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Prime Minister's Office>Cabinet Decisions taken on 17 April 2008

Cabinet Decisions taken on 17 April 2008

1. As announced in Budget Speech 2007-2008, Cabinet has taken note of modalities to be adopted to provide financial assistance from the Sale by Levy Solidarity Fund to deserving families who have lost their only residence through sale by levy. The criteria which are being used to identify deserving cases, are –

(a) loss of residence;
(b) unexpected change in circumstances leading to non-payment of loan taken, such as sickness, loss of employment, etc.;
(c) the purpose of loan taken; and
(d) victims should not have been owner of bare residential land of more than 60-70 toises or agricultural land (under cultivation) of more than 1A in addition to the property seized as at 31 December 2006.

So far, the Sale by Levy Solidarity Fund has examined 35 cases and recommended 17 cases for assistance.

2. Cabinet has taken note that the High Powered Committee under the Chairmanship of the Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Public Infrastructure, Land Transport & Shipping met on 17 April 2008 to review the situation regarding the supply of food commodities and has proposed measures for self-sufficiency in potatoes and onions, in the first instance. The Committee is following up closely the situation.

3. Cabinet has taken note of the report of the International Labour Organisation Committee on Freedom of Association on the complaint lodged by the General Workers’ Federation against the Government of Mauritius relating to the National Pay Council (NPC) and on an alleged violation of Conventions 87 and 98.
Cabinet has further taken note that -

(i) legal advice which has been obtained, indicates that the International Labour Organisation Committee on Freedom of Association has not stated in its report that there has been violation of Conventions 87 and 98 nor has it put into question the existence of the NPC or the criteria for determination of salary compensation; and

(ii) consultations are on-going with the representatives of all trade union federations on ways and means to improve the functioning, composition and objectives of the NPC.

4. Cabinet has taken note that, according to the last bulletin published by the Statistical Unit of the Ministry of Tourism, Leisure & External Communications, 89,152 tourists visited Mauritius in the month of March 2008 as compared to 79,965 in the corresponding period of last year, representing an increase of 11.5%. The excellent result is due mainly to the good performance of our main markets, viz. -
France (+12.9%), United Kingdom (+11.6%), Republic of South Africa (+24.2%), Reunion Island (+11.7%) and India (+24.7%).

Cabinet has also taken note that the MTPA has been awarded two international prizes, viz. –

(a) the Golden City Award 2008 for its promotional film "Un Monde Loin du Monde" awarded during the International Tourismus-Börse Fair held in Berlin; and
(b) the Award for the second best website of national tourism boards, following a survey conducted by Easyvoyage, a French travel company, on 51 websites.

5. Cabinet has taken note of the holding, in different regions of the island, of the "Semaine de l'Entrepreneuriat", organised by SEHDA, in collaboration with the Ministry of Industry, Small & Medium Enterprises, Commerce & Cooperatives and other SME support institutions. The Government has taken a series of measures to promote the development of the SME sector, including streamlining of procedures for the issue of permits and clearances, the enactment of the Business Facilitation Act, the organisation of several "Caravanes de l'Entrepreneuriat" and the implementation of the SME support schemes, some potential and existing entrepreneurs are not availing themselves of the facilities put at their disposal. The "Semaine de l'Entrepreneuriat" will, therefore, be a platform where representatives of support institutions would inform existing and potential entrepreneurs of the various facilities, schemes and services offered to them.

The first event in this programme would be launched on 5 May 2008 at the Grand Port/Savanne District Council.

6. Cabinet has taken note that, in line with the vision of the Ministry of Education & Human Resources to provide basic health care to students, the Vision Testing Programme in primary schools, initiated in November 2007, would be extended to pupils of Standard III as from May 2008.

7. Cabinet has taken note that the Ministry of Environment & National Development Unit has reviewed measures for the protection of the shoreline at Flic-en-Flac, viz., –

(a) the existing damaged gabions would be removed mechanically and disposed of;
(b) the casuarinas trees found within 15m from the High Water Mark would be removed; and
(c) the beach would be reprofiled using sand and coral rubbles.

These measures would form part of an integrated approach towards the beach protection and management at Flic-en-Flac against strong and high wave and man-induced events.

8. Cabinet has agreed to the introduction into the National Assembly of The Divine Life Society (Mauritius Branch) (Amendment) Bill which provides for the transfer and ownership of two immoveable properties presently registered in the name of the Divine Life Society of Mauritius to the Divine Life Society (Mauritius Branch), a spiritual organisation disseminating the teachings of Swami Sivananda. At the time the Divine Life Society of Mauritius was incorporated under the name of Divine Life Society (Mauritius Branch), the transfer of the two properties was not included in the enabling Act.

9. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the mission of the Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Finance & Economic Development to Ethiopia where he attended the Second COMESA Fund Committee (CFC) Meeting and the First Joint Meeting of Ministers of Trade and Finance held from 2 to 5 April 2008, as well as of the outcome of his investment mission in Dubai.

The COMESA Fund Committee is the main instrument through which the international community channels financial resources to help COMESA Member States, as well as the Secretariat, implement COMESA's regional integration agenda. At the Meeting, decisions were taken, inter alia, on –
(i) the use of funds provided by the European countries to finance either revenue losses and adjustment costs; and
(ii) the design, operational modalities and location of the COMESA Infrastructure Facility.
The Joint Meeting of Ministers of Trade and Finance discussed, inter alia, -
(a) COMESA Trade and Macro-Economic Convergence Developments;
(b) Safeguards on wheat flour by Kenya;
(c) Regional Framework for Trade in Services;
(d) The Africa Growth and Opportunity Act;
(e) COMESA Common Investment Area; and
(f) Launching of the Customs Union by end 2008.
In Dubai, the Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Finance & Economic Development explored investment opportunities in infrastructure, energy and
agri-business, as well as the Highlands project.

10. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the consultative meetings held in Mauritius from 11 to 20 February 2008 with our Development Partners (DPs) regarding the Development Policy Loans (DPL) to support the implementation of Government Economic Reform programme.

The DPs had working sessions, inter alia, on technical assistance requirements of Ministries and the identification of the third Development Policy Loan (DPL3) indicative triggers.

The indicative triggers/indicators to be used for DPL3 are as follows:

(i) Prepare sector strategies for 2008/09 for the identified Ministries;
(ii) Initiate civil service reform with performance management pilots;
(iii) Reduce primary spending by 1.5% of GDP in 2008/09 compared to Financial Year 2005/06;
(iv) Begin implementation of parastatal reform action plans for the Central Water Authority, the Wastewater Management Authority, the Central Electricity Board and the Sugar Planters’ Mechanical Pool;
(v) Implementation of tariff reductions to be specified;
(vi) Begin implementation of the ICT Strategy; and
(vii) Introduce flexi-security in the labour market.

11. Cabinet has taken note that the following regional meetings/workshop would be held in Mauritius from 20 to 23 May 2008 -

(i) the Bureau Meeting of the Nairobi Convention.
(ii) The Fifth Project Steering Committee of the United Nations Environment Programme/Global Environment Facility/Western Indian Ocean countries for addressing Land-Based activities project. This project, designed to serve as a Global Programme of Action (GPA) demonstration project, aims at achieving three major objectives -
(a) reduce stress to the ecosystem by improving water and sediment quality;
(b) strengthen regional legal basis for preventing land-based sources of pollution through GPA; and
(c) develop regional capacity and strengthen institutions for sustainable, less polluting development.
(iii) The Regional Training Workshop on the Mainstreaming of Coastal and Marine Management, the main objective of which is to build capacity on mainstreaming coastal and marine environmental management at the national level through the definition of specific national actions, strategies and processes, as well as related institutional structures and financial mechanisms.

12. Cabinet has taken note of the holding of the SADC Meeting of Ministers responsible for Telecommunications, Postal and ICT Sectors from 26 to 28 May 2008 in Mauritius. The aim of the meeting is to deliberate and review progress made so far and to chart the way forward to facilitate the development of the Telecommunications, Postal and ICT Sectors for both socio-economic advancement and regional integration.

13. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the mission of the Minister of Information Technology & Telecommunications in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, in the context of the World Summit on Innovation and Entrepreneurship (WSIE) 2008 from 1 to 3 April 2008. The theme for this year’s Summit was ‘Our Future, inspired by Innovation’. The WSIE 2008 was designed to improve the role of Innovation as a catalyst for competitiveness and peace.

The Summit also launched the “Innovation for Peace” initiative, a concept to is inspire and develop human capacity development initiative, which aims at fostering the social and spiritual qualities of youth in underdeveloped countries to stimulate their intellectual capacity, spur their innovation and entrepreneurial curiosity, improve their quality of life, and encourage understanding and cross cultural collaboration.