CABINET DECISIONS – 27 JUNE 2008
1. In line with the commitment taken by Government, Cabinet has agreed to–
(a) the extension of the 40-hour week during crop season to cane planters who are not members of the Mauritius Sugar Planters Association (MSPA), i.e., the implementation of the 40-hour week to the whole sugar industry;
(b) the rates for cutting and loading of canes during crop season, as prescribed by the Sugar Industry (Agricultural Workers) (Remuneration Order) Regulations or agreed upon following the Protocole d'Accord and the PAT Award, being increased by 11.5% with effect from 30 June 2008. The increase would restore the relativity prevailing between the wages of agricultural workers and non-agricultural workers of the sugar industry before the implementation of the 40-hour week; and
(c) the Additional Remuneration Act for 2008 making provision that where an employee is remunerated on a piece rate basis at rates prescribed in the Sugar Industry (Agricultural Workers) (Remuneration Order) Regulations 1983 and in the Protocole d'Accord, such rates to be increased in the same proportion as the increase applicable to the basic wage, prescribed or agreed upon as the case may be.
2. Cabinet has taken note that a 50-member delegation led by His Excellency Mr Guoqiang, Member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, will visit Mauritius from 4 to 6 July 2008. During the visit, an Agreement on Economic and Technical Cooperation between the People’s Republic of China and Mauritius, providing for an interest-free loan of RMB 30M Yuan (i.e., about MRU 120M) for a period of five years to finance projects agreed upon mutually by the two Governments, would be signed.
3. Cabinet has taken note of the elaboration of a Strategy Plan for the Industry and the SME Sector covering the period 2008/2015, with particular focus on immediate and short- term strategic interventions.
The Strategy Plan would have as main objectives the consolidation, diversification and modernisation of the Industry and the SME sector in Mauritius with a view to, inter alia, -
(a) enabling the industrial sector to achieve long-term sustainability through improved competitiveness;
(b) developing capabilities in production of high value and branded products that can compete effectively in specific niches of the global market;
(c) achieving the status of a regional hub for Fashion and Design; and
(d) projecting Mauritius as a centre of excellence for production of quality products.
4. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of a mission of UNIDO which visited Mauritius from 16 to 25 May 2008 in the context of a SADC programme on ‘Industrial Upgrading and Modernisation Programme’ for Member States.
The aims of the programme are to support the process of modernisation, growth and competitiveness of industries and related services, and to facilitate access to national, regional and international markets. The main components of the Programme are:-
(a) support for upgrading and improving competitiveness of industries; and
(b) establishment or upgrading of the technical support institutions, where necessary.
SADC has identified nine strategic industrial sectors but retained three as priority ones, namely, agro-food processing, mineral (metallic and non-metallic) processing, and pharmaceuticals.
5. Cabinet has taken note that the first National Inter-College Games, covering athletics, badminton, basketball, football, table tennis and volleyball, were held from 17 to 20 June 2008. About 1200 athletes from 109 colleges participated in the finals. The performance of the athletes in these disciplines was satisfactory and the national record in the high jump (minim category) was broken with a mark of 1m 96.
6. Cabinet has agreed to the introduction into the National Assembly of the Finance (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill which provides for the implementation of measures announced in the Budget Speech 2008-2009 and for the strengthening and the streamlining of certain other provisions relating to revenue and public finance.
7. Cabinet has agreed to the introduction into the National Assembly of the Seafarers’ Welfare Fund Bill, which provides for the establishment of a new Seafarers’ Welfare Fund to cater for the social and economic welfare of seafarers, the dissolution of the current Seafarer’s Welfare Fund established under the Merchant Shipping (Seafarer’s Welfare Fund) Regulations 2002 and the taking over and the management of its assets and the discharge of its liabilities.
The status of the current Seafarers’ Welfare Fund which was set up as a specialized fund under the aegis of the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, Land Transport & Shipping, limits its scope of intervention. The Fund to be created would be a body corporate as other Welfare Funds and better serve the welfare needs of seafarers and their families. The Fund would be managed by a Board comprising, inter alia, representatives of ship operators, active and retired seafarers, ship owners, and a representative of the Apostolat de la Mer.
8. Cabinet has agreed to the Central Statistics Office conducting a Housing and Population Census in the Republic of Mauritius in the year 2010.
The Housing and Population Census is the primary source of information on the number of persons and households living in specific areas, together with a wide range of their demographic, social and economic characteristics.
The main objectives of the Housing and Population Census are to provide -
(i) information on the characteristics of buildings and living conditions of the population;
(ii) demographic and socio-economic benchmark data, more specifically for small areas and small population groups required for population and manpower projections and for development planning and policy decision making; and
(iii) an up-to-date list of households to serve as frame for selection of representative samples for statistical surveys.
9. Cabinet has taken note of the activities organized by the Ministry of Industry, Small & Medium Enterprises, Commerce & Cooperatives in the context of the 86th International Cooperative Day and the 14th UN International Day of Cooperatives, commemorated on the first Saturday of July, viz., -
(i) exhibition of products by Women Entrepreneurs Cooperative Societies at the National Women Development Centre, Phoenix with a view to increasing the visibility of activities of members of cooperative societies and creating market opportunities;
(ii) inauguration of improved infrastructure at Nouvelle Decouverte Cooperative Dairy Farm;
(iii) two-day seminar on “Modern Management of Cooperative Credit Unions”;
(iv) launching of aquaculture by cooperatives at St Martin;
(v) two-day workshop on “Environment of Women through Cooperatives”;
(vi) opening of a Fair Price Shop at Port Mathurin in Rodrigues; and
(vii) distribution of onion seeds to the Agricultural Marketing Cooperative Federation Ltd.
The theme for this year is “Confronting Climate Change through Cooperative Enterprise”. The cooperative movement in Mauritius would celebrate its 95th Anniversary this year.
10. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the mission of the Minister of Public Utilities to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, from 13 to 19 June 2008, where he discussed the modalities for the forthcoming Hajj pilgrimage, viz., accommodation and travel arrangements of pilgrims, with the Saudi Authorities. This year, the Saudi Authorities have agreed to increase the number of pilgrims from Mauritius from the established quota of 1300 to 1800.
11. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the mission of the Minister of Agro Industry & Fisheries to Ethiopia, from 8 to 13 June 2008, where he participated in -
(i) the ACP Ministerial Consultations on Sugar which discussed issues related to Sugar Protocol. The Meeting decided that the ACP Scientific Committee should be convened to examine new proposals to make full use of a balance of €1.6 million out of €13 million earmarked for Intra-ACP Cooperation on Research and Development and which was still uncommitted.
(ii) The 87th Session of the ACP Council of Ministers which discussed, inter alia, -
(a) Practical Modalities for ACP Participation in consultations under Articles 96 and 97 on Cotonou;
(b) Migration and Development; and
(c) Trade Matters.
Following discussions the Minister of Agro Industry & Fisheries had, the European Commission agreed that additional resources, to be negotiated from the €2.7 billion under the intra-ACP cooperation, could be allocated to the CDE and RECs to finance the textiles and clothing sector.
(iii) The 33rd Session of the ACP-EU Council of Ministers which discussed, inter alia, -
(a) Economic Partnership Agreement;
(b) Basic Food Prices and Food Security; and
(c) Trade and Development.
12. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the mission of the Minister of Labour, Industrial Relations & Employment to Geneva, from 28 May to 13 June, where he attended the 97th Session of the International Labour Conference.
The Conference examined, inter alia, the following issues –
(i) Global Report under the follow-up to the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work;
(ii) Information and reports on the application of Conventions and Recommendations;
(iii) Promotion of rural employment for poverty reduction;
(iv) Skills for improved productivity, employment growth and development; and
(v) Strengthening the ILO’s capacity to assist its Members’ efforts to reach its objectives in the context of globalization.
In the margins of the meeting, the Minister of Labour, Industrial Relations & Employment met –
(a) Mr K. Tapiola, Executive Director of the Standards and Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work Department to seek ILO expertise for the preparation of a Decent Work Country Programme for Mauritius; and
(b) Mr J.M. Salazar-Zirinachs, Executive Director of the Employment Sector, to seek ILO assistance towards the preparation of an Employment Policy Document for Mauritius.
13. Cabinet has taken note of the reconstitution of -
(a) the Farmers Service Corporation Board with Mr Poorun Bhollah as Chairperson; and
(b) the Sugar Planters Mechanical Pool Corporation Board.