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Prime Minister's Office>Cabinet Decisions taken on 24 October 2008

Cabinet Decisions taken on 24 October 2008

1. With a view to further consolidating law and order and providing better security and comfort to our citizens as well as tourists and investors, Cabinet has agreed to the introduction into the National Assembly of the Judicial Provisions Bill which aims at amending a number of enactments, viz., the Courts Act, the Criminal Code and the Dangerous Drugs Act, with a view to -
(a) providing for heavier penalties for certain offences;
(b) increasing the sentencing jurisdiction of District Courts and the Intermediate Court;
(c) abolishing fixed sentences and other mandatory sentences; and
(d) restoring to the Courts their sentencing discretion in respect of all offences.
The Courts Act is being amended to increase the term of imprisonment and penal servitude that the Intermediate Court may impose to 10 and 15 years respectively, and the term of penal servitude to 20 years in the case of a persistent offender.
The District Court will be given the power to inflict a sentence not exceeding 5 years instead of 2 years and a fine not exceeding Rs 100,000 instead of Rs 10,000.
The Criminal Code is being amended to provide for a discretion to the Court to impose a sentence of life, or, where compelling reasons exist, a sentence for a term not exceeding 60 years.
The Criminal Procedure Act is being amended by providing that the period spent on remand by a convicted person prior to trial also being taken into account by the Court when inflicting a sentence of imprisonment.
The sentencing powers of the Court are being increased significantly for, inter alia, offences relating to forgeries, larcenies with or without the use of offensive weapons, assault, possession and dealing in offensive weapons, sexual offences, rogue and vagabond and child abuses.

2. Cabinet has taken note that, under the Universal Periodic Review Mechanism, Mauritius, as member of the Human Rights Council, would be reviewed by the Council in February 2009. Cabinet has further taken note that the National Report, which has been prepared in consultation with all stakeholders, would be submitted to the Council by next week. The National Report includes a background of Mauritius and its framework, gives an overview of the promotion and protection of human rights, identifies achievements, best practices, challenges and constraints and establishes key national priorities, initiatives and commitments that Mauritius intends to undertake to overcome those challenges and constraints and improve human rights on the ground.

3. Cabinet has agreed to the setting up of a Fact Finding Committee chaired by
Mr Henry Denis Vellien, Chairperson of the ICT Appeal Tribunal, to look into the alleged cases of misallocation of compensation paid to members and workers of former Sand Carrier Cooperative Societies, to investigate whether a few members and workers of the Cooperative Societies have been left out and to draw up a list, if any.

4. Cabinet has agreed to the setting up of a Joint Public-Private Sector Committee on International Trade under the Chairmanship of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade to strategise on measures to be taken to cope with the challenges of trade liberalisation and to maximise on benefits arising from multilateral/bilateral and other trade agreements to which Mauritius is a party or intends to become a party. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade is currently engaged in a number of trade negotiations aimed at, inter alia, safeguarding and enhancing market access, diversifying current exports, as well as deepening trade links with emerging economies, viz., -
(i) multilateral trade negotiations at the level of the WTO;
(ii) Economic Partnership Agreement with the EU;
(iii) bilateral discussions under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement with the US, including AGOA; and
(iv) bilateral negotiations on trade and investment with India and Pakistan.

5. Cabinet has taken note that the Ministry of Health and Quality of Life would set up, on a pilot basis, a Pharmacovigilance Unit at Flacq Hospital. Pharmacovigilance is a means for detecting sub-standard medicines and errors in medications.
The benefits derived from the setting up of Unit are, inter alia, -
(i) the improvement of patient care and safety in relation to the use of medicines in all medical and para-medical interventions;
(ii) effective assessment of the benefits, harm, effectiveness and risk of medicines; and
(iii) the promotion of the concept of pharmacovigilance amongst health professionals and the public.
The Unit will be headed by a Physician and supported by a team comprising a Paediatrician, a Dermatologist, a Cardiologist, a Pharmacist, a Nursing Officer and a Pharmacy Dispenser.

6. Cabinet has taken note of developments in the construction of a football ground at Tranquebar on a plot of land of 3 Arpents.

7. Cabinet has taken note of developments in the implementation of the Pan African
e-Network Project, an initiative of the former President of India, Dr A.P.J. Kalam, to connect the 53 nations of the African Union by satellite and fibre optic network for an effective tele-education, tele-medicine, Internet, video conferencing and Voice Over Internet Protocol services, as well as to support e-Governance, e-Commerce, infotainment, resource mapping and meteorological services. Mauritius is amongst the first countries in Africa to operate a tele-medicine centre and a tele-education centre, equipped with the state-of-the-art equipment.
The tele-medicine centre, based at the Cardiac Centre, provides online medical consultations for one hour daily and off-line medical advice for five patients daily from Indian medical specialists. The tele-education centre at the Mauritius College of the Air provides services by well known Indian Universities in Post-graduate, Undergraduate, Diploma and Certificate courses selected by the African Union.

8. Cabinet has taken note of developments regarding the participation of Mauritius in the Expo 2010 Shanghai, China which will be held from 1 May to 31 October 2010. The “Theme Statement”, defining the overall theme and general content of the exhibition for Mauritius, has been finalized and would be submitted to the Chinese Authorities for approval. The theme chosen by Mauritius is “Better City-Better Life”. Mauritius will be provided with an exhibition space of 324 square metres within the African Joint Pavillion of the Expo Park.

9. Cabinet has taken note that the team of Mechanical Engineers of the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, Land Transport and Shipping inspected all the Tata buses purchased by the National Transport Corporation, and found that the buses were roadworthy and safe for passengers. However, all buses needed regular and systematic maintenance. The concerns about the safety of the buses is therefore not justified.

10. Cabinet has taken note of the activities organized by the Ministry of Women’s Rights, Child Development and Family Welfare in the context of the World Food Day 2008, under the theme “Enhancing Household Food Security”, viz., -
(i) a National Kitchen Garden Competition to encourage women to grow vegetables and fruits, as well as other agricultural products in backyards, in containers and on rooftops;
(ii) a National Culinary Competition cum Exhibition of Local Foods with a view to promoting the consumption of local foods; and
(iii) a sale exhibition of agricultural products to provide an opportunity to women entrepreneurs to market their products, have a platform for networking and sharing of experiences, and develop clusters with a view to expanding their businesses.

11. Cabinet has taken note that, pursuant to the provisions of the ICT Act 2001, the mobile operators have, to date, suspended a total of 51,000 SIM cards from the network for non-registration.

12. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the visit of the Minister of Business, Enterprise and Cooperatives from 18 to 20 October 2008 to Rodrigues in the context of the “Semaine de L’Entrepreneuriat”.
The “Semaine de L’Entrepreneuriat” was launched in Rodrigues on 20 October 2008 with a view to offering the same opportunities and facilities to Rodriguan Enterprises as in Mauritius i.e., creating a platform with the collaboration of support institutions to inform existing and potential entrepreneurs on the different facilities, schemes and services offered for the promotion and development of small and medium enterprises and new sectors which can be explored, provide an opportunity for potential entrepreneurs to register themselves and apply for financing and other assistance on site.
The Minister of Business, Enterprise and Cooperatives inaugurated a Fair Price Shop, similar to those in Mauritius, at St Gabriel with a view to uplifting the standard of living of customers through the provision of quality goods with fair prices, friendly services and pleasant shopping environment.
In the margins of the visit, the Minister of Business, Enterprise and Cooperatives met –
(i) the Chief Commissioner, Commissioners and other officers of the Rodrigues Regional Assembly to discuss on the current situation in both the SME and the Cooperatives Sectors; and
(ii) members of Small and Medium Enterprises, Cooperative Societies and Credit Unions to have an overview of problems and constraints faced by them.
With a view to boosting the Cooperatives and Entrepreneurial initiatives in Rodrigues, it is proposed inter alia, to -
(a) provide sales outlets for Rodriguan products at Caudan and the SSR International Airport;
(b) establish of a desk for Rodrigues at SEDHA; and
(c) reinforce training of Entrepreneurs and members of Cooperative Societies.

13. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the participation of the Minister of Youth and Sports from 13 to 14 October 2008 in Ghana where he attended the Second Session of the African Union (AU) Conference for Ministers of Sport.
The Meeting adopted resolutions relating to -
(i) the Restructuring of the Supreme Council for Africa;
(ii) the Code on the Relations between Governments, National and International Sport Organisations;
(iii) the Policy Framework for Sustainable Development of Sport in Africa to address the main concerns of Sport in Africa; and
(iv) support South Africa for the 2010 FIFA World Cup event.
In the margins of the Meeting, the Minister of Youth and Sports discussed with his counterparts from South Africa, Madagascar and Senegal on various issues on bilateral cooperation for the promotion of sports and development of exchange programmes for our athletes and coaches.