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Prime Minister's Office>Cabinet Decisions taken on 22 February 2008

Cabinet Decisions taken on 22 February 2008

1. Cabinet has taken note that, through the enforcement of new legislative provisions and the promulgation of regulations relating to the control of speed limit in certain specified lagoons, it has been possible to bring some order into the state of affairs in certain touristic zones such as Trou d'Eau Douce, Grand Baie and Flic-en-Flac. With a view to further enhancing and maintaining the lagoon around Mauritius, which is a major source of attraction to tourists and a vital means of revenue for hundreds of fishermen, Cabinet has agreed to regulations being made to prohibit the importation of specified types of polluting outboard engines which do not fulfill the minimum acceptable noise and exhaust emission requirements in accordance with EU Standards.
Cabinet has further taken note that 94,579 tourists visited Mauritius in the month of January 2008, as compared to 91,628 in the corresponding period of last year, representing an increase of 3.2%. An additional 3,000 tourists would have been registered had Cyclone Gula not manifested on 30 and 31 January 2008. The growth rate would then have been around 6.5%.

France and the United Kingdom, our leading European markets, have maintained positive growth rates, with an increase of 12.8% and 7.1% respectively as compared to the same period of last year.

2. In view of new development challenges that have evolved over time, Cabinet has taken note of the White Paper defining the new National Environment Policy which establishes a clear policy framework and sets appropriate environmental objectives and strategies based on a review of key environmental issues, challenges and opportunities specific to our national context. The new Policy also reconciles environmental sustainability with economic and social development with the ultimate goal of providing a better quality of life to the people of Mauritius, Rodrigues and other outer islands.

3. Cabinet has taken note of the damage caused by Cyclone Ivan in Madagascar and, in a spirit of solidarity and friendship, agreed to donate 150 metric tons of ration rice and 100 metric tons of Pois du Cap.

4. Mauritius being a volcanic and mountainous island and prone to landslide in various regions such as Tamarin, Montagne Ory, Rivière des Anguilles and Chitrakoot, Cabinet has taken note that the Central Cyclone and Other Natural Disasters Committee has recommended the urgent monitoring of ground movements in landslide prone areas and the provision of an appropriate warning system. The Committee has recommended that extensometers be installed in all areas prone to landslide. Cabinet has further taken note that appropriate remedial action for the stabilization of those sites would be undertaken after analysis of the geotechnical findings by competent experts.

5. With a view to stimulating competition which would benefit consumers in terms of quality and price, Cabinet has agreed to the liberalisation of –
(a) 25% of the total import of onions during the period May to July 2008; and
(b) 50% of the total import of onions during the period January to July each year.
Cabinet has taken note that, during the period August to December, locally produced onions would be available on the market.

6. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the mission of the Minister of Agro Industry & Fisheries to Rome where he participated in the 31st Session of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) from 13 to 14 February 2008 and attended roundtable discussions on –

(i) climate change and the future of small holder agriculture;
(ii) biofuels expansion: challenges, risks and opportunities for rural poor people; and
(iii) rising prices of food and agriculture commodities: on opportunity for small holder farmers.
In the margins of the meeting, the Minister had discussions on bilateral issues with,
inter alia, the President of IFAD and the Deputy Director General of FAO.

7. Cabinet has taken note of the Planning Policy Guidance for development along the motorway, which would be issued to Municipal and District Councils.

The guidelines aim at safeguarding the scenery along the motorway corridor for arriving tourists, as well as retaining a green belt which would be visually pleasant. Moreover, the guidelines make room for future developments in certain strategic locations along the motorway in line with the National Development Strategy.

These include -
(a) the need for very high standard of design if developments are to go very high;
(b) the height of the buildings being proportional to road capacity, taking into consideration scope for improvement;
(c) a road reserve being observed along a motorway to cater for future widening and associated utilities; and
(d) contribution of developers towards the provision of infrastructure and utilities.

8. Cabinet has taken note of activities to be organised by the Ministry of Women’s Rights, Child Development, Family Welfare & Consumer Protection to mark the International Women’s Day on 8 March 2008. The theme chosen by the UN for this year is “Financing For Gender Equality”. The main activities would comprise:-

(a) reading of a message from the UN Secretary General;

(b) projection of a clip on “Gender and Development”;

(c) launching of a National Gender Policy Framework;

(d) handing over of equipment to beneficiaries of micro projects;

(e) launching of a Legal Literacy Programme; and

(f) opening of an Empowerment Centre at Bel Air.

9. Cabinet has reviewed the situation regarding the collection and export of scrap metal and has taken note of the implementation of additional measures to deter theft of scrap metal. The measures include –

(a) increase in the number of stop and searches of lorries, especially during the night;

(b) visit to premises of licensed exporters to verify the quality of metals and accuracy of sourcing records;

(c) thorough inspection of containers by the Customs Department; and

(d) profiling of potential illegal exporters using risk-based analysis.

10. In view of recent developments in the field of air transport and the growing need for enhanced aviation safety and security, Cabinet has taken note of the promulgation of the new Civil Aviation (Security) Regulations, which incorporate, inter alia, the new provisions on security contained in the ICAO Convention, and redefine the roles and responsibilities of the National Civil Aviation Security Committee, as well as those of the service providers.

11. Cabinet has taken note of the mission of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Trade & Cooperation to Lusaka, Zambia where he participated in the ESA - Special Ministerial Sub-Committee on EPA and the 3rd Meeting of the Special Ministerial Task Force on COMESA Customs Union.

The Special Ministerial Sub-Committee on EPA Negotiations discussed the –

(i) review of the ESA EPA Process to date;

(ii) strengthening the effectiveness of the ESA Negotiations in 2008; and

(iii) continuation of negotiations for a Comprehensive EPA in 2008;

The Third Meeting of the Special Ministerial Task Force on COMESA Customs discussed the proposed activities for the implementation of the Customs Union, scheduled to be launched on 8 December 2008 and the progress and arrangements to be made in connection with the launching of the COMESA Customs Union.

12. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the mission of the Minister of Social Security, National Solidarity and Senior Citizens Welfare & Reform Institutions to Rodrigues from 11 to 13 January 2008. The main objectives of the mission were to –

(i) create awareness at the level of Rodriguan Authorities and NGOs concerning the new policy orientations of the Ministry of Social Security, National Solidarity and Senior Citizens Welfare & Reform Institutions regarding,
inter alia, substance abuse, elderly and disability issues;

(ii) launch a two-day Workshop on Prevention of Substance Abuse for the teaching and non-teaching staff of the Pre-Primary School Sector in Rodrigues;

(iii) carry out a sensitization campaign on the Protection of Elderly Persons Act 2005 and constitute the four Elderly Watch Committees for Rodrigues as provided in the enabling Act; and

(iv) launch a Basic IT and Internet Course for disabled children.

13. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the mission of the Minister of Youth & Sports to Ethiopia from 12 to 15 February 2008 where he participated in the Conference of the African Union Ministers in Charge of Youth. The Conference discussed issues relating to the ratification and implementation of the African Youth Charter as well as the celebration of 2008 as the Year of African Youth. The Conference considered and adopted, inter alia, the following –

(i) the implementation of a Plan of Action for the period 2008/2015 to accelerate the ratification and implementation of the Charter by Member States;

(ii) the programme of activities for the celebration of 2008 as the Year of African Youth;

(iii) the establishment of a Fund to support the implementation of the Charter;

(iv) a Plan of Action to accelerate the revitalization of the structure of the Pan-African Youth Union comprising Governments, Youth Organisations and other stakeholders; and

(v) a Declaration reaffirming the determination and commitment of Member States to promote youth development.

14. In line with Government policy to curtail expenditure, Cabinet has taken note that the Ministry of Labour, Industrial Relations & Employment would renounce its membership of the World Association of Public Employment Services as no benefit is being derived therefrom.