CABINET DECISIONS - 25 JANUARY 2008
1. In line with Government Programme 2005 – 2010, Cabinet has taken note that a Task Force has been set up under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister's Office to work out the mandate of the Truth and Justice Commission, with particular focus, inter alia, on -
(i) the scope of investigation and the period to be covered;
(ii) the powers of the Commission; and
(iii) the scope of recommendations.
The Task Force comprises -
(i) the Most Reverend Ian Ernest;
(ii) Dr (Mrs) Vijaya Teelock;
(iii) Prof Sadasiven Reddi;
(iv) Mr Benjamin Moutou;
(v) Mr Khalill Toorabally; and
(vi) Mr Lindsay Morvan.
2. Cabinet has taken note that a team of specialists led by Professor David Owens, Professor in Diabetes and Member of the International Advisory Committee on the National Service Framework for Diabetes, would visit Mauritius from 28 to 31 January 2008. Prof Owens is donating a retinal camera, with the appropriate software, costing around Rs 1 million to the Ministry of Health and Quality of Life. He would assist in the setting up of a Retinal Screening Service in Mauritius and train Community Physicians, Optometrists and Health Care Assistants on the use of the camera, as well as nurses involved in diabetes care with a view to updating them on issues relating to diabetes. The Retinal Screening Programme would be implemented, in the first instance, on a pilot basis at SSRN Hospital and thereafter extended to the other regional hospitals. A high quality National Retinopathy Screening Programme would reduce the number of cases of blindness due to retinopathy by 40% in five years.
3. Cabinet has agreed to National Day Celebrations 2008 being held at Champ de Mars. The programme of activities would include –
(a) a pledge to the Nation;
(b) March Past by disciplined forces and uniformed organizations;
(c) Official Flag Raising Ceremony at 18 00 hours;
(d) a défilé on the Historical and Economic evolution of Mauritius comprising some 10 tableaux vivants depicting the country’s history and landmarks of progress achieved by the various sectors since independence;
(e) a 40-minute cultural item depicting the different cultures of Mauritius with the participation of popular local artists along with artists from countries where the forebears of the various components of the Mauritian population originated and countries closely related to the history of Mauritius, namely, Egypt, Holland, France, Madagascar, United Kingdom, India and the People’s Republic of China;
(f) a giant fireworks display; and
(g) a popular show.
4. With a view to facilitating entrance in Port Louis and providing a bypass for the North South bound traffic, Cabinet has agreed to the construction of an Access Road to Guibies, which in due course would be integrated with the proposed Port Louis Ring Road. The total length of the road will be 5 km and the estimated cost of the project is Rs 600m.
Cabinet has also taken note of the proposal to construct a bridge across Port Louis harbour to address the problem of traffic congestion.
5. Cabinet has agreed to the construction of additional storage facilities for petroleum products and liquefied petroleum gas so as to ensure security of supply of these commodities.
6. Cabinet has taken note of the remarkable performance of the tourist sector in 2007 both in tourist arrivals and receipts: the target of 900,000 tourists was met; tourist receipts rose to Rs 40.6 billion, i.e., a record increase of 27.2% over 2006; and average expenditure per tourist also increased by 12%.
Cabinet has further taken note that the movement of tourists across the Island has enabled a wider section of the population to benefit therefrom - a vivid example of the translation of Government's vision for the democratisation of the economy.
7. Cabinet has taken note of the status of the Project for the Development of a Roadmap for the Export of Services and the Science, Technology, Innovation Project, which aim at expanding the services sector by increasing export potential and establishing Mauritius as a credible provider of services.
The Roadmap for the Export of Services project focusses the following four sectors with export potential --
(i) financial services;
(ii) information and communication technology services;
(iii) healthcare and well-being services; and
(iv) knowledge, education and training services.
The Science, Technology and Innovation project would enhance the competitiveness of the Mauritian industry, thereby creating higher wage and skill-intensive jobs for the workforce. The sectors targeted are -
• Bio and marine pharmaceuticals, clinical research
• Clean, renewable energy
• Marine sector – Land-based oceanographic industries and seafood
• Sugar and value-added agriculture
• Waste management and waste recycling
• Law on patents and trademarks
• Law on pharmacy
• Governance and strengthening of research organisations – re-engineer work processes to become more demand driven and market oriented.
8. Cabinet has taken note of developments in the implementation of the Rose Belle Market Project which was announced in the 2007-2008 Budget Speech. The new Rose Belle Market would comprise –
(i) 980 stalls for vegetables/fruits;
(ii) 56 stalls for grocery/meat products; and
(iii) an Administrative Block.
The estimated cost of the project is around Rs 25m.
9. Cabinet has taken note that meetings with Development Partners, viz, the Annual Business Plan Meeting, the Joint Donors Meeting on Wastewater and the Joint Meeting of all Development Partners, would be held from 11 to 14 February 2008 in Mauritius to discuss with line Ministries their requirements for technical and other assistance for next year. Focus would be on the following areas -
(i) 10-year infrastructure plan;
(ii) Energy and Environment;
(iii) Parastatal Reforms;
(iv) Empowerment Programme;
(vi) Science, Technology and Innovation;
(vii) Information and Communication Technology;
(viii) Education and Training;
(ix) Health; and
10. Taking into consideration difficulties encountered in the implementation of infrastructural projects, particularly in the Health and Education Sectors, due to bottlenecks, Cabinet has taken note of measures to expedite the implementation of such projects.
11. Cabinet has taken note of the promulgation of the Extradition (Treaty with the Republic of India) Regulations under the Extradition Act in order to give effect to the Treaty on Extradition between Mauritius and the Republic of India and to render the cooperation between the two countries more effective in the suppression of crime by making further provision for the reciprocal extradition of offenders.
12. Cabinet has agreed to the draft Government Report on Trade Policy Review being submitted to the WTO Secretariat, a mandatory obligation for Mauritius to demonstrate its compliance with the WTO rules.
The Report covers the evolution of trade policies and practices of Mauritius over the last six years, i.e., 2001-2007, and its future trade policy outlook. It indicates how changes in international trade, in particular the phasing-out of the Multi-Fibre Agreement, EU sugar reform and soaring oil prices, compounded by erosion of trade preferences and world-wide competition, had strong repercussions on the Mauritian economy. Despite these economic difficulties, Mauritius never had recourse to policy reversals but has instead embarked upon an ambitious economic reform and has remained actively engaged in international trade negotiations. While moving towards a services-oriented economy, Mauritius is conscious that external support is critically important to sustain its economic reform, hence the need for an early implementation of the Aid for Trade initiative and for an expeditious completion of the WTO Work Programme on Small Economies.
13. Cabinet has taken note that the Prime Minister’s Office, in collaboration with the European Union, would organise a Workshop on Circular Migration on 08 and 09 September 2008. The main objective of the Workshop is to bring together all stakeholders in the field of migration with a view to discussing further and considering the implementation, on a pilot basis, of the Circular Migration Project which was presented by Mauritius at the First Global Forum on Migration in Belgium in July 2007.
The Circular Migration project aims at giving an opportunity to unskilled and semi-skilled workers who have lost their jobs to find suitable jobs outside Mauritius and to build upon their skills before returning home to find employment in new sectors, or to start a business.
14. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the 10th Session of the Indo-Mauritian Joint Commission on Economic, Technical and Cultural Cooperation held in Mauritius on 18 December 2007, which discussed, inter alia,
(i) trade and investment, technical assistance, education and cultural cooperation;
(ii) cooperation on issues relating to defence and security surveillance of the EEZ, science and technology;
(iii) support to boost SMEs;
(iv) non-conventional source of energy with emphasis on how to reduce dependence on fossil fuels; and
(v) co-terminal right facilities to Air Mauritius.
15. Cabinet has taken note of the promulgation of regulations under the International Organisations and Conferences (Privileges and Immunities) Act in respect of “Accord de Siège” and the “Protocole Additionnel à l’Accord général de la coopération entre les Etats de la Commission de l’Océan Indien” signed between Government and the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC).
The “Accord de Siège” provides, inter alia, for -
(a) the exemption of the IOC from the payment of direct and indirect taxes, including customs duties on materials, books, etc., imported by the Secretariat for official use;
(b) the grant of diplomatic immunity to the IOC Secretary General, other high officials and their families, excluding the local staff working for the IOC; and
(c) the IOC to hold foreign currency accounts to the extent necessary for its operation and to facilitate the transfer of funds in connection with the Secretariat’s activities.
16. Cabinet has taken note of the promulgation of the Patents, Industrial Designs and Trademarks (Tribunal Rules of Procedure) Regulations, under the Patents, Industrial Designs and Trademarks Act, which would, inter-alia:
(i) provide for the Declaration of Secrecy on the part of all members of the Tribunal including the Registrar;
(ii) enable the Tribunal to prescribe fees for photocopying, making available transcript of proceedings and certified copies of judgements delivered by the Tribunal;
(iii) act as a guideline to any party wishing to lodge an application to the Tribunal under the Act; and
(iv) provide for the administrative procedures of the Tribunal including the use of an official seal, relevant forms and the determination of the fees payable.
17. Cabinet has taken note of the promulgation of the National Savings Fund (Amendment of Schedule) Regulations and the National Savings Fund (Collection of Contributions) (Amendment) Regulations under the National Savings Fund Act to provide for an increase in the minimum and maximum salaries on which contributions are payable to the National Savings Fund.
The exercise undertaken is an inflation-proofing process which is effected on a yearly basis in order to keep up with the increase in the yearly earnings and to ensure that employees would, at the time of retirement, receive a lump sum more in line with their salary level.
18. Cabinet has taken note that the France Boyer de La Giroday Women Centre at Vacoas would be closed and its activities temporarily transferred to the National Women Development Centre at Phoenix, as the building is heavily corroded and represents a potential danger to its users. A new building would be constructed shortly, instead.
19. Cabinet has taken note of the reconstitution of the Construction Industry Development Board with Mr Zeinoule Ahbedine Chundoo, Chartered Quantity Surveyor/Certified Project Manager, as Chairperson.