar, the Prime Minister would effect an official visit to Bihar with effect from 18 February 2008. The main purpose of the visit is to consolidate the close ties of friendship between Mauritius and the State of Bihar, the ancestral home of many Mauritians. During his visit, the Prime Minister would unveil the statue of Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam erected in Patna by the Government of the State of Bihar to pay tribute to the Father of the Nation for his contribution to the economic development and emancipation of Mauritius.

2. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the reforms announced in the 2006/07 and 2007/08 Budgets on economic and social development. The economy which was descending dangerously into recession, has picked up to reach a GDP growth of 5.6% in 2007. The forecast growth rate for 2008 is 6%. Per capita income increased from US$5500 in 2005 to US$6300 in 2007 and it is forecast that the per capita income for the year 2008 would be US$7,000. Foreign Direct investment has increased by 200% and savings as a ratio of GDP have gone up. Unemployment rate is falling and the country is moving to full employment. The four pillars of the economy, including sugar, are on a positive track with a booming tourist industry which grew by 13% in 2007, the highest growth rate in 20 years. With emerging sectors, the economy would diversify into eight pillars including, inter alia, seafood hub, energy sector, knowledge industry and biotechnology. To contain poverty, jobs are being created; the Empowerment Programme is making good progress; and a number of facilities and incentives for the setting up of SME’s are being provided.

3. Cabinet has taken note of the final recommendations of the National Remuneration Board (NRB) in respect of the workers of the Public Transport (Buses) Industry and has agreed to the promulgation of fresh Remuneration Order Regulations for this category of workers. The recommendations of the NRB include -

(i) overall wage increase varying between 29% to 36% on the different rates prescribed by the Remuneration Order of 1988;

(ii) increase in maternity allowance from Rs 500 to Rs 2,000;

(iii) increase in meal allowance from Rs 20 to Rs 50 per day;

(iv) funeral expenses being increased from Rs 2,000 to Rs 3,500;

(v) increase in the payment of attendance bonus from 5% to 10%;

(vi) increase in the refund of cost of spectacles frame from Rs 800 to Rs 2,500;

(vii) the payment of wages for the actual time consumed by bus conductors for winding up their work after the last trip;

(viii) a worker being given 8 working days' leave with pay on the occasion of his first wedding; and

(ix) a casual worker being entitled to the payment of the attendance bonus after completion of 22 days' work in a month.

4. Cabinet has taken note of developments in the implementation of the project for the extension of the Terminal at Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport, comprising new Passenger Terminal Facilities, new car park and extension of the taxiway.

5. Cabinet has taken note of the water resources situation of our reservoirs; the Mare aux Vacoas reservoir is presently around 38% of its capacity, the lowest recorded since 1999.

With a view to mitigating any adverse impact of a deficient water resources situation, Cabinet has further taken note of the various alternatives to form the basis of a Water Supply Contingency Plan, viz., -

(a) desalination of seawater;

(b) exploitation of private boreholes and allocation of water rights;

(c) exploitation of fresh seawater springs; and

(d) cloud seeding.

6. Cabinet has taken note that an intensive campaign is being launched for the extermination of rats which pose health and safety hazards. In this connection, the Ministry of Health and Quality of Life, in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment & National Development Unit and the Ministry of Local Government, would,
inter alia, -

(i) mount an island-wide clean-up campaign to reduce breeding grounds for rats;

(ii) sensitize the public on the causes of and the associated health hazards related to the proliferation of the population of rats, as well as on good housekeeping and sanitation practices; and

(iii) set up a Rodent Control Unit within each local authority and a National Rodent Control Unit under the Ministry of Health and Quality of Life.

7. Cabinet has taken note of further developments in the organization of National Day Celebrations 2008. Cabinet has also taken note that a roving photo exhibition highlighting the main events from 12 March 1968 to 1985 in the life of Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam, Father of the Nation, would be mounted. An “All Night Independence Live Show” would be organized with the participation of renowned artists, such as –

- Neeraj Shridar & Bombay Vikings (India)
- Pop Music & Dance Group (China)
- The After Beat (Beatles Band) (France)
- Atif Aslam (Pakistan)
- Modern Dance Group (Madagascar)
- Belly Dance Group (Egypt)
- Bobby Kray (UK)
- Ziskakan (Reunion Island)
- Baster (Reunion Island)

In the context of the celebrations, a display of antique cars would be held during an open day at Clarisse House.

8. Cabinet has taken note of the findings of the Study on Services conducted by Imani International, a South African consultancy firm, with a view to defining an optimal negotiation position in the Services Sector in the context of the Economic Partnership Agreement Negotiations.

The Report –

(a) identifies a number of national treatment restrictions and other market access barriers to the EU which need to be addressed to promote export of services;

(b) focuses on temporary migration and movement of people;

(c) proposes the implementation of appropriate legislations, addresses the human resource constraints, deals with post-investment difficulties such as connecting to utilities, promotes public-private dialogue through the establishment of a Services forum; and

(d) identifies support options that would assist Mauritius in developing its Services sector.

9. Cabinet has further taken note of the appointment of Mr Krishnasamy Ponnusamy, Senior Chief Executive on pre-retirement leave, as Chairperson of the National Pay Council.

10. With a view to sensitizing youths to assume responsibility for their personal health care and to be the role model of a healthy lifestyle, Cabinet has taken note that the Ministry of Education & Human Resources proposes to revive school health clubs and to set up a Regional Health and Education Council (RHEC) in each educational zone to monitor the activities of the school health clubs with a view to providing a holistic approach to health in schools.

The school health clubs would promote the health and wellness of the students and aim mainly at sensitizing school on health related issues, such as food safety and hygiene, personal hygiene, regular exercise, harmful effects of tobacco use, consumption of alcoholic drinks and adolescent pregnancy.

Cabinet has further taken note that a Health Education Unit would also be set up at the Ministry of Education & Human Resources to coordinate with the RHECs and schools on the activities of the health clubs.

11. Cabinet has taken note that the World Health Organisation, in collaboration with the Health Action International, would organize a workshop on the revised medicines prices survey methodology from 25 to 29 February 2008 at the Mauritius Institute of Health, Pamplemousses.

The overall objective of the workshop is to improve the capacity to collect and use information on medicine prices with a view to identifying possible policy measures and strategies, which would result in improving availability and affordability of essential medicines for the people in greatest need.

After the workshop, a survey of medicine prices in Mauritius would be carried out with a view to -

(a) identifying gaps in access and availability of cost-effective medicines for chronic diseases;

(b) identifying innovative strategies for influencing and managing the price and availability of these medicines;

(c) developing models to improve access and affordability of medicines for non communicable diseases; and

(d) addressing treatment needs of patients with major chronic diseases through national programmes that ensure equitable access.

12. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the recent mission of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Trade & Cooperation to New Delhi where he attended the Meeting of the Governing Council of the World Hindi Secretariat co-chaired by the Minister of Education & Human Resources.

In the margins of the meeting, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Trade & Cooperation had bilateral meetings with the Hon Pranab Mukherjee, Minister of External Affairs and the Hon Kamal Nath, Minister of Commerce and Industry. The Minister also had a working session at the Indian Ministry of New and Renewable Energy on non-conventional energy sources.

13. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the mission of the Minister of Environment & National Development Unit to India where he participated in the Delhi Sustainable Development Summit held from 7 to 9 February 2008.
The Summit discussed, inter alia, the following topics –

(a) Addressing Climate Change: Vision 2050 (Long Term Targets and Perspectives);
(b) Mitigation and Adaptation Policies for Sustainable Development;
(c) Technology and Enabling Policies in the Energy Sector;
(d) Impacts and Adaptation: Creating Local Capacity and Global Resources Flows;
(e) Emerging issues of Climate Change: The Business Voice; and
(f) Mainstreaming Climate Change: The Media Outlook.

The Minister of Environment & National Development Unit addressed the Summit on “Addressing Climate Change: Vision 2050 (Long Term Targets and Perspectives)” and drew attention on the need for immediate near term climate mitigation strategies to keep the Planet from reaching the tipping point, and financial and technological assistance required by Small Island Developing States to implement mitigating measures.

14. Cabinet has taken note of the reconstitution of -
(i) the Board of Trustees of the Rajiv Gandhi Science Centre Trust Fund with Dr Muddun Bhurtun, Associate Professor at the University of Mauritius, as Chairperson; and
(ii) the National Women Entrepreneur Council with Mrs Preety Jaypal-Parahoo as Chairperson.